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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Octavarium [U.S. Version]
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 4 March 2017
Getting into progressive rock/metal in the last few years like bands like tool and rush, I've heard about dream theatre and I'm glad I picked this album up as its simply amazing. Making interesting and great sounding songs that last incredibly long takes talent.
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on 7 June 2005
It seems like only 5 minutes ago that Train of Thought was released when, in actuality, it was two years past - where does the time go? That was a very angry album. Scratch that, it was a furious album, both lyrically and musically, outdoing Metallica at their own game, and yet somehow it seemed to have lost some of that Dream Theater essence, some of its soul. It wasn't until I saw the band playing the material live that I began to understand.
Octavarium is a different beast altogether, as is immediately apparent from the machine gun drum attack of opener The Root Of All Evil, ripped straight out of the previous album's This Dying Soul, coughed up and spat out into a killer riff that opens the album in style.
A combination of Train of Thought's ferocious riffing back through time to Images & Words via Scenes From A Memory with copious amounts of Awake and A Change of Seasons thrown in for good measure, Octavarium contains some of the band's best song writing in years. Stripped of much of the over-indulgence it is more tightly focussed and melodic, and contains some truly amazing musicianship that manages to impress whilst also being much more restrained than in recent efforts.
Portnoy's drumming, as technically brilliant as always, seems much more in touch with the feel of each song, rather than playing fancy fills every five seconds. Jordan Rudess has also reined himself in after a couple of less than convincing moments on the last two albums. The Cheese Man's vocal performance is as tight and convincing as ever, and he has some very good lyrics to sing here.
But for me the star of the show this time around is John Petrucci. Again, much like Portnoy, he seems to have pulled himself back on this album: there is nothing in the way of overly showy guitar solos here, instead he is content to settle for a mixture of texture, phenomenally powerful riffing, and his trademark dexterity as he duels with Rudess. It is a fine performance, with John Myung going about his business in the background with some truly stunning bass work.
They've even gone so far as to write a bonafide, hands-in-the-air hit single in the shape of I Walk Beside You, should they ever feel like releasing it. An example of the album's increased maturity, it has a killer sing-along chorus and has the good grace not to overstay its welcome. Class.
The songs touch on some familiar subjects such as alcoholism and terrorism, touching base with 9/11 in style on Sacrificed Sons.
It would be wrong to say that the album is all about the title track, but Octavarium is simply stunning. It's like the years have melted away and you're listening to a combination of Rush, Yes and ELP at the height of their powers (I'll temper that by saying that, having seen them last year, Rush are still at the height of their powers) with a dollop of ELO thrown in for good measure. Yes, there's an orchestra on show, but it isn't even remotely out of place. This track is one of the most evocative I have heard in years, with a marvellous six minute instrumental opening that layers texture upon texture (I'm not ashamed to admit that when the flute kicked in it brought a lump to this listener's throat). Portnoy is even smart enough to name-check songs from yesteryear during Part III, Full Circle, and when he mentions the likes of Yes's Machine Messiah it's enough to bring a smile to the face - it just feels right. Twenty-four minutes has never flown by so fast.
And after the previous two albums opened with the closing bars of their immediate predecessor, Octavarium infuriatingly closes by returning to the opening bars of The Root Of Evil. Why infuriatingly? Because it's just so clever! As Labrie sings "This story ends where it began" it's an open invitation to cue up track 1 and start again.
And you will, I guarantee it.
Simply awesome.
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on 13 June 2017
Bought for my husband who thinks its great.
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on 27 April 2017
Love this band
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on 10 September 2017
Another superb offering from Dream Theatre
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on 6 June 2005
The eighth DT album, Octavarium, is much more diverse than its predecessor, the dark "Train of Thought". At first it appears less coherent than TOT, but after half a dozen listenings I can only appreciate the variety of moods DT so elegantly offer on this CD.
The opening track, "The Root Of All Evil" is a hardrocker that could have been on TOT. In fact, there is a 15 second insert of "This Dying Soul" in the middle of the song. The second track, "The Answer Lies Within" is to me a less impressive soft breather (with - sorry to say this - quite cliched lyrics). Not really my cup of tea, but still okay. "These Walls" with its spacious sounds during the verse and melodic chorus over metallic guitar sounds is quite radio friendly, and after hearing the U2-like "I Walk Beside You" the progrock enthusiast may wonder where this band is heading. Especially so with the lack of instrumental virtuoso passages typical of DT during tracks 2-4. But not to worry, the remaining four songs are DT at their best. The hard rockin', up-tempo "Panic Attack" immeaditely became one of my all time DT favourite songs even before it got to the awesome solo sections by Rudess and Petrucci. "Never Enough" with ethereal vocals of LaBrie climaxes with a beautiful guitar passage towards the end. The epic "Sacificed Sons" deals with the 9/11 tragedy. After starting off smoothly the song builds up to typical DT characteristics. The title track is a 24 minute epic starting off with only keyboards and guitar. This intro sounds like Pink Floyd, later like Yes. LaBrie comes in at 5+ minutes and the song enters an instrumental pre-climax at 12+ minutes. We hear - among other things - (early)Genesis/Marillion-like keyboard passages and later, after further vocal parts, Zappa-influenced instrumental exercises. This piece of work grows on every listening and - although it after a mere 5 listenings may not appear very compact - is an all time DT's epic classic candidate.
As with any DT album, the musicianship amazes. The musical style and songs on some DT records has left James LaBrie somewhat unconfortable, but on this record his versatility has to be appreciated in a big way.
Despite my one ore two worries during the first playback of this CD I feel now that this is an essential piece of work by DT. If you are new to Dream Theater, the musical diversity makes this CD a good introduction of the band alongside with "Images and Words", which may require less listenings for full appreciation.
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on 3 May 2017
After the all-out metal assault that was 2003's 'Train of Thought', Dream Theater continue to develop their "metal" sound, while at the same time paying homage to their progressive roots. And so it is, that 'Octavarium' is seen from two perspectives. There's the fans who see it as Dream Theater's 70's-era prog rock album, and there's the ones who think it's just a smorgasbord of stolen ideas.

Admittedly, there are songs that sound similar to artists such as Muse, Linkin Park, U2 and the very Pink Floyd-sounding title track. But does that really make them bad? Does a band consisting of some of the finest musicians in the world really need to resort to plagiarism? And when did it become such a sin to wear your influences on your sleeve? Stolen ideas or not, I like the songs, and that's all that truly matters to me.

The main focal point of the record is the 24-minute title track, 'Octavarium'. A song that builds from a hauntingly ambient intro to one of the most climatic finishes in a Dream Theater track, it perfectly appeals to fans of both old progressive rock and modern metal alike, and will easily go down as one of the bands most memorable pieces.

The rest of the album features a mixture of heavy, rocking songs and soft, radio-friendly ballads. 'These Walls' and 'Never Enough' take the group into more alternative rock-inspired territory, whilst others such as 'The Root of All Evil' and 'Panic Attack' continue in the same vein Dream Theater have been on since 'Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence'. And while the musicianship is incredible, as expected with Dream Theater, it's keyboard player Jordan Rudess who really gets to shine on this album, with many of the songs being heavily synth-driven.

Riddled with Easter eggs and hidden references to the number eight, Dream Theater's 'Octavarium' sees the band continue to challenge themselves by trying new things and taking inspiration from different sources. It's a throwback to 70's and 80's progressive rock, whilst maintaining the bands own signature take on the metal subgenre they helped pioneer, thus making it a worthy addition to fans of both genres.
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on 6 June 2005
The month-long wait for Dream Theater's new album, Octavarium, has left many fans with baited breath - after all, 2003's Train of Thought split the fanbase in two. When DT announced that the new album would be a reaction against the heaviness that permeated the last disc, many were relieved (to say the least). But what Octavarium would sound like was effectively unknown. Amidst the tension, Dream Theater has produced one of the most startlingly focussed and effective albums since 1991's Images and Words.
The CD starts as Train of Thought left off - with a low F played on the piano. The opening track, "The Root of All Evil" is soon underway. This appears to be the continuation of Portnoy's 12-step saga present on the last 2 releases. Thankfully, DT have opted not to shred away in B minor for 11 minutes (which worked well for 2 tracks, but gets old) but constructed an almost Zeppelin-influenced song. The reprise of "This Dying Soul" gives me chillbumps every time and the piano outro at the end, which introduces on of the album's main themes, is pleasantly understated. One thing that is immediately noticeable is that Rudess is a major force on "Octavarium" and Portnoy and Pretucci have resticted many aspects of their playing. This works well - there were 17 guitar solos on Train of Thought alone!!!
"The Answer Lies Within" is a positive, subtle song with a string quartet wedged in the middle. It sounds unlike aything they've done before and works well. We're veering into Colday territory with this one - albeity more interesting harmonically.
"These Walls" was released before the bulk of the album, and deserves radio airplay - it is blessed with an infectious chorus and an emotional guitar solo. This quickly moves into "I Walk Beside You". The song is relentlessly poppy, and I was first put off by it. But it is actually an album highlight. Labrie's vocals sound great, and Petrucci and Portnoy don't ruin the song by extending it past its diminuitive length of 4 minutes.
"Panic Attack" and "Never Enough" are Muse-influenced and create a tense, frantic atmosphere (as the titles would suggest). There is a return to the traditional DT solo section, but since its hasn't been overused the listeners are awed by the virtuosity instead of bored. John Myung's bass intro to Panic Attack is outstanding - this song in particular will be a live favorite for some time. "Never Enough" is synth driven with an intense unison section. Despite some poor lyrics, the band just about pull off the modern-rock vibe.
The final two songs, "Sacrificed Sons" and "Octavarium", are among the best two songs that band has written. No review could do them justice, and so I wont try. But these final 35 minutes are a stroke of genius. (NB - look at the lyrics to "Sacrificed Sons" very carefully before dismissing them as one sided, conservative, etc.)
Are there flaws? Yes. Sometimes the commercial atnosphere of parts of the CD can be irritating. Some ambient sections can go on for too long. But taken as a whole, "Octavarium" (especially the song) is a career highlight that all prog-rock fans should have.
Note: Yes, it is a concept album. LaBrie lied. I won't give it away though.
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on 7 June 2005
DT's previous outing certainly generated diverse opinions. Personally I found it enjoyable but containing too many lengthy Petrucci solo's. Octavarium is a return to form and probably as strong as "scenes from..". It contains two superb tracks for us prog fans. The 10 minute "Sacrificed Sons" and the 24 minute "Octavarium". What strikes me about both of these tracks is that Rudess's keyboards have taken centre stage. At last we can hear Myung's bass clearly in the mix and LaBrie does some of his best vocals in years. The longer track is quite "Yes" like early on but then kicks into a fantastic instrumental section. Throughout the album Petrucci's solos are concise and welcome, no more so than on this track. The use of an orchestra works very well.
Panic attack, is TOT notched up a couple levels on the hard metal scale and is a great track. There are a couple of good ballads, of which "I walk beside you" is very U2 like. The remaining tracks are excellent too, heavy but not overly extended with solos. In summary a great return to concise song writing (even the 24 minute epic is concise in that it doesn't have any unnecessary parts). As always the playing is great and the band really seem to be on top form.
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on 9 June 2005
After listening to Dream Theater's eighth studio album Octavarium, I came to the conclusion that it was their best since 1999's Scenes From a Memory. Having strayed into thrash metal for their last album Train of Thought, I was left yearning for the more progressive side in their music - and thankfully, here it is! The Root of All Evil nicely continues the saga that began with 2002's Glass Prison and 2003's Dying Soul and is one of the more heavy songs on the album. The Answer Lies Within sees the band delving back into ballads, an area they hadn't explored since 1997's Falling into Infinity. The addition of a string quartet (and full orchestras on Sacrificed Sons and Octavarium) further broadens the musical canvas. These Walls is a traditional Dream Theater song reminiscent of Images and Words and When Dream and Day Unite and has some skilful percussive backing from Mike Portnoy. Sometimes the album seems to be a tribute to past achievements, hence the return of the 'tick-tock' sound of Regression at the start of I Walk Beside You, a song that for some reason, reminds me of U2? Panic Attack starts with some seriously good bass work from John Myung, and the song itself is a perfect work-out for the whole band. Never Enough evokes the gothic style of Muse (a favourite band of mine), and in this and the song before it, James Labrie seems to be using Matt Bellamy's singing style. Sacrificed Sons sees Labrie and Company take an unusual political stance with lyrics that obviously refer to 9/11 - perhaps a subject that is close to them - they are New Yorkers! However it is the title track, Octavarium that is the icing on the cake. An extended suite in the tradition of A Change of Seasons and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, the track acts as a tribute to just about every major 70's Progressive group. The introduction sounds like Pink Floyd's Shine on you Crazy Diamond, complete with steel guitar (Jordan at work?). Numerous other tributes appear in the music with a Tony Banks style keyboard solo and a passage that could come from any Emerson Lake and Palmer album. The lyrics also include references to Genesis's Supper's Ready and Cinema Show, the Beatles' Day Tripper and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Pink Floyd's Careful with that axe Eugene, Yes' Machine Messiah, and the Who's My Generation. The song closes in epic style with band and orchestra at full bombastic volume and grandeur. Thus ends Dream Theater's eighth opus, a return to their progressive roots. My only reservation is that the album could have been mixed slightly better (no Kevin Shirley this time around) as sometimes the album can sound slightly muffled and lacks power in some of the heavier passages. However, this is only a minor quibble as the songs alone make this their best album of the new millennium.
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