Dream Theater
Octavarium


3.5
great

Review

by Parallels/sonicspeed500/sonic2/wes/leslie/Reverse Perpendicu USER (28 Reviews)
January 26th, 2012 | 633 replies | 29,270 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A duly brilliant and conceptual work from the obsessive–compulsive themes of Dream Theater.

10 of 10 thought this review was well written

Octavarium is essentially a synopsis of Dream Theater's entire discography into one album, and that isn't exactly what will please every aspect of their fanbase. Here we have ballads that appear to be mustered from the band's pocket in 1992 alongside metal songs that have easily derived from the aggression filled Train of Thought, all of which have been given a new and strict emphasis on melody. For once in their career, Dream Theater is attempting to create an album of simple songs without sacrificing their style. It isn't a show of Dream Theater's unique songwriting structures or a festival of instrumental candor. Instead it has a linear, formulaic “front-to-finish” approach on each song until the masterpiece title-track closer, a twenty-four minute song with every intention to rival "A Change of Seasons" and with every influence that the members of Dream Theater had bottled up to this point. That being said, Dream Theater's 2005 release is one hell of a memorable album.

Those who are Pink Floyd fans will instantly pick out the “Welcome to the Machine” intro in “The Root Of All Evil,” and others will notice similarities such as Styx's synthesizers, King's X's operatic vocals, Kansas' stylistic song-building and Rush's odd time signatures. The only odd moments arise when the questionable pieces are actually exact replicas, such as the blood curdling “Never Enough” and it's uncanny appearance to Muse's “Stockholm Syndrome.” LaBrie even tries to emulate Matthew Bellamy's tenor voice. The title track takes the cake though. There's a recurring Godfather reference, a Jingle Bells joke, a sour piano lick of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody and the lyrical sequence about fourteen minutes in where a venturous list of double entendres runs through the band's influences.

Although these songs are all good, Octavarium is too simple for the apparatus of Dream Theater. For all the creativity and strain built up from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and Train of Thought, the band limits themselves from using the full potential of their instruments until “Sacrificed Sons” and the twenty-four minute title track. “The Answer Lies Within” is worth a listen, but it quickly wears off in favor of the heavier side (Never Enough, Panic Attack). If Dream Theater's mission in 2005 was to make their music less complex in favor of music composition, then their strongest success would be the engulfing track “These Walls” where each member of the band gets to carefully display their instrument in the time allotted. There's more problems though; Myung's performance is hard to hear over the heightened presence of Rudess and his arsenal of keyboards, and the absence of Portnoy’s usual candor is questionable as well. Octavarium has the same melodic power of Images and Words, but without the creative instrumentation or complexity.

It's true that fans and critics alike can't expect a newer release by the prog-metal outfit to be ‘Images and Words Part 2,’ but Octavarium does manage to be a satisfying effort. “The Root of All Evil” has every bit of groove and zeal as "6:00," and “I Walk Beside You” has it's uplifting nature that will tear the fanbase apart for a long while. The beautiful and unimaginable masterpiece though is the 9/11 themed "Sacrificed Sons." In a song recalling one of the nations most shocking recent events, Dream Theater steps up to the stage to create one hell of an emotional song. There's LaBrie's ominous vocals, Mike Portnoy’s reckless drumming, Petrucci’s heart-plucking guitar solos and the perfect harmony of Rudess' and Myung's soul sinking undertones. It doesn't stop there though. The song takes listeners though a tour of uncertainty, replanting the horror of the planes colliding into the towers, and the emotional aura surrounding the heroic acts of those who worked against the catastrophe, and the song doesn't end until the violins run down the very crumbling pieces of steel, flesh and bone.

It's certainly nice to hear Dream Theater’s old fashioned ballads again, but it's difficult to see why any of Octavarium makes any sense as a concept album until the revelation at the very end. There the band claims “We move in circles, balanced all the while…a perfect sphere, colliding with our fate.” I'm sure Fates Warning is wondering where in the world they came up with that ‘circles’ idea.



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user ratings (1950)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Parallels
January 25th 2012



6641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I know you all be lurking out there tonight

Jethro42
January 26th 2012



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hello
Great review right here.

tiesthatbind
January 26th 2012



7373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good to see you picking this back up again, nice review.

This album has held up pretty well, I usually skip the even-numbered tracks except for the title track and it's very enjoyable that way.

Parallels
January 26th 2012



6641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha I used to do that too Ties, nice. Thanks guys.

Jethro42
January 26th 2012



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

These Walls and Sacrificed Sons are the tits.

Parallels
January 26th 2012



6641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

For sure, big ones too.

DarthMann
January 26th 2012



13757 Comments


jesus fade shut the fuck up

Masochist
January 26th 2012



7997 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's blasphemous to say this, but this is my favorite Dream Theater album. I can recognize it as not
being their best, but this is the one I listen to the most, and I sing these songs in my head more
than any other group of songs by the band.

Even more blasphemous--I really LIKE "Never Enough." But "Octavarium" (the song) is not easily, but
firmly, the best song Dream Theater has ever done, IMO (with the possible exception of "Metropolis,
pt. I: The Miracle and the Sleeper").

Great review, Sonicspeed.

Digging: He Is Legend - Heavy Fruit

Willie
Moderator
January 26th 2012



15903 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

I like this album. When I just want a quick fix of Dream Theater I like to throw on "I Walk Beside You", "Panic Attack", and "Never Enough". I think it's a nice break from their discography full of extended tracks.

Also, I made this the default review.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2012



7164 Comments


Standing on the backs, of angels...

Oh wait.

Digging: Ty Segall - Manipulator

johnnydeking29
January 26th 2012



9012 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really like this album, maybe because it was the first I heard of DT (and modern prog in general)
btw, I always thought that Never Enough sounded more like Hysteria than Stockholm Syndrome

Digging: Envy - A Dead Sinking Story

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2012



6079 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

damn congrats on defaulting. Panic Attack was the first song I ever heard by Dream Theater, and it was
also the first song I ever ripped from YouTube (and actually I think the only song I ever ripped from
youtube), so this album's full of nostalgia for me

Digging: Your Old Droog - Your Old Droog

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
January 26th 2012



20315 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Not one of my favourite DT albums, still good though.

Great review, pos'd.

Dreamflight
January 26th 2012



1760 Comments


yea, it's a nice Muse tribute for sure.

NeutralThunder12
January 26th 2012



8742 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

some of this is good some of it sucks a lot

Killerhit
January 26th 2012



5249 Comments


Some of this is bad some of it is badass

jybt
January 26th 2012



342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Maybe I should try this again. This was the first prog album I ever heard, and I used to love this album to death, now it bores me to death for the reasons you explained: it's too simple, not creative enough, and at times blatantly derivative and un-DT like. Pos'd, excellent review.

KILL
January 26th 2012



71281 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

metal

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

Jethro42
January 26th 2012



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

P/

Parallels
January 26th 2012



6641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Defaulted? Oh yeah! Thanks Willie. Also thanks for all your comments guys! This was actually my first Dream Theater adventure (and my first prog album).



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