Dream Theater has maintained a rare combination of stellar musicianship and unwavering passion for over a decade, selling millions of albums and filling concert venues worldwide. The band once again confirms its status as progressive hard rock's standard-bearers on their latest studio epic, Octavarium. Atlantic. 2005.
opens with a lean and enthusiastic-sounding Dream Theater, one that continues to move forward without compromising its classic sound or its classic progressive metal appeal. Bassist John Myung propels album opener "The Root Of All Evil" with a weight equal to that of Mike Portnoy's forceful but finessed drumming and guitarist John Petrucci's masterful riffing which seems once more to widen the realm of possibilities available on the instrument. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess lends subtle and deft touches throughout helping further solidify the outfit's equally strong footing in the worlds of heavy and progressive rock. But the best evidence that Dream Theater remains alive and well rests perhaps in the final 34 minutes of the album. The 10-minute 9/11 meditation "Sacrificed Sons" finds vocalist James LaBrie giving one of his most convincing performances to date. The closing, 24-minute title track serves as the sound of a progressive rock orchestra delivering one more classic epic symphony, one more that lengthens this unit's ever-long prime. Both tracks stand as testament to the quintet's virtuosity, integrity and ingenuity and will fast become favorites. Further evidence of the group's diversity also exists here in the form of the unapologetically commercial (and U2-inflected) "I Walk Beside You," a song that seems destined to connect with a crossover audience--at least one up for an unforgettable adventure. --Jedd Beaudoin