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204 of 234 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This, my friends, was a surprise.
Since 1994, Dream Theater has followed an uncanny pattern in album excellence. "Awake" was unbelievable - "Falling Into Infinity" was pretty good - "Scenes From a Memory" is the best album of all time - "Six Degrees ..." has its creative merits - "Train of Thought" is an unstoppable beast. So, by this logic, their next album will be good, but not a towering sonic...
Published on June 7, 2005 by Dan Solera

versus
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shine On , You Crazy Octavarium...
First of all, let me pre-qualify myself by stating I am a huge fan of DT and Liquid Tension Experiment. I am very familiar with their entire catalog, have numerous full band scores of their work, and have studied both guitar and keyboards at Berklee COM. While I obviously appreciate DT's musical "chops", it is not what I solely look forward to in their compositions...
Published on June 8, 2005 by DRMMP


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204 of 234 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This, my friends, was a surprise., June 7, 2005
By 
Dan Solera (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Octavarium (Audio CD)
Since 1994, Dream Theater has followed an uncanny pattern in album excellence. "Awake" was unbelievable - "Falling Into Infinity" was pretty good - "Scenes From a Memory" is the best album of all time - "Six Degrees ..." has its creative merits - "Train of Thought" is an unstoppable beast. So, by this logic, their next album will be good, but not a towering sonic monolith.

So, is this a self-fulfilling prophecy? It's hard to tell.

"Octavarium", Dream Theater's ninth studio album, is definitely a change in direction from "Train of Thought", which was a guitar-heavy album. Dream Theater's newest release is an atmospheric composition that focuses more on symphonic keyboard textures than it does on meaty guitar riffs. This particular ambience (along with the addition of a symphony) has taken over the spotlight, making each song more structured, accessible and consistently catchy, which was not the case with their last release. Petrucci and Rudess' virtuoso deliveries (more commonly known as "shredding") are kept down to an absolute minimum on this album. One may suppose that the band realized that the songs on "Train of Thought" were following a decipherable pattern: intro, verse, chorus, long instrumental fireworks, chorus, finish.

So what do we have, exactly? We have an album that explores various areas of the progressive world. We have "The Root of All Evil", a continuation of Portnoy's multi-album suite (beginning with "The Glass Prison" and continued by "This Dying Soul"), which starts the album on a relatively heavy note. In it's 8-minute run, it re-visits riffs, rhythms and even lyrics from its predecessors (namely "I can feel my body breaking - shaking") and a shaky, unimpressive chorus that borrows from James LaBrie's forgettable experience with Tim Donahue. "Panic Attack" is a look back to Liquid Tension Experiment's rapid fire guitar riffs and blitzkrieg drums, never slowing down in its spectacular 8-minute duration. It is the fastest Dream Theater song to date and an explosive standout track.

Aside from those songs, the rest of the album is considerably slower and softer than anything we have heard from Dream Theater since the collection of ballads found on 1997's "Falling into Infinity". The serene "The Answer Lies Within" begins with the sounds of crickets and a lonely piano, leading into a soothing song where Rudess' delicate melodies journey alongside a quiet troupe of strings, which have a brief "solo" where Petrucci would normally show off. The song is very (and I mean *very*) reminiscent of "The Spirit Carries On" in its folksy, feel-good song construction and melodies. But it is nowhere near as poppy or infectious as the upbeat, radio-ready "I Walk Beside You", which is the closest Dream Theater has come to sounding like Hoobastank or the Goo Goo Dolls. It's still a great song, despite the predictable and sugarcoated rock riffs.

Speaking of predictability, Dream Theater have yet another politically interested song, following in the footsteps of 2001's "The Great Debate" and 2003's "In the Name of God". In fact, this album's 10-minute "Sacrificed Sons" is, most accurately described, "In the Name of God Part 2" with the same lyrical theme (religious fanaticism) and similar threatening atmospheres as its predecessor.

Then there's the surprise. The 24-minute prog-rock title track. I didn't know what to make of "Octavarium" at first as it was a complete surprise. It is a total departure from "A Change of Seasons" (the band's other 20+ minute epic). It seems that Portnoy's prog-rock experiences with Transatlantic have leaked out into Dream Theater. The metal is gone, replaced by a softer rock that sounds a lot like IQ and Spock's Beard with synchronized guitars and keyboards, and a myriad of different sounds (like juxtaposing a solitary acoustic guitar for a few seconds and stomping on it with a catchy prog melody). After the first painfully long four minutes, the guitars kick in, paving the way for a truly memorable experience, headlined by acoustic guitars, soothing vocals, lots of piano, a curious flute (a surprise) and later a full symphony (a shock).

The symphony is difficult to digest. Dream Theater have always proved to be masters of their craft by working wonders with their instruments - and their instruments only. Now we have a symphony adding a supporting fill to their already organic songs. Fortunately, it isn't ubiquitous (à la Nightwish's "Once") or thinly spread out (à la Pain of Salvation's "BE"). Instead, it's prominent and heavy at select times like an active volcano. The strings punch out in short bursts at the majestic end of "These Walls", subtly guide the keyboards of "The Answer Lies Within" and, with the help of some horns, bring "Octavarium" to a stunning finish.

Every song on the album is unique one way or another (except "Never Enough", which doesn't take off until its instrumental delivery 2/3 of the way into the song) and form the parts of yet another great Dream Theater release. Although the album may not survive the test of time like "Images and Words" or "Scenes From a Memory" have, it is still a delightful listen and an impressive creative output.

Sure, they *are* my all-time favorite band, so my standards are extremely high. Despite the surprises and occasionally awkward moments, "Octavarium" passes my intense scrutiny.

See also: Dream Theater - "Falling into Infinity", Dream Theater - "Images and Words", Transatlantic - "SMPT:e", Spock's Beard - "V"
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Versatile album that grows on you..., June 7, 2005
By 
PeteMCI (Espoo, Finland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Octavarium (Audio CD)
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. Not really my cup of tea, but still a fine song when you're in the right mood. "These Walls" with its spacious sounds during the verse and melodic chorus over metal 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. These songs are certainly enjoyable, but not typical of DT. Especially so with the lack of instrumental virtuoso passages typical of DT during tracks 2-4. But not to worry, the remaining four songs represent the diversified 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 soft soundscapes featuring 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 may not have made justice to James LaBrie's abilities, 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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68 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly solid, accomplished; maybe even one of DT's finest, June 11, 2005
By 
This review is from: Octavarium (Audio CD)
It seems it's recap time for one of the most intelligent metal bands around: while they mainly continued reaching in new directions with Six Degrees and Train of Thought, this one is more of a summation of what they learned to do right on those two albums, minus (mostly) the missteps. There's some of the grand proggy bombast of 6D, but here it's not overblown and actually serves the songs, especially in the big closing title track. Likewise, the angry-metal-ish bent of ToT is present in spots but it seems appropriate rather than forced. If you haven't heard either of those yet, this still shouldn't disappoint.. if you're completely new to DT this could make a good first pick, but you still need Images & Words to make your life complete.

The sound is as varied as they've ever done, although perhaps somewhat more 'light' overall than usual. "The Root of All Evil" is the next part of Portnoy's recurring series (trilogy)? and so it's just as fierce and heavy as "Glass Prison" and "This Dying Soul" with some reprises of previous themes to tie them together. "I Walk Beside You" with its joyous soaring (even radio-friendly) chorus has been getting comparisons to U2 all over the place - though it's not nearly as bland/cheesy as that may suggest - and "The Answer Lies Within" is a lovely simple ballad in the tradition of "Eve" or "Anna Lee." Those who scoff at more straightforward 'poppy' stuff won't find much to like there, but I don't see a problem. "Panic Attack" should make up for it for the progheads - it's a frightening eight minutes of laser-sharp hyper riffing frenzied enough to induce claustrophobia.

It's probably inevitable that any band under the 'progressive' umbrella has to use an orchestra at some point, but that's pulled off excellently as well. "Sacrificed Sons" has a palpable air of doom and sorrow despite being fairly melodically & lyrically predictable, and the huge title track weaves the strings into a several-movement epic to rival "A Change of Seasons." It's derivative of a couple obvious 70s prog bands, but this is the album's finest moment: it's sweeping, it's powerful, it goes from restrained/subdued to all-out virtuosity to sweepingly gorgeous to crazy-scary and back without blinking an eye. I'm not sure how else to describe the thing since I haven't really even started unraveling it. It's a nice touch that it ends with "the story ends as it began," closing with the same piano hit that opens the album. Fun.

Thematic-connection lovers should eat this disc up. It's their eighth album (hence the title), there are eight tracks, and the insert pictures have 5s and 8s all over the place. The tracks & lyrics in the booklet are set under a music staff labeled 1/8, 2/8, 3/8 etc. and though there's plenty of time-sig-jumping, they tend to stick to the appropriate number ("These Walls" is primarily 3/4, "Panic Attack" has a recurring case of 5/8 and so on). Each set of lyrics also has a key signature above it, and if I knew any music theory I could probably say whether the keys evenly span a full octave over the course of the disc. But I don't, so you're on your own.

Overall: I say it's their best work at least since Metropolis 2, and if the last two left you lukewarm in spots, this should come as a welcome relief. And if they didn't, then there's no reason to hesitate here. It's one to devour.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ..., July 28, 2005
This review is from: Octavarium (Audio CD)
Dream Theater are in a difficult place: no matter what they do, their many fans will complain. It is true that SDOIT did have some major weaknesses, but Train of Thought was blasted by fans for being too heavy, not having enough keyboards, or wasting James LaBrie. I agree that LaBrie's vocal parts were weak, but as for the other two, it was Dream Theater evolving. Fans just complained about the fact that Petrucci's guitar was dominant and overlooked the fact that it was them at their most consistent and strongest lyrically. They didn't meander off without a direction like they constantly did in "Scenes." Unfortunately, Dream Theater listened to those fans and tried to fix everything that those fans have complained about: Petrucci is given no room to work, another 20+ epic was written, plus they tried to make themselves more accessible. Hence tracks 2-4 were penned: 2 being a sappy ballad, 3 seemingly inspired by Coldplay, and 4 sounding like modern U2. Few are the fans that will enjoy these, although now that I think about it, if they had done something more along the lines of "War"-era U2, the results might have been different; just a thought.

Anyway, "The Root of All Evil" has been trashed by many of the reviews for some reason; I thought it was great. Heavy rhythm guitars and I like the tuning that Rudess used for his solo. Petrucci's solo is short and weak, but they redeem for that with a haunting piano outro (although I admit I have a weakness for piano outro's, some of my favorite songs being DT's "In the Name of God," Faith No More's "Epic," and Opeth's "Leper Affinity"). "Panic Attack" starts out with a complex bass section by Myung, and this would probably be one of my favorite DT songs if Petrucci didn't deliver his weakest solo ever. In "Never Enough," Petrucci goes for quality instead of quantity, making his solo one of his best. "Sacrificed Sons" seems about 2-3 years late, but the instrumental section is great. This is really Petrucci's only extended solo, and he takes full advantage. His riff after the solo is memorable as well. "Octavarium" is difficult for me to grade, because I have only heard several songs that long. I can't really tell if it's good or not as a whole; there are many slow and boring sections in the song, something that wasn't in "A Change of Seasons" and Symphony X's "Odyssey," which were interesting the entire way through, but then again, those two set the bar pretty high. Throughout the album James LaBrie proves he is not the weak link in the band. His vocal work is his best in ten years at least; especially in "The Root of All Evil" and "Never Enough" where his singing is top-notch.

Anyway, I wish people would stop comparing this to DT's past albums. It isn't a return to Images & Words, whoever says so is wrong. It is a progression, and while there are some good and even great moments, it is far from their best. Even so, there is enough good stuff to make this a worthwhile purchase.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to their roots, June 7, 2005
By 
Scott Bennett (Lake In The Hills, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Octavarium (Audio CD)
First of all, I have been a die-hard Dream Theater fanatic since 1989 so my reviews might be considered "Biased" but I will try to be as objective as possible.

For the first time in a long time, the first 2 tracks off the new DT CD didn't impress me. I am not saying that they are bad but I just feel that they were somewhat "Stale" and regurgitated, reminding me of tracks from "Train of Thought" and "Anna Lee" from Falling Into Infinity".

Things got better with "These Walls" and the VERY U2 sounding "I Walk Beside You" but then came "Panic Attack" and I got those old goosebumps that DT has given me over the past 16 years. This song just rocks your sock off and could have easily been on Train of Thought. "Never Enough" is a good song but the CD really get exciting and worth the money when you get to the last 2 songs, especially the title track "Octavarium". This is what Dream Theater is about...it's hard, it's mellow, it's both. it's complex, it's ORCHESTRA!!...It's AWESOME! Can you say another epic in the mold of "Change of Seasons"??

I CANNOT WAIT to see some of these songs live, especially "Octavarium". Like any Dream Theater CD, this CD will (and is) get better with every listen because it is just impossible to absorb the complexity and beauty with one or two listens. That is why I love these guys so much...their CDs don't get old fast and they give you a LOT of good music to digest.

It is unfair to rate this CD to other Dream Theater CDs because I need to listen to it about another 300 times! 8-) However, as far as first impressions go, I would rate it over "Train of Thought" (mainly due to the versatility of this CD...not just "Heavy") but definitely lower than "Scenes From a Memory", which I consider the best CD ever, PERIOD!.

Bottom line, if you are an old time Dream Theater fan like me, you will love this CD because it contains all the elements of "Classic DT". However, if you came onboard the "Train of Thought" CD, this CD might shock you because only 2 of the songs ("Panic Attack" and "The Root of all Evil") are heavy enough to qualify. Still, if you are a musician or just appreciate beautiful, complex music by the greatest ensemble of musicians in one band on the planet...BUY THIS CD NOW!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shine On , You Crazy Octavarium..., June 8, 2005
By 
DRMMP (Atlanta, GA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Octavarium (Audio CD)
First of all, let me pre-qualify myself by stating I am a huge fan of DT and Liquid Tension Experiment. I am very familiar with their entire catalog, have numerous full band scores of their work, and have studied both guitar and keyboards at Berklee COM. While I obviously appreciate DT's musical "chops", it is not what I solely look forward to in their compositions.

I purchased this CD with great expectations the very morning it was released. Upon listening to it the first time, my first impression of Octavarium was somewhat of a letdown. SFOAM and IAW blew me away upon first listening, I might add. So far, I have listened to Octavarium completely about 6 times and although it has grown on me somewhat, it does not come close to SFOAM in terms or musicality or compositions, even if this is not a "concept" album, per se.

On the plus side, the production/recording qualiyu on Octavarium is top notch, but should be expected for a band of this caliber. There is alot of synths/SFX sounds used, so there is qreat low-end/bass on the record, especially when played through a decent sound system with subs. This is not a Petrucci "chops" album, but considering the "shredfest" that was on Train Of Thought, and slso the fact that John just released his solo album, perhaps it makes sense for him to take a more "backseat" role with this DT album. If you want to hear keyboards, this is the album to get, as Jordan clearly is in the driver seat for this album.

Although I've never been a huge fan of Labrie's voice, you don't hear as much "operatics" from him on this recording. His vocals are more processed with effects giving way to a more experimental and atmospheric sound.

The tracks are all good on Octavarium, don't get me wrong. They just didn't "wow" me upon first listening. The title track is the standout in my opinion as it showcases DT's many influences (Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, Marillion, etc.). Definately worth getting if you're a hardcore DT fan, but in my opinion, casual listeners should start with SFOAM or earlier releases (as has been already mentioned in prior reviews)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DT Shines On, July 28, 2005
This review is from: Octavarium (Audio CD)
*I have been an avid fan of this band since the release of When Dream and Day Unite. Yes, that's before Images & Words.*

Following the much-needed earthen heaviness of Train of Thought (I can't comprehend why anyone claiming to be a DT fan would think ToT too heavy, the band has been heavy since day 1) DT shifts gears again.

This recording would easily get 5 stars if there weren't any throw-away songs and was amazing from beginning to end. As it stands, however:

1. The Answer Lies Within, the ballad at track 2, is ... completely uninspiring to me. Sorry!

2. The chorus of I Walk Beside You (track 4) does nothing for me either. Heard it before. The verse is interesting however and redeems the song. *The next person that relates this song to anything resembling U2 should be struck by lightning. Where on earth do you manage _that_ comparison?*

3. I feel like I have to fast foward through the beginning of Sacrificed Sons to get to the good stuff. But man, is the good stuff good.

However, the remaining entirety of the recording is sublime, brilliant and just when I think after 16 years there isn't anything left by DT to make my jaw drop, they do it again.

There are instrumental sections throughout that, as always, will send chills up your spine. The Petrucci/Rudess gunslinging just keeps getting better, more focused, more intricate and utterly breathtaking. These guys are in top form.

As may have been said elsewhere, the 24:00 title track is worth the price of admission alone. Instant prog classic.

If you refine out several of the aforementioned 'bleh' moments, you have some of the best music DT has penned in the last decade.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love the Diversity and Focus, June 7, 2005
This review is from: Octavarium (Audio CD)
After one spin through the CD I didn't quite know what to make of it. I knew I had just heard the most diverse DT offering yet (ballads, rock, flute, metal, prog jams, pop, you name it) but neither loved it nor hated it. Rather, I couldn't wait to hear it again.

I remembered that I didn't fall in love with Scenes From A Memory right off the bat, but now I consider it one of my absolute favorite CD's of all-time, if not my favorite. Both Six Degrees and Train of Thought I enjoyed immediately and listened to incessantly, but I don't rank either as "classics." So does this mean that Octavarium will become a classic for me?

It's too early to tell. What I do know, however, is that after a couple more listens I know I've heard a great CD full of focused songwriting, diverse sounds, some signature DT, and (dare I say) some down-right catchy songs.

1) The Root of All Evil (8:03) - Part III of Mike Portnoy's AA saga; references lyrics and musical passages from both Part I (The Glass Prison) and particularly Part II (This Dying Soul).A solid rock song; no major frills, a short "DT-style" jam section. Not a DT classic, but a very cool song nonetheless, and a great opener.

2) The Answer Lies Within (5:26) - Track 1 segues into this beautiful, simple Elton John-like ballad. The lyrics struck me as a little unoriginal and too simple at first, but after realizing that John Petrucci is singing it to one of his children, I can accept it much more easily. While his lyrics may not be as deep or complicated as they were on DT's first 4 albums, I have to respect that he's in a different place in his life as a family man and has new things on his mind.

3) These Walls (6:59) - Love this song. Dare I say it sounds like Korn meets Journey. What sounds like a tuned-down 7-string guitar opens a song with beautiful swaying melodies and a simple but powerful solo that reminds me a lot of Neil Schon from Journey. All in all a simple song with very powerful, beautiful and heavy melodies. This is what I love about Dream Theater - their ability to capture all these elements in one song.

4) I Walk Beside You (4:29) - By far the most straight-forward pop song DT has ever written. Seems like blasphemy for a prog-rock band, but I've gotta hand it to them - they write one hell of a beautiful, catchy pop/rock song. Comparisons to U2, Coldplay and Journey will be made, and if this song came from a more mainstream band, I guarantee it would hit huge on the radio. Proof that DT has the ability to write anything.

5) Panic Attack (7:16) - Ah, the metal song. After three slower, more melodic songs, this song comes at the perfect time. It sounds a lot like the C-tuned songs on Train of Thought with some obvious influence from the band Muse in the middle and end vocal lines. Overall a great heavy DT track.

6) Never Enough (6:33) - My least favorite song on the album. While DT has always borrowed liberally from their influences, this song just sounds waaaay too much like Muse, particularly the current single "Stockholm Syndrome." It's a pretty cool song with some awesome keyboard work, a nice opening riff and a cool middle section, but particularly in the verses and somewhat in the chorus I don't even feel like I'm listening to Dream Theater.

7) Sacrificed Sons (10:42) - Awesome. The 9/11-inspired lyrics from James seem a little too late and feel like they were already done in their song "In the Name of God," but all the music from start to finish is quintessential DT. Nice touch with the orchestra as well.

8) Octavarium (24:00) - I need to give this one a few more listens. I feel like some people instantly love it just because it's an epic, and there are many parts of the songs that instantly grabbed me (the eerie Pink Floyd-like intro, the opening melodies right before the lyrics), but it's not hitting me as a "DT classic" yet.

That being said, this is a 75-minute album that I've owned for less than a day, so I don't expect everything to hit me all at once, but I'm already hearing an excellent, well-thought-out work from one of the best bands around. I definitely recommend this album for anyone, and especially for a novice DT listener as it seems to have something for everyone.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Progression...and is that John Myung I hear?, June 28, 2005
This review is from: Octavarium (Audio CD)
Although I came to love Train of Thought in time, I remember that upon my first listen I was wondering why every song had to be 10-12 minutes just revved up to the max with heaviness, with extended guitar and keyboard solos. Of course that is what I suppose we all expect from DT--expertise. However, call it blasphemy if you want, but I have felt at times DT has put technical prowess ahead of feeling and emotion in their songs. This is not a bad thing, as it's earned the respect of musicians everywhere. But at the same time, I felt as if they continued doing the same thing, it would mark more a state of stagnation than the evolution of a "progressive band." DT has already shown they can write wonderful concept albums with SFAM and the second disc of 6DOIT. There's no point to continue walking down that road again (see Rush after their Hemispheres days). But this CD showcases a greater knack for melody, and playing within the context of the song and for the song. In addition, the tracks are very diverse so that if you want to listen to a flat out incredible rocking song you can put on Panic Attack, or if you want to mellow out you can listen to These Walls.

Although there has been criticism about Portnoy's and Petrucci's "simplified" playing, I feel it's a bold step to try to create a true song rather than a musical work. Even the so-called "simplicity" of this album isn't all that simple at all, as there are still great performances and wonderful playing across the board. Plus, it's a different story when you know a band can play incredibly and steps out in a "less complex" direction, compared to a band who simply plays easy stuff because that's all they can do. Don't get me wrong, I'm a guitarist and love all of Petrucci's wonderful riffs and solos, but at the same time, if I wanted to listen to a guitarist who simply showcases his playing in a repetitive manner, I could pick up any Yngwie CD. To me, Petrucci's playing has become almost orchestral on this album. I like guitarists who are able to experiment and very their sound and style, both with their rhythm and lead playing. In addition, Portnoy's toms came off sounding very good. In the past, there have been times where they have come across sounding very hollow on some of the records.

And finally, finally I can HEAR John Myung! My favorite bassist behind Geddy Lee, I was so glad to actually be able to pick out his bass lines for the first time. The guy is so talented, yet he always seems to be buried way back in the mix.

The only reason I give this album 4 stars rather than 5 is that, I must admit, the lyrics are woefully inept at times. The first time I heard Answer Lies Within I almost cringed at the simplicity and cliche of the words. But I guess that's just because I've also come to expect expertise in that department from DT as well. Overall, I'm very happy to add this to my DT collection.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OCTAVARIUM...AN UNEXPECTED BUT NECESSARY STEP..., June 20, 2005
By 
alper ercan (ankara, turkey) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Octavarium (Audio CD)
Almost every band needs to evolve at a certain point of its history. For some bands, the evolution process is continuous - as the concept of progressive music righteously requires. Based on the definition of evolution, it is possible to say that, DT has been evolving since the day "When Dream and Day Unite" was released, for every DT album is at least slightly different than the other. However one thing remained unchanged and was dominant throughout every album: Display of extraordinary instrument playing skills. I consider "Octavarium" as an unexpected but long awaited step in the musical evolution of DT.

In Octavarium, the performances of LaBrie and Rudess seem to take the spotlight. For a very long time, I have never witnessed a better performance from James LaBrie. The vocal lines are strong and very melodic. Rudess and his keys are dominating the album and his performance is also outstanding. Myung's playing is greater than his ego as usual.

However, contradictory to my opinion that LaBrie and Rudess taking the spotlight, I feel that the real heroes of Octavarium are Portnoy and Petrucci. For the first time in DT history, I am hearing a less busy and streamlined playing from the duo, which I find to be quite professional and more mature. I was among the bigmouths who accused Portnoy and Petrucci for overplaying and for displaying a constant show of virtuosity - in TOT to be specific-. We all know how well these guys can play, and they do not have to and they should not try to prove anything to anybody at this stage of their musical development. Virtuosity, which should be used when necessary, should serve the music and the song, but vice versa is not preferable. At least this is what I've learned from the music of Rush, ELP, Marillion, Queensryche and 17 years of professional musicianship. I am not saying "less is more", but "more is definitely not always more". As a drummer I'd like to classify the drumming in Octavarium as "flawless" and hail Mike Portnoy. No extra or missing notes and definitely mature playing. The rhythmic progression in "Never Enough" is incredible. Same goes for Petrucci. The solo album seems to work well for him.

Except for the title track "Octavarium" and "Sacrificed Sons", the songs in Octavarium are less complex than the former DT songs, both in terms of composition and level of displayed virtuosity. However please note that, it is always more difficult to make a simple (for DT standards of course) song click. The first six songs really clicked for me after a couple of listening. Especially, "Root of All Evil", "Never Enough" and "These Walls". In addition "Sacrificed Sons" is a wonderful song. At first, it was very difficult for me to get into the title track "Octavarium", but now I really enjoy the masterpiece.

I do not care if people blame DT for trying to be commercial. To me "Octavarium" is not an act of commercialization, but a successful attempt to write good music without overconsidering the aspect of virtuosity. It had to happen someday, and I'm glad that it happened.
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Octavarium
Octavarium by Dream Theater (Audio CD - 2005)
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