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Octavarium

3.9 out of 5 stars 441 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 7, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

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Octavarium 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
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 7, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Atlantic
  • ASIN: B0009A1AS2
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (441 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,843 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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By Mike on July 28, 2005
Format: 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.
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