DREAM THEATER — Octavarium

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DREAM THEATER - Octavarium cover
3.75 | 121 ratings | 11 reviews
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Album · 2005

Tracklist

1. The Root of All Evil (8:25)
2. The Answer Lies Within (5:33)
3. These Walls (7:36)
4. I Walk Beside You (4:29)
5. Panic Attack (8:13)
6. Never Enough (6:46)
7. Sacrificed Sons (10:42)
8. Octavarium (24:00)

Total Time: 75:46

Line-up/Musicians

- James LaBrie / vocals
- John Petrucci / guitars, backing vocals
- Jordan Rudess / keyboards, lap steel guitar
- John Myung / bass
- Mike Portnoy / drums, backing vocals and percussion

- Elena Barere / violin
- Carol Webb / violin
- Katharine Fong / violin
- Ann Lehmann / violin
- Katherine Livolsi-Stern / violin
- Laura McGinniss / violin
- Catherine Ro / violin
- Ricky Sortomme / violin
- Yuri Vodovoz / violin
- Vincent Lionti / viola
- Karen Dreyfus / viola
- Richard Locker / cello
- Jeanne LeBlanc / cello
- Pamela Sklar / flute
- Joe Anderer / French horn
- Stewart Rose / French horn

About this release

Label: Atlantic Records
Release date: June 7th, 2005

Thanks to Time Signature, Vehemency, Unitron for the updates

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DREAM THEATER OCTAVARIUM reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

martindavey87
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.
Diogenes
I’m probably (definitely, more like it) in the minority here, but I don’t think Dream Theater’s early 2000s efforts are very good. It’s undeniable that Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and Train of Thought are both mind-blowingly technical and progressive, but the seemingly endless wanking gets tiresome. And while we’re on that subject…if there’s one thing more boring than listening to a bunch of world-class musicians randomly stuff as many notes as possible into 70 minutes, it’s listening to a bunch of world-class musicians play watered-down radio rock void of their trademark progression for 70 minutes. That would be Octavarium.

The main problem with Dream Theater’s eighth studio full-length is that it has an amazing title track with a concept that needs seven other songs in order to exist. It’s not a concept album as a whole; we’re not talking Scenes from a Memory 2 (3, if you want to be anal about it) here. The album has seven tracks that are unrelated to each other, with the eighth and final one wrapping it all together as if to say, “This album is secretly mega-progressive and you didn’t even realize it! How you like them NUGGETS?!” It’s a neat idea in theory, but the band puts all of its eggs in one basket, playing so far below their talent level most of the way that you’d think it’s an entirely different group.

I’d like to address the good part(s) first, but that wouldn’t make much sense from a chronological viewpoint, so…the first seven songs on Octavarium range from being mediocre and good for a couple of listens to just plain bad and skip-worthy. The Root of all Evil is okay; it’s certainly heavy, probably the heaviest song on the album, but the whole Portnoy-AA saga has gotten a little stale by this point. These Walls is decent too, but nothing spectacular. After that, the album falls apart: The Answer Lies Within is the lamest Dream Theater ballad ever recorded, which is saying something considering their ballads aren’t usually good anyway. Panic Attack and Never Enough are both pseudo-heavy, starting off well but having absolutely nothing memorable about them. I Walk Beside You is not worth listening to (unless you want to hear Dream Theater attempt a U2 cover-What the hell?), and you deserve a cookie if you can get through Sacrificed Song without falling asleep. Bluntly, the first “phase” of Octavarium is riddled with pop influences, making for an underwhelming listen of an underachieving band.

Now, for the title track. This is where Dream Theater wakes up and writes one damn good song. It’s got all of the stuff you would expect-it’s broken up into movements (one of them involving each of the concepts of the other tracks), it’s really freaking long, it’s got a bunch of instrumental work (bearable since you haven’t been sitting through it for most of the album already), and it has the professional feel that you want to hear from these guys. It’s actually an “epic” (not just a long song considered to be such), and would go down as one of the best tracks Dream Theater ever wrote. Finally, the band gets its crap together and tries…and then the album’s over.

Pretending that the skip button doesn’t exist, the $34,729 question is: can YOU-yes, you-sit through 50 minutes of mediocrity to get to 24 minutes of pure prog excellence? And if you can, is it even worth it? You might as well just buy the title track on Amazon or iTunes and save yourself the hassle. Obviously, this is the best Dream Theater album for newbies or people who generally don’t like the band, since it’s so basic compared to everything else they do, but it’s also among their least fulfilling and enjoyable. The title track saves Octavarium from being an uninspired disaster and then some, carrying the rest of the album on its back, but the most it can all add up to is still a good-but-not-great release.
Xaxaar
A lot of people absolutely love this album, and a lot of people absolutely hate it. I'm a bit more on the hate side.

Let me just say that this album is incredibly inconsistent. It has a bunch of ups and downs, but as you can tell with the rating I give it, a bit more downs.

It starts off the album with "The Root of All Evil." This is song, as well with others from various albums, is about Mike Portnoy's AA experience. Personally, I don't like any of the songs that deal with those; they all sound extremely cheesy to me and this is no exception sadly. I do like the intro to the song, though.

Now that we're on the second song, "The Answer Lies Within," I realize I'm going to use the word "cheese" a lot. I'm sorry for my weak vocabulary, but yes, this song does smell of the cheese. It doesn't really have any redeeming qualities for me, just nothing works here.

Next we have "These Walls." Dare I say, the first good song? Yep, I do enjoy this song quite a bit. I mean it's not absolutely great, but it is a good song. No really bad or really awesome moments, just consistent all the way through.

And after all those compliments, we come to this monstrosity. Remember when I said I was going to say cheese too much? Well, "I Walk Beside You" is the king of the cheese on the album. Kinda makes me gag of just the odor it gives off. Probably the worst track of the album.

Next we have...oh this one, if I have to hear this song on the radio again I'm gonna hurt someone. "Panic Attack" is definitely their most overrated piece of music. Now, it's not a horrible song, but I have no idea why it's so popular. It's just kind of the equivalent to decent filler. At least it's better than its predecessor.

"Never Enough" is the next song and it's not quite as cheesy as it is corny. Yes, those are different to me. The instruments aren't actually too bad on this one, it's the vocals that slap me across the face with corn. I am not a huge James fan, I will not hide that, but I feel like this was even bad for him.

Now this is when the song starts getting enjoyable for me, better late than never, eh? "Sacrificed Sons" has a very nice build-up going for itself in the beginning, and then when it goes off the song is actually quite great. Definitely the better than the songs before it. Oh, and I'm sure everyone knows it has to do with 9/11 and all that junk...which is actually quite fitting for when I'm doing this review. This is the first song that gets a solid thumbs up from me.

Now "Octavarium," the self-titled track, the 24 minute long epic, it just HAS to be good, right? ...Right! This is actually my favorite track on the album, not close. If this wasn't here, this album would probably be even rated lower than I have it now, but luckily this song is here. And yes, it is a masterpiece, and I don't like to throw that word around. This song is sooooo much better than the rest of the album, it's even where I coined something I say quite a bit "Octavarium Syndrome."

So yes, enjoy your 24 minute long epic, and Sacrificed Sons too, because that's all this album really has going for it.
The Block
When I first got onto this site, I was very surprised to see that Octavarium had gotten such low ratings compared to the other albums of its caliber. It I was the best Dream Theater album up to that point. It includes eight exceptional songs to go along with it being the eighth DT album so far. These are my thoughts on all of the songs.

1/8 "The Root of All Evil" is the third installment of Mike Portnoy's 12 step AA program and may be considered to be the weakest but with its classic thrash jam, catchy riff, and chorus it is defiantly a good song. The Alcoholics Anonymous suite also includes "The Glass Prison" from 6 Degrees of Inner Turbulence, "This Dying Soul" from Train of Thought, "Repentance" from Sysmatic Chaos, and "The Shattered Fortress" on Black Clouds and Silver Linings.

2/8 "The Answer Lies Within" starts out with nothing but bells but turns into one of the better songs on this album. It is a very slow song with guitar and chorus all through out the song and it is driven by the piano. It is also the main ballad of this work and has heavy emotions throughout the whole song.

3/8 "These Walls" is the first of three DT classics on this album. In the beginning it is a mix of heavy and soaring sounds and this continues through the whole song. Throughout the whole song there is awesome guitar and on the choruses Portnoy's bass kick and Rudess's keyboard playing is masterful.

4/8 "I Walk Beside You" is one of the slowest songs put out by Dream Theater but it is still an awesome song for prog rock fans. It starts out with a soft ticking sound which turns into drums than leads into more guitar and drums. While the song starts out kind of dark it grows into a lighter song and has good vacals.

5/8 "Panic Attack" is one of the songs that shows why DT is such a great band along with Octavarium and some others. It has very good riffs in it with some amazing drumming tucked in. In the middle of it all John Petrucci nails a difficult drum solo which puts this song over the top.

6/8 "Never Enough" has very good keyboards and is one of the better metal songs on this album. The heavy riffs and Labrie/Portnoy lyrics blend together perfectly. The instrumental mid- sectional is owned by Rudess and Petrucci.

7/8 "Sacrificed Sons" starts out with what sound like prayers and actual broadcasts from the 9/11 tragedy. Throughout the whole "broadcast" you can hear a wandering violin in the background. Then in the middle Petrucci hits an amazing solo that transfers great back into the main piece. This song gives you the right kind of emotions for this kind of song; anger and sadness.

8/8 "Octavarium starts out with a Pink Floyd opening that shows signs of Shine on You Crazy Diamonds. After the opening it turns into a small flute solo that sounds very good along with the intro. Than in the middle it turns to a bit of Yes, Rush, and some Black Sabbath. Even though they put all these different bands together they still make it sound awesome. Then they end the song with a great French horn outro.

Great album. Great Rating. 5 stars.

Phonebook Eater
Dream Theater's eight studio album is a big surprise. After the great "6 Degrees Of Inner Turbulence", where the band seemed to have reached a new type of sound, and "Train Of Thought", where the sound is even more diverse but a little less successful, Dream Theater return with an outstanding album. I must say, I really didn't expect it to be this good. The style is the typical 00' DT sound: heavy guitars, virtuous keyboards, fast rhythms, nice catchy melodies and choruses: the same characteristics as their previous album, Train Of Thought, although "Octavarium" is much more original, creative, and fun to listen to.

"The Root Of All Evil" has now become one of my favorite DT songs. Catchy riff, great chorus, and a repetition of the chorus of the song "This Dying Soul", from their previous album, even though the lyrics are different. Fantastic, one of the best of the album.

"The Answer Lies Within" isn't as nice as the previous track, but it still has it's moments. It's mostly a ballad, with a nice melody, but the chorus doesn't seem to be at the same level as the verse. It would have been a nicer song otherwise.

"These Walls" is a great, heavy song, with a nice verse, chorus, nice everything. Mike Portnoy does a brilliant performance for this song, in my opinion.

"I Walk Beside You" is another really good song, kind of a weird verse, but a lovely chorus, very catchy and moving. Even the pre chorus has something special. But my favorite part is after the second chorus, where all the band joins for the backing vocals, and the melody is fantastic. Excellent.

"Panic Attack" is maybe the most technical and heavy song of the album. Personally It isn't one of my favorites, but there are some great passages. The verse is OK, the chorus is better but not as catchy as others. A little overrated song.

"Never Enough" has an awesome intro, but everything seems to go downhill from there. The verse is a little irritating, the chorus as well. The only thing that saves this song is the intro, which is also repeated after each chorus.

"Sacrificed Sons" is the second longest song of the album. The intro is just some different people, one of them sounds like Portnoy, talking about different stuff, but shortly after the song starts, with a pretty nice verse. The chorus, which arrives after a few minutes, is great, and really puts the song onto a new higher level. From there, the song is a little more brightened up. A fabulous, fast part arrives after the chorus. Very catchy. A short keyboard solo follows, then a guitar one. The melody then get's slower, then again fast. Then Labrie starts singing again, and it goes on until the end. A great song, one of the best of the album.

"Octavarium" can easily be the best Dream Theater song. It starts with a very Pink Floydish atmosphere: a slow, atmospheric keyboard, accompanied by an excellent Gilmour like guitar. The mood is quite mysterious, making it most definitely a progressive rock song, more than metal. Ahead, the mood gets more epic sounding (think Lord Of The Rings), even though the atmosphere is the same. All the band comes in in about 4'00'', immediately followed by a beautiful acoustic guitar part, accompanied with a flute, instrument that I've never heard in a DT song. Soon Labrie starts singing, and the music sounds more like a ballad now. There is an increasing, climax, until the part that seems to be the chorus arrives. And what a chorus, one of those choruses that makes you understand that it's just a start of an epic journey. Then a new verse comes, with a very crunchy bass riff, and an awesome rhythm section. A new chorus arrives, but it isn't as good as the first one. The verse is repeated, and when it ends, a new part of the song starts. The keyboards give an awesome and essential contribute to this grand opening: they sound very Symphonic Proggish. Another part starts, more aggressive and quite catchy. The verse is awesome, the chorus is even better, with Portnoy's backing vocals. After this whole part, there is an awesome, mind blowing, keyboard riff/solo, soon to be alternated with guitar and bass. After this, we find a lightning fast guitar solo, possibly my favorite Petrucci solo. Another awesome keyboard part comes in, immediately alternated with a great guitar part. When the new part comes in, everything is calmer, but the atmosphere gets more tense and tense, thanks to Labrie's increasing climax of aggressiveness. Until he's yelling like never before: "Trapped Inside This Octavarium". The part closes and a new part, which has the same melody as the one that was presented earlier, around the first six minutes, starts. A slower guitar solo is followed. Around 23'00'', the grand finale arrives. And the song ends, as well as this terrific album.

I couldn't give this 5 stars, because they were some weak moments. But 4 is good too.
Metalbaswee
Trapped inside this Octavarium. And its true, after 2 years of intense Dream Theater listening, i can without doubt say, i'm still trapped inside its greatness, the big sounds, the heavy songs, the mellow songs, a greatly balanced album. Let me pick some songs out of it:

The Root Of All Evil: The song starts of on the note where Train Of Thought left off. The pounding drums and the heavy riff really give this album an abnormal kickstart. Being 8 and a half minute, the song is a bit to long, in my opninion.

Panic Attack: Great upbeat fast insane song. It's heavy, it's proggy, it has a insane unison, typical insane double bass by Mike Portnoy. Awesome song.

Octavarium: One of the best things Dream Theater has ever written. This dong is very balanced, and has a very complete feel to it, due to the slow and mellow, and gradualy building it up to the epic ending part and possibly one of John Petrucci's best solos.

Written by Bas Weijenberg for the MAC Network.
Time Signature
Never enough...

Genre: progresive metal

Being less heavy and more complex than "Train of Thought", this album is undoubtedly considered a return to form by many fans who prefer progressive and complex music to heavy music. When I first heard this album, I was, not disappointed, but I honestly thought that it was too soft, and I did not really like it to start with. The more I listened to it, I started to appreciate it more and more, and now I think it is a very good progressive metal album.

When it all comes down, there is a lot of variation on the album, which I appreciate, and there are some strong tracks like "The Root of All Evil", "These Walls", and "Panic Attack".

This album should have a wide appeal to metal fans and non-metal fans alike.
Conor Fynes
'Octavarium' - Dream Theater (7/10)

I really don't see why some Dream Theater fans despise this album so much. What's wrong with it? Is it the fact that it has some relatively non-metal, mainstream leaning material? Is it the heavy drawing of influence from other prog rock sources? Nontheless, 'Octavarium' while not comparing to the truly amazing Dream Theater albums, is really good and if anything, worth buying it for the 25 minute epic.

The album really starts with a bang. 'The Root Of All Evil' is without a doubt the best part of the ongoing Alcoholic's Anonymous Suite. There is a fine mix of heaviness and progressiveness. It's essentially an example of what a good, modern Dream Theater song should sound like. Next is a song with heavy AOR influence, 'The Answer Lies Within.' It's pretty, but nothing special. It's probably the low point of the album, but it's indeed listenable.

'These Walls' is fine, although there's definately a few mainstream hooks in there. But the true mainstream feeling of the album comes in with 'I Walk Beside You,' which despite it being mainstream, I still enjoy it, and it has a very cool intro nontheless.

'Panic Attack' feels a bit too corny for me. There's great musicianship, but it's backed by rather lacking lyrics, and that spoils alot of the enjoyment for me. If you can stand the cheese though, 'Panic Attack' is a great song that showcases Dream Theater's heavier side.

Next comes 'Never Enough,' which has a great electronic/baroque feel. It's essentially a precursor to 'Systematic Chaos' 'Prophets Of War,' if you're more familiar with the newer Dream Theater. While being a great song, it still doesn't compare to the two remaining songs. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where the album starts to go full pace.

'Sacrificed Sons' is a ballad about the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers. It's beautifully sung by LaBrie, and has some great songwriting, before going into an all-out prog metal jam session, which also feels like a 'Systematic Chaos' song, 'Ministry Of Lost Souls.' It's an amazing song, and as an oddity in Dream Theater's modern works, there are actually some great lyrics to go along with it.

Bringing the album to a close is the epic 'Octavarium.' While it's not up to par with 'A Change Of Seasons,' it's a masterpiece in it's own right. I can still remember the first time listening to this song, the day I bought the CD. I literally put down everything I was doing and for twenty minutes, I did nothing more than lie on my bed, and listen to the majesty of it all. Starting out with an enveloping trance-like Continuum solo from Jordan Rudess, the band suddenly cuts in and I'm blown away. I expect alot from DT epics, and this one certainly did not dissapoint at all.

Octavarium is a great album, and will definately be enjoyed, if there isn't any expectation for another highly progressive all-out masterpiece. It's very good, and despite some of it's mainstream leanings, is a great Dream Theater album that does not dissapoint.

Pekka
Over the years this album has gone through an interesting rollercoaster ride from "pretty good" to "meh" to "their worst" to "not that bad" to "actually quite nice in fact". To me this is probably the most difficult DT album, not necessarily because the music is so hard to grasp, but my mind thinks differently than whichever organ handles the feeling side.

It begins with the very first riff of the very first song, I'd imagine that's a great riff to play and bang your head to, but my foot doesn't tap and my head doesn't nod. It's difficult to say where the problem lies, but later I found that I liked the Score version of the song much more, so I guess I could say that the drive and passion is missing on the studio recording and that they later found it playing live. The Root of All Evil is a decent prog metal tune, but one of the weaker tracks of the AA saga.

The next three tracks show DT at their most straightforward, something for which this album gets a lot of flak at times. For me especially the gentle ballad The Answer Lies Within and the U2-like rocker I Walk Beside You are some of the most enjoyable material on this album. Two of the most middle-of-the-road DT pieces ever, which can be seen as a bad thing, but it still proves that if their limbs slowed down in the future they could still craft some fine songs.

At the time of the release the band offered an edited version of Panic Attack as a teaser, and that got my hopes up. A great piece of full on aggressive prog metal with an interesting tone choice by James LaBrie in places. Very feminine and surprisingly fitting. Unfortunately I never came to like the rest of the album as much as that track, the only exception being the epic title track. Often praised as their finest piece ever, I'm not quite that enthusiastic but still find it one of the highlights of the new century DT. The opening section screams Pink Floyd with block letters and exclamation marks - a homage or a rip-off that's for each one to decide on their own - and after a lengthy keyboard and guitar soundcape comes the single most beautiful moment of their entire career delivered by an acoustic guitar and a touching flute. Wish they had more bits like this in their discography, this is absolutely marvellous. Through the patented DT twists and turns the track comes to a grand closing at exactly 24 minutes making it the second longest DT epic ever and my second favourite after the masterpiece that is A Change of Seasons.

One of the most versatile DT albums both in style and quality
AtomicCrimsonRush
Following the very metal heavy sounds of Train of Thought, Dream Theater opened up their veritable can of prog worms to produce a fan pleaser with heaps of prog elements including the multi movement suite epic tacked on for good measure - result a very accessible and highly revered album.

The musicianship is absolutely brilliant. Rudess and Myung shine on this album as they play some intricate passages that far surpass earlier work. Portnoy is great on drums as usual and I am particularly impresssed with the vocal performance of LaBrie who is at his best on each track. The effort is excellent. Interesting to note that Petrucci does not launch into complex lengthy guitar solos, the band are really working together as a unified organised unit.

It begins with the riff heavy Portnoy penned The Root of all Evil, beginning with a soft piano that builds to a fortissimo of keyboards and bass.

The Answer Lies Within is a quiet ballad that is melodic and ambient.

These Walls blends symphonic prog with heavy guitar effectively. The wall of sound of synths is wonderful.

I Walk Beside You is radio friendly and the most accessible on the album, though not necessarily a great track, it is at least tolerable.

Panic Attack features a good bassline showcasing Myung's prowess and the track is one of the highlights.

Never Enough features prog riffs and very competent keyboards.

One of the best tracks is Sacrificed Sons which begins with the 9/11 report and therefore clearly a tribute to the disaster that changed the world. Everything about this is great especially LaBrie's emotional performance.

I loved most of all the epic that clocks in at 24 minutes, Octavarium. Live on 'Score', this is a treasure with an amusing animated clip to complement it. The 'Shine On' Pink Floyd intro is marvellous showcasing Rudess' continuum keyboard gadget, as seen on 'Score' DVD and this continues for quite some time before the guitars chime in, acoustic, slide and fuzzed distortion. A very melancholy ambience is created.

The prog references are interlaced in the lyrics as seen here:

III. Full Circle Sailing on the seven seize the day tripper Diem's ready Jack the Ripper Owen Wilson Phillips and my Supper's ready Lucy in the Sky with diamond Dave's not here I come to save the Day for Nightmare Cinema show me the way to get back home Again

Flying Off the Hand With careful with That axe Eugene Gene the dance machine messiah Light my Fire gabba, gabba Hey hey my my Generations home again

It builds up to a crunching heavy riff and La Brie screaming 'Trapped in this Octavarium'!

It finishes the album on a high note and you know you have heard one of the best DT tracks in their history. The live version is as accomplished as this studio version, in some ways even better. Conclusion ? this is one of the best DTs and well worth grabbing at your earliest opportunity.

Members reviews

kluseba
This is the album where Dream Theater tries to forge its power of the tranquility that most of the songs inhabit.

Of course, there are a few exceptions, for example the opener and part of the famous twelve-step suite "The Root Of All Evil" to mention a good example, a complex and difficult opener that becomes more interesting and addicting the more you listen to it and the more you are able to see it in the context with its other parts. "Panic Attack" is also an exception and a very hectical and annoying track that is technically amazing but musically crushing every head and a rather negative example. Everything is played fast and in a very low tuned agressivity and terrible vocal sound effects make the whole thing sound very artificial, technical as if a robot was singing. I really don't like this experience.

Concerning the smoother songs, there are at first hand the ballads "The Answer Lies Within" and "I Walk Beside You" that are dominated by keyboards, smooth guitars and the calm vocals but those tracks don't show anything new or interesting and never reach the level of older ballads like the magic "Surrounded" and eventually fail. The first track is extremely smooth and at least fits to the general atmosphere of this album but it sounds rather like a "Evanescence" pop song meets the aesthetic boredom of a weaker "Awake" rip off. It's a song I normally skip on this record because it makes me disconnect or fall asleep after a very strong opener. "I Walk Beside You" sounds like if Bon Jovi met U2 so purist metalheads should be warned right now. This songs is interesting but nothing more than an average experimental track. "These Walls" is another rather smooth songs with a very strange introduction that fits to the style of the album but doesn't have anything surprising to be truly recognized or kept in mind eventually. It really seems that Dream Theater wanted to try out something completely different once again after the surprising and heavier "Train Of Thought" and from that perspective they have truly succeeded and added another element or piece of style to their diversified universe.

"Never Enough" sounds like "Muse" meets "Tool" and has smoother and harder parts but lacks of an own addicting identity. It is the only song that neither fits to the rest of the album and its two different styles and seems misplaced and lost. It would have found a better place on the "Systematic Chaos" record in my opinion. This song is surely not a bad one even if it is not groundbreaking but goes somehow under on this album and feels like a disturbing piece that doesn't fit into the whole puzzle.

Let's now talk about the two tracks that are really strong and dominating this album. Those two songs make this album worth to be listened to because the other tracks are all disturbingly weak and often even not of an average quality. Those two songs, the last ones of the album called "Sacrificed Sons" and "Octavarium" save this album from being the band's worst offering ever. What a chance that those two songs last over more than half an hour and that means that at least half of the music on thsi record is very good if you only take a look on the length. "Sacrificed Sons" begins with a very cinematic and weird introduction that goes over to a very smooth and calm melody that fits to the overall style and appearence of the record. The guitars sound very experimental, dreamy and eerie during the calm introduction while the chorus is harmonic and peaceful. This track slowly elaborates a feeling of smooth magic like the band was used to do so on the better moments on "Awake". After a while, the songs gets a little bit faster and the instruments proove their talent in various solos and surprising breaks without losing its epicness. The title track "Octavarium" is than a smooth and experimental masterpiece of tranquility where Tangerine Dream meets Genesis meets King Crimson. Just lay down, close your eyes, listen and dream or fly far away as this song creates magic moments and shows us the true quintessence of this album. Especially the keyboards and guitars sound as if they were from another world with there weird effects that create a new kind of sensations that Dream Theater haven't explored before. The smooth orchestrations like violins, violas, cellos, flutes and french horns that ahve already been used in "Sacrificed Sons" but that were less present in the overall sound add now something new to the musical universe and harmonize with the usual instruments and overall songwriting. Of course you have to be patient with this long masterpiece and it won't be easy for every metalhead to attentively listen to such a calm song for twenty-four minutes. But once you get used to this style, you will surely appreciate this epic piece of tranquility with its smooth changes and floating rhythms that are completely different from what he have been used to with songs like "In The Name Of God" from the last records.

But sadly the last two great songs can not let us forget the weaker six first songs that are rarely convincing and consistent. "Panic Attack" and "The Answer Lies Within" on the other hand are maybe among the worst songs the band has ever written. And that's why I can't give a very high rating to this album and must give you the advice to be really patient and open-minded to appreciate this record and that you may really admire it you more you listen to it.

Ratings only

  • tempest_77
  • tapfret
  • MorniumGoatahl
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