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Wednesday, 24. October 2007 - 22:05

Review: Dream Theater - Octavarium

Dieser Beitrag ist auch in deutsch verfügbar (empfohlen).

Boring, uncared, give another chance, loved. That's the short summary of the course of my relationship between me and the eigth Dream Theater album.

If you want to know, how the relationship ends, you have to read the rest of this review. (Smiley: smile)

The boys from New York made this album a little more easier than the predecessor “Train of Thought” was. On a german review I read once, that Octavarium is everything that Train of Thought wasn't, in the positive cases and in the negative cases. I prevail the positive aspects, because I don't like the hard line of Dream Theater so much.

Let's go directly into it; The songs in detail:

  1. The Root of all Evil: Very cool Intro and it's really going on afterwards. I like the song because of this very first minutes. There's a lack of the progressive continuous solos (there are just a few), but Dream Theater follows the “The first Song on a new DT disc is always good”-tradition. The in last time usual “selfquotation” happens directly in the opener, this time it's a part of “This dying Sould”. After the first close eight minutes, the listener heard a song, the makes you definitely want more.

  2. Unfortunatelly the direction changes, the ballad “The answer lies within” follows. In difference to the “Images and Words” album I think that such number is misplaced at this place. The track is not bad at all, even if Portnoy was more innovative in the past, by playing similar songs. But Rudess and LaBrie make a good show with this song.

  3. In the following “These Walls” Portnoy finde his old innovation again. He plays the verse in a very nice way. The Song is mainly provided by LaBrie and the tempo is going up a little bit. The best part is at the end of it, in which the sound of Jordan Rudess and the accents of Portnoy are convincing.

  4. But, just a moment. That sounds familiar: In the Intro of “I walk beside you” you can here a ticking clock again. We had that already in the first track of the “Scenes from a Memory”. I like it! (Smiley: smile)

    This song is the most plausible and sounds like a real mainstream song: A “normal” songstructure, a bridge without solo, that overtaxes the listener, a nearly poppy song length of something about four minutes and a transpose of the last refrain at the end. What sounds quite unprogressive and a little bit too generally, is exactly that. The song is good, no question, but on my opinion it would only find its way on a “Best of Dream Theater”-Compilation, if no one would ask the real fans.

  5. The Song “Panic Attack” sounds exactly like it's named. Until this moment it's the hardest track on the album and every musicians gets his part: Myung in the Intro, Rudess enhances the parts perfectly, Portnoy and Petrucci omnipresent in every case and LaBrie is making another great performance and shows, that his not only able to hit the fordable tones of the two songs that were before.

    The songstructure is not so linear and there are nice parts that can be found only once, like the one at 4:00. And there's finally a longer instrumentalpart, whose beginning is rythmical cool, fast and guitar orientated, but not in the way of the “Strike it hard and fast“-metal of the Train of Thougt album. Rudess und Petrucci are taking turns with the solos and the outro of this part und the final of this song are very good, especially the synthesizer sounds at the very end are very Rudess like (remembers me a little about “Feed the Wheel” ). Clearly one of the best songs on this album.

  6. The tempo stays nearly the same and with “Never enough” the listeners is taken back in the direction of the first track. There are not much quality fluctuations, merely the instrumental part, that starts at the middle of the songs, is a little bit better than the rest. But there's still a lack of the very blatant solos. Mainly I would again say the LaBrie is jutting out and the rest of the band is delivering accustomed Dream Theater work. But I think the transition to the next song is really mentionable.

  7. Sacrificed Sons” is, like the name already indicates, very political and is related to the terrorstrikes of 9/11. Even though the topic is omnipresent and is quite annoying, I think that the less political DT songs were always quite good. It's the same with that one. Everything starts very quiet and pianodominated in a 3/4 beat and is becoming very big and bombastic. From the fourth minute on it's really going on and the following instrumental part includes some of the best melodies of the whole album, like everytime enhanced with a big amount of odd time signatures. Especially Portnoy brings some change in the song, when he plays some 3/4 parts in a normal way and the next time, he plays them, like they were normal 4/4 (about 7:00). Short after that LaBrie is joining again and brings back the symphonic mood of the beginning that is carried by the whole band. The end of “Sacrifised Sons” is again very rythm depending and Portnoy plays some kind of solo to extend the song a little more, before the last power accents quit the second best track of this disc.

  8. Octavarium: My first though was It's just the obligatory longtrack. That's not a good sign, because Dream Theater showed with “Six Degrees on Inner Turbulence“ at last, that they can overact it.

    It starts with a cool Keyboardsolo, that stylistically remembers me a little bit about the beginning of “Trial of Tears”. Everyone who thinks that there's a guitar, have a look at the “Score” DVD, you can see that Jordan is playing this new instrument, that just sounds similar.

    Then the longest part of the song comes up. Until 11:39 everything stays very easy and silent, it's nearly boring and in a not very interesting arrangement. Very unplugged for DT circumstances. In my opinion this part contains not much very positve aspects, but I can imagine that friends of the early prog enjoy this parts. Only John Myung is worth mentioning, because he plays some really nice bass lines, that perfectly show that a bass can really differ from a guitar.

    After that you can hear a great Keyboardsolo from Rudess, that is attended by the band. Unfortunatelly this part acts like a loveless made bridge to the following rest.

    But this rest is the beginning of the best 10 minutes of music, I listened to for my whole life. It starts a clear rising tempo and a great drifting guitar line. Rudess comes in with a organ sound and LaBrie shows finally that he has a great voice. The lyrics he sings, are very abstruse, nearly without sense, but the words fit geniously to the music and Portnoy accents some syllables from his own text. After two durations the next instrmental part is comming, and it is built up so slow, that is nearly tearing up your nerves. There are some blatant inrythmic things, you never heard in that kind from Dream Theater. The funny thing is, that Rudess stays the whole time with his organ sound und so he creates the perfect synergy between the modern prog metal and the old retro prog. Und finally, yes finally the long awaited Rudess vs. Petrucci notebattle happens. The play in a crazy tempo for a crazy long time period one of the craziest lines they've ever done together. Again: Together, paralel, both of them, for the whole time. Wow!

    Hey, and then there was this part in which crazy guitar sounds make a contrast to the metalpower, that happened some seconds before. If you feel remembered about LTE and “Another Dimension”, let me say, you are absolutely right. Shortly after that, when you just think that the tone flood is over and can put out your fingernails that were drilled deep into the arm struts of your chairs, because of the tenseness. But when you think that, you're wrong. The five guys don't give you more than a short break and they are already working on the final highpoint, in which the big bomb ultimately explodes. What's happens? A simple structure is the choice of the band. It start with a dying away tone of the guitar, Portnoy goes on with his beat and the Petrucci and Myung come in again. Following îs Rudess and LaBrie prattles/sings again so mazily stuff. In the background there are strange voices and when it's nearly însufferable, Portnoy hammers a crashing rythm on his snare drum and all the others do the same. And LaBrie screams. He screams! He screams like his life is in danger! That's something we never had before in Dream Theater history and I was glad about it, because my general aversion against every shouting that has no trace of singing in it is known. But here it was okay after listening to it, some time. It fits, that's important. And it's extremely pushing the highpoint.

    After that the big final notes appear. Rudess is again the symphonic guy and everything sounds pretty winded down, but still very big. So you finally feel the deciduous adrinalin level and you'll slowly realize what great music you listened to. The end feels absolutely right and good and when the last note is dying away you really knew that you experienced a great album.

And that's exactly the point: Octavarium may contain some songs that do not convince you by 1000%, but all songs are one unity. I have my favorites, but mainly I like listening to the whole album.

It even helps itself in it's fascination and insularity, because it seems that there are hundreds of baubles. This time these baubles are not in a virtuoso way, they depend more on a great concept and a big portion of allusions. The last albums had this feature, that the first tone of the first songs always featured the last tone of the previous album. This time it's different, Octavarium closes itself by beginning again with “The root of all evil” at the end of the last song. The lyrics in the last parts feature this, too (Trapped inside this Octavarium and We move in circles).
For those of you, who are interested in finding riddles and number games, there's a lot to find for you. The eighth album contains eight songs, that can also be a bauble on the eight natural notes of an octave. More of the background theories about Octavarium are featured on this page.

Viewed with a little distance, I still say that Octavarium is one of the best Dream Theater albums ever, even when there's no continious note and solo sheeling. James LaBrie does the greatest job, since a long time and he really makes the album so big. I discount 0.5 points, because the last track is really to long and the first eleven minutes had to be shortened. Finally, I rate it with 4.5 of 5 points.

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  1. Majo wrote at 25/10/07 - 13:54:24
    ok, hab grade was festgestellt:

    Erst hören dann lesen. (Smiley: wink)
  2. Philipp Söhnlein (Website) wrote at 25/10/07 - 15:03:36
    Wie meinen?
  3. Majo wrote at 25/10/07 - 16:36:47
    her mit der CD!
  4. Grimmy wrote at 04/04/09 - 00:28:05
    A bit late to reply to your post but I recently listened to the Octavarium album and I have to say I felt exactly the same way you did when the Octavarium track ended. Good review, I identified myself with it.
  5. pandora bracelet (Website) wrote at 28/09/10 - 05:43:52
    Erst hören dann lesen. strong>pandora beads
  6. Karl wrote at 25/09/12 - 18:56:30
    Gute Rezesio. Wenn auch Vielleicht die Texte etwas mehr hätten sollen. Trotzdem Danke.

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