Friday, January 18, 2013

Dream Theater - Octavarium (2005)

Man, Dream Theater did really take the album order  seriously into their last albums. Their sixth album was "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" (contained six songs and has six in the title) and "Train of Thought" was the seventh album (seven tracks). That leads us to "Octavarium", Dream Theaters eigth album. And were do we find the number eigth on this album? Well, were should I start? The number of tracks is eight, octa means eight, there are a total of eight marbles on the albums front and back side and more connections to the number eigth is shown in most of the songs (do not worry, I will tell when we come to the songs I am speaking of). One thing that separates "Octavarium" from its two predecessors is that the band now tried to make "a classic Dream Theater" record. So gone is the heaviness from "Train of Thought" and the complexity from "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence". It would be an album that would remind us of their earlier years.

"The Root of All Evil" kicks off this album and you can instantly hear that classic Dream Theater sound. It is melodic and well composed but it also contain a dark vein in both the music and lyrics that is really interesting to follow. A good way to start of a new album. Next song is "The Answer Lies Within", a ballad that is not innovative nor impressive. The lyrics are good but it only takes you so far. The only interesting with this song is the bell at the beginning that tolls eight times. Luckily my interest is regained on "These Walls", the highlight of "Octavarium" It is an epic song that is glistening with its musicality and delicate fragility. It may not be the hardest the band has ever put out on the market but it is one of their more thought-out tracks. Then we also have "I Walk Beside You", or what I would like to call, "Dream Theater's attempt to copy U2, Coldplay or similar band". Not a bad try but it just feels wierd. Way too commercial for my tasting.

Out of all the tracks on "Octavarium" there is only one song that I knew from first to last beat and that was "Panic Attack", and that is only because it is on Rock Band 2 (a great game for gaming and rock geeks). It is  technically a great song and I like the scary mood that the band is setting up but easily the best part is the instrumental part were every band member (except James LaBrie) + instruments get a chance to go close to ape shit. One of the best instrumental parts of the bands entire career. Still wished though that the keyboard would have gotten a little more room on that part or at the ending where the band is repeating the same final note a total of eight times at the end. After that horror show we are led into "Never Enough", a song I have split opinions on. I like the chorus, the build up á la Muse and LaBrie's vocal work but the overall performance feel a little sloppy, like the band is saving up for the big finale.

So far has "Octavarium" been free from mastodon songs but then, with out a mastodon there would simply not be a true Dream Theater album. That thirst is put out on the last two tracks "Sacrificed Sons" (clocked at 10:44) and the title track (clocked at a whooping 23:59). Both are definitely listenable but not something you would press replay for over and over again. They both have a really slow start before shifting to about third gear and starting what Dream Theater is best at. Progressive and technical music with a clear idea all the way through. Not the best songs in this league but certainly not the worst either.

A lot of eight's on this release so it would be fitting if I put an eight as rating right? Sadly, "Octavarium" does not deserve that high of a rating. It is a good album, no doubt about that, but I feel that the distance between top and bottom is way to big for a band like Dream Theater. And even though the lyrics are great I find the concept on this album highly confusing and hazy. None the less this is a album that could have gotten some extra improvements but it is still a good and listenable album. It is just not an album that stands out in the bands catalogue.

Songs worthy of recognition: These Walls, Panic Attack, The Root of All Evil

Rating: 7/10 Sacrificed Sons

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