|Dream Theater Octavarium||Atlantic Records|
Review By: Mick Ward|
I wasn't one to shy away from Train of Thought. It was about time for Dream Theater to shake things up and Train of Thought took a dramatic push toward heavy and a number of fans were left wondering what had happened. And considering Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence wasn't brilliant, a return to form and something special was quite rightly expected. But were we prepared for something as special as say Metropolis Part II? Cause that my friends, is what we have here. Another bonafide classic Dream Theater album.
Having said that mind, on a small note - if you are looking to be mentally challenged be prepared for a little disappointment. There is nothing that truly pushes the envelope here. Though not unlike previous DT albums there's nothing too difficult about Octavarium. It stands fast in the progressive genre but for the most part the force feeding of previous outings is absent.
Funnily enough the production is big but the music isn't. No one song towers over the rest of the album and as a whole the songs aren't conceptual but do travel the same road.
The Root of all Evil kicks Octavarium into a mid gear akin to New Millennium and thrives on its simplicity. There's no stop start as such but the typical change for the hell of it is definitely working well here. But check out the 5 minute mark where they guys briefly copy themselves with the 'I can feel my body shaking' music and all (from first track off Train of Thought if I remember right!?). Obviously there's good reason for this but I found it strange.
Sounds awesome but 'Answers required please!' Regardless, 8 minutes plus is over well before you know it and what a ride this tune turned out to be. Following track The Answer Lies Within kind of stinks for being so slow so soon on the album, a ballad that on one hand annoys me for that very reason whilst keeping me damn interested on the other cause to be honest these lyrics are sharp and the song is flat out good.
Track three, These Walls is smooth sailing playing with both rock and calm, its bridge very Images and Words, piano and guitar sharing the spotlight 'pending on what section you refer to. There's no meddling with time here, These Walls being strong enough to stand on its own merits much like I Walk Beside You which follows in similarly structured manner. I Walk Beside You is annoyingly pop much like U2, but at the same time wonderful. Brilliant even. DT have done this kinda thing before but perhaps not so overtly. I Walk Beside You is embarrassingly good!
Panic Attack brings back the Train of Thought approach but has one difference. It's better than anything of that album. Being the metal head I am Panic Attacks' thundering for want of a better word 'attack' was very refreshing. This is my album favorite due simply to its no holds bared approach. Everything I could want from heavy Dream Theater is here, dark nasty and fast as lightening, love the bass intro! The sheer joy of this song never fails me regardless of the mass volume of air time it's had at my home! Perfect!
Wanting to leave a few surprises, all I'll say regarding the remaining three songs is that they're mostly up to speed with the earlier part of the album, a tad slow on a few occasions and not my favorite side if I were referring to the good old days of vinyl, but still balances the album well enough. There's even a direct stab at the whole 9/11 thing which is interesting and entertaining enough considering its delicate subject matter has so many varying emotions it's sure to work for some whilst not others. Good work!
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