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Dream Theater Octavarium Review (ulalume)

By Edited Dec 8, 2013 1 1

Dream Theater Octavarium album cover


-Expertly played instruments
-Technical compositions are seamlessly blended with simplicity, high tempos with slow tempos.
-Dream Theater never sacrifices atmosphere for technicality.
-Orchestration on some tracks are great.
-"Octavarium" alone is worth the price of this album. In truth, many pop albums run at about the same length at this individual song.
-This song is accessible by virtually anyone. There are slow acoustic moments, awsome heavy metal moments, and even some glimpses at more simplistic, contemporary compositions. It is a great blend of musical styles.


-Some songs (specifically the first 3) are relatively boring in comparison to the others on this album.
-Some of the lyrics are kind of poorly written. They're not excruciatingly bad like "I kissed a girl and I liked it", but they just kind of take away from the feeling provided in the technical composition.

Full Review

Dream Theater is a relatively well known progressive metal/rock act, who has gained even more attention do to the usage of there song "Pull Me Under" in the Guitar Hero video game series, as well as the song "Panic Attack" in Rock Band (which is available on this album, to add).

For me, the appeal of Dream Theater lies in their intricate compositions and the vocal stylings of James LaBrie. Whenever bands spring up in their mainstream appeal, I have the tendency to be put off. Fortunately for Dream Theater, they have built up their reputation for churning out great progressive rock music; that there is no denying that they deserve their place in the mainstreams awareness.

I had received Octavarium for Christmas in 2007. Unlike my typical listening pleasure in the realm of black/death metal, Dream Theater was rather unique to me. As a musician I enjoy hearing complex and technical riffs played appropriately, with feeling and style. So many bands sacrifice melody and enjoyable listening for lighting fast riffs with no real purpose. On many occasions, Dream Theater slows down their songs and focus on the atmosphere more than anything. That is not to say speed and technicality is not available on this album, but it is weaved in and out like a finely stitched blanket or piece of clothing.

The album opens with the song "The Root of All Evil", which is enjoyable to say the least; but not overly memorable. In truth, that is the problem that really ways down this release. The songs are acceptable, but not really any thing I can truly remember (except for a few notable exceptions). In addition, many of the lyrics are too corny for my liking.

Putting those flaws aside, there are definitley standout tracks. "I Walk Beside You" is an almost contemporary outing, with a basic song structure (verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge). It would be very fitting as a radio tune, even potentially on a Christian music station as some of the members claim to be Catholics (and through that, I am able to correlate that some of these lyrics; specifically in this song, were written from that Christian viewpoint).

The next song, "Panic Attack", is also easily a standout track. It is hard to avoid mentioning this song due to its usage in a video game, however that point only seals its place in history as an enjoyable and accessible song. The technicality of the riffs are very enjoyable, and on many occasions feel like a blend of melodic power metal, death metal, and the popular band Muse. I have always found that last aspect to be strange, the similarities in composition (and occasionally in vocal stylings) are very similar. An even better example of that similarity is found on the following track, "Never Enough."

Next is "Sacrificed Sons", a tribute song to the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers; as well as a tribute military members who are combating terrorism selflessly in Iraq and Afganistan.

In Closing

While I may have some complaints regarding this album, I still feel it is a very solid release. Dream Theater is always putting out great music, regardless of occasionally sub-par material. You can see how much effort they put into this record just by examining the song "Octavarium." It is just perfect by all means. This album is worthy of a buy, or minimally worthy of downloading a few tracks off of iTunes. I would suggest looking up some songs on Youtube or Myspace, and formulating your opinion based off the tracks instead of just by humble opinion.


Sep 13, 2009 12:54pm
....LOL....."They're not excruciatingly bad like "I kissed a girl and I liked it", but they just kind of take away from the feeling provided in the technical composition....." :)
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