Dream Theater still manages to skirt
the edges of both metal and prog rock by combing the two to
create their own unique sound. While not their best album
“Octavarium” has its moments typically though they tend to
be in the shorter songs that aren’t bogged down by the band’s
attempt to show off their musical muscle. The band’s latest
album brims with references to the exploits of Pink Floyd
and Rush but with the band’s harder edged sound they recall
more often than not the bizarre mating of Metallica and 70’s
era King Crimson. Interestingly enough Crimson has adopted
a sound that recalls Dream Theater and other bands of the
prog metal movement on their latest two releases. ***
From the Floyd like cover of “Octavarium”
its clear which band this album was most influenced by. While
musically adept the lyrics still tend more towards the clichéd
darker edges that is inhabited by bands in the metal genre.
Fans will find much to cheer about with “Octavarium” the album
and the title track itself. While it rambles on for 24 minutes
there are so many landscapes created by their musical heroes
that it almost becomes a rock primer for the 21st century.
Most of the stand out tracks are the shorter pieces such as
“The Answer Lies Within” and “I Walk Beside You” which are
more direct, succinct and punchier than some of the other
epic jams that has characterized the band’s other albums.
The playing is, as usual top notch and the production highlights
the playing of John etrucci guitar playing. James LaBrie’s
vocals on tracks such as “Never Enough” aren’t as up front
as they could be and continue to compete with the other instruments
for attention on some of the epic work outs from the album.
Final Words: ”Octavarium” is a memorable
enough outing from the band and the introduction of shorter
songs allows the band to focus on developing their song craft
vs. developing long instrumental passages that lead to nowhere.
Lyrically the band could use a bit of help. While the melodies
are frequently memorable they lack the lyrical bite and innovation
necessary to jump beyond the clichés of the metal genre. It’s
a solid outing headed in the right direction that will still
appeal to much of their core audience.