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After the severely bashed Train Of Thought album (I actually enjoyed it myself) this album is the most important album Dream Theater have had to put out there since Scenes From A Memory which saw a new keyboardist in tow.
The Root Of All Evil - The next part of the Mike Portnoy AA saga. A good rocker to start the proceedings with John Petrucci and James LaBrie standing out in particular. The only downfall being that as far as the music is concerned this song does not match up to that of The Glass Prison and This Dying Soul however, I feel that the lyrics for this song were much better written than the other two. Give it time, it grows on you.
The Answer Lies Within - Some nice poignant lyrics written by John Petrucci but this will be everybody's least favourite track on the album simply because of one thing - it's bland. The music does not match up the lyrics. I think Petrucci wanted something similar to the outstanding Disappear on the Six Degrees album but it just does not work.
These Walls - And there it is! The first absolute gem coming from this album. This song for me is completely flawless, great lyrics, great musicianship, Jordan's keyboard work during the chorus is of an excellent standard and James is singing on sheer top form. Amazing song.
I Walk Beside You - Most people will instantly label this with U2 but I feel there is more of a Coldplay influence in there (Coldplay also released their new album on the 6th of June along with Octavarium over here! Conspiracies a-plenty! :p). I actually really like this song but the fact it comes straight after a song as strong as These Walls makes it seem somewhat out of place.
Panic Attack - Some immense riffage starts this one off. This is another gem in this album with the band rocking out Train Of Thought style BUT (and this includes These Walls) they know the boundaries with the heaviness this time.
Never Enough - Muse, Muse, Muse, Muse, Muse. It's all you hear which is fine but if you actually look at who wrote the thing then you'd see the name "Mike Portnoy" who also stated at the beginning of the year that he thought Muse's "Absolution" is the best album released since the year 2000 onwards. Therefore it would be a tad understandable if there was a Muse influence present. This is NOT a rip-off, the band have been accused of this many times, it's getting old guys, give it a rest eh? As for the song itself, it's actually quite good and given a chance it's actually one of the better listens on the album.
Sacrificed Sons - Before I review this song, there also is plenty of people on the bands website saying writing about 9/11 is just old now. If they actually READ the lyrics then you'd notice that 9/11 is only used as a reference in a song written about terrorism. This is James proving that he can indeed write some great stuff (Blind Faith and Disappear prove this point) with some moody keyboards supplied by Jordan. Very epic and more importantly, extremely good.
Octavarium - This is it. The epic. This song is worth buying the album for alone. Clocking in at a gargantuan 24 minutes exactly (multiply 8 by 3 and you get 24, spooky eh? :p). There's something altogether extremely sequential about this song. The very last lines being 'This story ends where it began?' and then the opening moments of the album actually being the closing moment also. What does this signify?
All in all, this album is extremely solid and up there with Dream Theater have responded to their criticism extremely well as they did with Scenes From A Memory. If you are a keyboard and vocals man then you will have a field day as Jordan and James are the shining stars on this one, which is actually really good as they are normally overshadowed by the three founding members. A special mention has to go to Petrucci though who wrote 4 complete songs and two parts of Octavarium, does Petrucci perhaps feel the strongest about the bands fate?
In terms of the significance of the Octavarium - does this mean Dream Theater will call it a day? This is after all their 8th album and the Octavarium is complete. Does it perhaps mean that Dream Theater are moving on to pastures new? A new style? Also, this is their last album for Atlantic so maybe it means the band is undertaking a new challenge by following the likes of Korn and (ironically enough) John Petrucci by self-releasing their albums? I certainly hope we find out soon, this band is too good to just disappear.