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Octavarium. The 8th album from Dream Theater. I understand that the old sound is gone, where some dont. I understand that they rock out a lot more as well. I understand they have chosen to stay with The Glass Prison-esque production sound for a while. I understand they are not as progressive as they once were (although if you think about it, they've progressively gotten less progressive haha)
What I dont understand is how they made such a great album to follow Train of Thought, which was good because they made a 'heavy' album, they needed to. But to move on from that is just great. Another TOT wouldve sounded monotonous. One thing that makes this album stick out from the rest is the useage of dark elements in the music.
The music here is very diverse also. There's the rock out song in The Root of All Evil, which also follows the AA series of Mike Portnoy. Although the chorus is very melodic and insanely dark.
After a portion of the 2nd passage of the title song, the song moves to the ballad The Answer Lies Within. I was bummed when I first heard it because it just followed a great uptempo song. But the song itself is great, it has grown on me. Mostly piano and James.
These Walls is great. After I almost stopped the CD when I heard Korn type of riffing, the song exploded into what I like to hear from DT. The atmosphere is amazing. This atmosphere of being in a dimension of 0G's with stuff floating around. Very memorable.
I Walk Beside You sucks because it is Dream Theater. I Walk Beside You is the next #1 hit because it's U2.
Panic Attack is where the band held onto their TOT style for a song. Except I think this song would blow anything on TOT out of the water. It's so heavy and fast, very unlike most DT songs. James' falsetto use is amazing as well, wish he used it more in this song.
Never Enough is Muse, yes, but I like this song because the chorus just kicks so much ass. Very melodic and dark.
Sacraficed Sons is where the epic part of the album begins. It deals with 9-11, but the focus is really on the music more. When you consider the big instrumental break, you kinda forget what the song is about. Speaking of the instrumental break, Dream Theater, meet Megadeth ala Rust in Peace. Thats what it sounds like (coincidence theyre touring together?) Then they move to probably the best riff on the album. The one thats mixed with the orchestra and a whole shitload of pinch harmonics. Back to the chorus and one more time with the best riff and you have a great epic.
Speaking of great epics, a greater one follows. It is the title track. this 24 minute monster is magnificent. There are 5 passages with lyrics and i believe 8 all together. Makes sense with what Romulus141 mentioned about the 5:8 connection with this album.
The first passage is the darkest section of the entire album. Starts with effects ala Pink Floyd, explodes, then moves to really dark acoustics with flute. James' singing has never been better. The focus is mainly James and Petrucci's acoustic.
The second passage begins with Myung with a great bassline which flows through most of the passage. Melodies from this passage are heard throughout the album by the way. The 'chorus' of this passage is just so beautifully projected.
Passage 3 begins the pickup of the song. It is one of the 3 non-lyrical passages. A nice keyboard line that really caught my ear when I first heard it. The rest of the band just begins rockin out for a while.
After that, it moves to the 4th passage which is the full circle section. James' vocal line follows the keyboard for a while. Another 'chorus' type part here which is really memorable as well.
The fifth passage (again more irony, being the fifth) is the 'prog' section if you will. This is where Petrucci, where he held back on leads and wankery on most of the album, finally gets his chance to fucking let loose and create one of the most maddening sections of a song I've ever heard from a DT song. There are moments where parts of other songs from past albums are used for a second. Finally, the song becomes so chaotic, you can't believe it's the same song as the first 2 passages. From insane solos, to a part of Jingle Bells, to some Spanish guitar work for like, 7 seconds, this section is the most fun.
The 6th passage the climax. It's chaotic much like the 5th, but with lyrics. This time, James gets to let loose, except he hasnt held back this album, he's held back for the past 4 albums. A final scream is held out while screaming "trapped inside this octavarium!"
The 7th and 8th passages are similar. They feature the orchestra but the 7th is with lyrics and a bit darker.
The 8th is instrumental and is the falling action of the song. I find this to be the masterpiece section and is so epic and chilling. I get chills everytime i hear this part. Being a classical fan myself, I enjoy the final notes with the whole orchestra, like the french horn thing at the end. The orchestra sounds like one youd hear in the 50's or something. Unbelieveable song and unbelieveable album.
Points off for I Walk Beside You. This is essential DT, no matter what anyone else says.