Sound — 8
Here we are back to the coveted and idolized band that is Dream Theater, progressive metal's bastion of light (and in ToT's case, dark) and preservers of the genre. On to the songs: 01. The Root Of All Evil - a great metalish song with a catchy hook and some great guitarwork by Sir Petrucci. It starts with the piano note played at the end of Train of Thought, and then proceeds into a very Pink Floyd-ish synth bit, but when the song picks up, it's pure Dream Theater and there's no mistaking it. This song continues with Portnoy's mini-saga involving his alcohol abuse, started with The Glass Prison and This Dying Soul, and features some nifty keyboard work by Rudess. 02. The Answer Lies Within - personally, I love this song. It showcases Labrie's excellent vocal talent and the band's music-writing abilities, plus the lyrics are great too. I enjoy it a lot when DT does these kinds of songs, I always have and always have. A great slow song, what more can I say? 03. These Walls - another brilliant metal song that starts with Petrucci playing his trusty 7-string guitar with Rudess providing some fill parts. Very nice sounding, and has a great chorus melody. Another good song on this album. 04. I Walk Beside You - within the first 20 seconds of this song I thought to myself, "wow, they're starting to copy other bands' styles." Coldplay and U2 come immediately to mind, while Delirious is another band that this song sounds identical to. Probably the least-good song on the album. 05. Panic Attack - hooray for Johnny Myung and his bass intro! This is the 3rd-best song on the album for me, featuring complex riffs on all instruments, some strange but fascinating vocal effects from Labrie and Petrucci. Has all the traditional Dream Theater musical mastery you would expect of the virtuosos and doesn't disappoint. 06. Never Enough - I know it's been mentioned already, but this is definitely a Muse-y sounding song. This isnt a problem however, since Muse is one of the best bands on the planet! It also continues with Portnoy's alcohol abuse story, and is the second least-good song on the album, whatever that meant. 07. Sacrificed Sons - first of all, let me say wow to this song. I love it. I love it so much. It's great music, plus it adds something for me to think about, which I absolutely LOVE in any music. It's about the whole 9/11 / terrorism issue that the world is dealing with today, and starts with some nifty voice clips from various news networks that covered the 911 tragedy and sounds absolutely pro! However, it simply doesn't match up to the awesomeness that is. 08. Octavarium - the incredible title track. This is the first song, along with Sacrificed Sons, in DT history to have a full orchestra backing the band up so it sounds stunning. All of the 24 minutes of it is pure excellence--it really couldnt be better. A perfect way to end an album. It's such a great intro, with the slide guitar. It's trippy as anything (which is a plus, teehee) you've ever heard, and the whole song is so pro it's not even funny. They do neat things in this song too, like having bits and pieces from other songs playing underneath the main song and having lyrics from other songs and even movies in it. It finally ends with an amazing solo from Petrucci with the orchestra in full swing. Simply incredible. While all the songs are good, and some great, it's definitely not DT's best work so it only gets an 8. By any other standards, its one of the best albums of the year that I've heard, but by DT standards it's, well, there's better.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics were well-done, particularly in Sacrificed Sons and Octavarium. While nothing overly impressive by the group, they still do match nicely with all the music itself and is appropriate where it should be. Very well done, and credit John Petrucci for not only playing some outstanding guitar but also writing most of the lyrics to the songs.
Overall Impression — 10
Debuting in late 2005, Octavarium is the band's 8th studio release, and they cleverly play on the whole theme of the number Eight; for example, there is a similarity to the musical Octave: Root, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, Octave - and the title of the first track is "The Root of All Evil", and the 8th track goes by the name of "Octavarium". Some people theorized that the title came from Latin words meaning "Various Eight", since it has eight tracks and the band has said that the eight songs on the record are all of different styles. Every song of the album is in a different minor key, starting with F, then G, A, B, C, D, E, and returning to F--one whole scale of music. Other people have made observations about the recurrances of 5's and 8's in the album art. The name Octavarium itself has 5 syllables, while connotating 8. The use of 5's and 8's stems from the number of natural notes (white keys on a piano) and accidentals (sharp/flat keys) in an octave. On the cover, there are eight pendulums which have five birds in between them, and the birds are arranged in the same pattern as piano keys (with the black birds representing flats and sharps and the balls of the pendulum representing the natural notes), on the spine of the album there are piano keys in an octave, the dominoes add up to five and eight, the octopus has eight legs and there are five fish around it, the stop sign has eight sides, the spider has eight legs and is inside an octagon which has eight sides and five "layers." Also, the maze itself has 8 doorways amongst the layers. All in all, whoever designed the album art is a friggin genius, and the music isn't too bad either. I like all the songs on the album, and I absolutely love the last two songs. I love that it's different, I love that nothing on it sounds the same, I love that it's just plain Dream theater! Overall, the music is excellent, the album art is excellenter, and the album as an album is excellentest. I would buy this album again and again if I lost it, and I recommend you should too!