Sound — 9
Wow, this album is amazing! This is obviously Dream Theater's most progressive and experimental album yet, and is the follow-up to their heaviest album to date. The title track is one of the best songs ever recorded by the band, and is one of my top three personal favorites. For the first four tracks, the album alternates between heavy and light songs. The final two tracks take up about 35 minutes of this album. In my opinion, this is also James LaBrie at his finest. His voice is the most understandable here. If you want someone who's never heard of DT before to have a listen, play them this album. They will probably like the instrumentalist's skills, and they won't be turned off by the vocalist's voice.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are pretty well written. The lyrics flow fairly well with the songs. On the title track there are a few spots where they don't, but it's no big deal. James LaBrie is pretty much at his finest on this album. Here's the tracklisting, with a short explanation of each song: 01. The Root Of All Evil - very cool album opener, starts with the same note that "In the Name of God" ended with on the previous album, Train of Thought. The intro is sort of ominous, and then kicks into an awesome riff. Some great solos and unisons by Jordan Rudess and John Petrucci. Part III of Mike Portnoy's Alcoholics Anonymous Suite. It's a fun song to actually learn and play on guitar, also. 02. The Answer Lies Within - I'm not sure why people don't really like this song, I think it's pretty good. It's pretty mellow, and doesn't really have a guitar solo. It's a pretty song nonetheless. 03. These Walls - this awesome song has some beyond heavy riffs in it. The guitar solo is kind of a letdown, though. 04. I Walk Beside You - this song is kind of a U2-style song. No real guitar solo here, mostly just riffs. It's nothing special. 05. Panic Attack - godly heaviness, amazing solos. All I can say is that this song is awesome! 06. Never Enough - another freaking heavy song, great solos again. 07. Sacrificed Sons - an awesome political song, talks about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some great solos by John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess. One of my favorites from this album. Almost eleven minutes long. DT is accompanied by an orchestra here. 8. Octavarium: One of my top three favorite DT songs of all time. Twenty-four minutes long exactly. Incredible solos and unisons by John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess. The final note of Petrucci's ending solo will give any DT fan goosebumps. DT gets accompanied by an orchestra on this song. Best song on the album, in my opinion. Ends with the same note that "The Root of All Evil" began with.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, this is one of DT's top albums (in my opinion). "The Root of All Evil", "Panic Attack", "Sacrificed Sons", and the title track are the most impressive songs from this album. I like how DT employs an orchestra for the final two songs from this album. If it were to be stolen, I would immediately buy it again. This is an absolute must-have for any DT fan.