Monday, February 11, 2013

Dream Theater - Octavarium (2005)

Artist: Dream Theater

Album: Octavarium

Genre: Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal
Released: June 7, 2005

Track Listing

  1. The Root of All Evil (8:25)
  2. The Answer Lies Within (5:33)
  3. These Walls (7:36)
  4. I Walk Beside You (4:29)
  5. Panic Attack (8:13)
  6. Never Enough (6:46)
  7. Sacrificed Sons (10:42)
  8. Octavarium (24:00)

Available on Spotify

Dream Theater is one of those bands that I adore. They have gone through some lineup changes in recent years, but they have always been one of the most prominent progressive rock bands in the world. An interesting tidbit about the construction of the Octavarium album is the key structure for the songs.

Music theory time. An octave is the interval between two pitches. So on a piano you'd have 8 naturals (white keys) and 5 accidentals (black keys). 

A-A#-B-C-C#-D-D#-E-F-F#-G-G#-A (higher octave) For example.

In addition to this, Octavarium would be Dream Theater's eighth studio album coming just after the release of their fifth live album. So taking this into account they decided to construct each song on the album in a different key.

So off we go into the track breakdown, the last one will take a while at 24 minutes. (:


Track 1: The Root of All Evil (8:25)

We start with a single low piano note followed by some shifty sound effects. Get a little guitar strum here and there with a few drum hits as the weird sound effects continue. Drum picks up prominence as electric guitar is added. Then it breaks into the first main riff at about 1:00.

At 1:28 James LaBrie enters with his vocals as we continue that solid guitar and drum rhythm. There's this creepy sound effect riding in the background as these verse riffs continue.

3:01 my favorite part of the song. We get a more gentle drum beat with the guitar riding forward as the vocals swell into a sort of echo effect. Petrucci follows up with some wah effect added. The song breaks back into that first riff around 3:49.

5:18 we break into a little instrumental part. Petrucci and keyboards go insane for a few moments before the keyboard goes into a little solo effect run. 6:00 a little guitar solo comes on board.

6:26 it returns to my favorite part with the driving drum beat and the nice vocal part. 6:51 the wah guitar adds in along with the vocals. 7:48 it quiets down into a soft piano line which leads the song out towards the next song.

Track 2: The Answer Lies Within (5:33)

This track starts very softly with a little bird chirping in the background a church bell soon adds. It leads into a gentle piano line preceding LaBrie's vocals. Much of this song is dominated by LaBrie and this piano line.

1:22 a clean guitar strum joins in along with a light orchestra string line. We still have that piano running in the background with LaBrie. This is one of the more mellow songs on the album.

2:28 we get a stronger more distorted guitar, but it's still held back and calm. Vocal swell around 3:25. At 3:37 the vocals drop out and a soft orchestral line takes front stage. 4:03 LaBrie reenters with his vocals, that gentle distorted guitar following behind him.

Starting at 4:50 the vocals drop out again and the clean guitar strum, piano, and orchestral line lead us softly out of the song.

Track 3: These Walls (7:36)

One of my favorite songs on the album. The drums of Portnoy dominate much of this song. We start the song with a really dirty distorted guitar sound. It shortly kicks into a proper guitar riff and Portnoy busts in at 0:32 with his extraordinary drum work.

This is one of those songs that I am always air drumming. 1:03 we get a lovely hi-hat run on the drum with a clean guitar line in the back. LaBrie enters at 1:18. Portnoy keeps that splendid hi-hat work going throughout the verse.

1:49 the tension begins to rise before exploding into the main chorus line around 2:04. At 2:36 we jump back to that splendid Portnoy hi-hat drum line. 3:21 the song shifts back into that pre-chorus line before jumping into the chorus at 3:37.

4:08 we come to the mid-section of the song. Much of the instrumentation is dominated by Portnoy's driving drum line and a soft piano line in the back. 4:38 we get that hi-hat run along with a gentle guitar solo. 5:08 back into that pre-chorus again. 5:55 that little guitar solo starts up again in the background. 

I love the ending starting at 6:27. We get some splash hits and heavy drum work. A boisterous string line takes center stage with the song being dominated again by Portnoy. The song ends with a heart beat sound and some funky sound effects leading into the next song.

Track 4: I Walk Beside You (4:29)

Another song dominated by Portnoy's drum work. This song starts with a little ticking clock song before Petrucci starts up with a killer guitar riff and Portnoy starts a killer drum beat. 0:21 we get Portnoy's brilliant hi-hat work as LaBrie also enters with his vocals.

This is another song that I air drum. Pre-chorus 0:50 with Portnoy stretching out the drum hits before leading into the main chorus where his drumming sounds very stretchy. Stretchy in that the snare beats tend to fall on the off beats.

We get that lovely hi-hat work of Portnoy again before breaking into the chorus again at 2:26 or so. 2:54 we get a nice vocal break where LaBrie is joined by some extended backing vocals.

Mike Portnoy is easily one of my all time favorite drummers.

The vocals drop out around 4:00 as the instrumentation leads us outward to the next song.

Track 5: Panic Attack (8:13)

One of the more head trippy songs. We start with a killer bass riff, pounding guitar and drum quickly add into the fray. The tempo in this song definitely goes through the roof. This is another of my favorite songs on the album.

LaBrie enters around 0:50. We get this nice drum beat showing off Portnoy's hi-hat prowess. 1:27 we get this nice tempo break as things kind of slow down a little. 1:43 everything comes back in and the tempo still runs at a furious tempo. 2:09 we get that intro riff again with bass, drum, and guitar plowing ahead.

2:32 we get this great guitar and drum line that add nicely to the vocal line. 2:55 the tension rises. 3:18 we get that gentle break again in the tempo before kicking back in at 3:26.

3:52 we get this vocal change where the vocals take prominence. We still have that driving drum beat in the background with the bass. 4:30 we kick back to that initial heavy drum, guitar, and bass line from the beginning. Here though we start to lead into a instrumental part with the keyboard taking the solo at 4:57. 5:20 we get Petrucci insanely fast picking solo. He loves those rapid pick parts. (: 

5:42 things calm down a little. 6:13 we go back to that chorus line. 6:51 again to that intro riff. The following minute of the song is dominated by that bass, drum, and guitar line until 7:14. The car crashes into the side rail and things mellow down. Queue random sound effects until the end of the track.

Track 6: Never Enough (6:46)

This track starts with some trippy sound effect in the beginning followed quickly by Portnoy and Petrucci. The initial guitar riff to this song is pretty wicked. 0:30 we get LaBrie entering as the guitar backs off a little. Portnoy's drums are really restrained in the song. 

1:15 we get a chorus like line. With the guitar dragging out the tempo. 1:56 we get that killer guitar riff again from the beginning. 2:04 we get a sort of verse line with a brilliant drum part. Petrucci follows the vocals in the background with much of how his beloved rapid picking. 

2:48 we stretch out again as the tempo mellows down. The vocals take center stage. 3:31 trippy sound effects. 3:45 guitar soloesque line enters really taking shape at 4:15. Petrucci goes into his insane speed mode again here. 4:45 we break out into a more gentle sound.

5:15 LaBrie reenters. We get that mellow stretched tempo. 5:56 we get that intial guitar riff again with the drum continuing to drive in the background. 6:15 things break down into weird sound effects. This slowly drops in volume leading into a foreign language towards the end of the track which leads us into the next track.

Track 7: Sacrificed Sons (10:42)

This song starts with a foreign language rambling in the background followed by news clips being overlaid on top. This song feels the most politically charged. 0:57 we get a solo piano line, very soft followed by a gentle drum beat. 1:16 LaBrie enters.

1:55 a soft string line joins LaBrie as his vocals soften. 2:16 vocals drop out as we get some trippy sound doing a bit of a melody. 2:35 LaBrie reenters with a more aggressive guitar line restrained in the background.

2:57 we get a chorus line dominated by LaBrie's vocals. 3:35 we get that trippy melody line. 

4:13 get this really dirty bass line. A wicked guitar riff adds on top. The drum line drills onward in the back. This part is dominated by the instruments. 5:04 trippy keyboard solo line. 5:46 the guitar starts revving up. The guitar really starts around 6:02 with the solo line.
6:25 things calm a little bit as we get a very gentle melody line here. 7:01 we get the guitar taking charge. LaBrie comes back in around 7:50. Chorus again around 8:25. The song is dominated by LaBrie and that trippy melody line. 9:31 the instruments take over again as the vocals drop out. The end of the song drives to the finish with the guitar and strings before dropping out completely.

Track 8: Octavarium (24:00)

Title track of the album. Also the longest. Really, you could probably break this song into several distinct sections. These are not "official" sections to the song, just the ones that I felt like pointing out.

Section 1 (0:00 - 3:47)

The song enters with a very soft line which is dominated by the keyboard. Much of the beginning of the song runs through this trippy keyboard section. This is one of the more mellow parts of the song. Very ambient sounding.

Section 2 (3:47 - 8:46)

Portnoy takes charge here drilling in with some nice drum springing in on the splash. 4:22 we get a gentle clean guitar strum. A soft wind instrument drives the melody line here. 5:16 a more straight forward guitar arpeggio line. 5:32 LaBrie enters with his vocals. We get a gentle piano line along with the vocals as well.

7:58 things pick up as the guitar becomes more pronounced and the vocals swell. Portnoy continues driving in the back with his drum line. 

Section 3 (8:46 - 12:15)

This section begins dominated by the drum and bass. This is one of my favorite parts of the song. We get a nice piano line going in the back as well. 9:17 LaBrie enters with his vocals. We still have that great bass line and drum running in the background. 9:28 nice little drum hi-hat fill. 

10:39 we get that drum and bass line from earlier in this section.

Section 4 (12:15 - 13:49)

The keyboard breaks in here with the drum and keyboard dominating the line. This is my favorite drum part of the song. Portnoy really goes to town here. 

Section 5 (13:49 - 16:00)

The guitar reenters with a vengeance here. Portnoy continues driving a brilliant drum part in the back as LaBrie comes back in on vocals. 14:27 one of my favorite parts we get back and forth vocals with Portnoy pounding the splash cymbals. 

15:07 nice little drum hi-hat fill again. This part is really dominated strongly by Portnoy's brilliant drum work. 15:40 LaBrie drops out and the sound is dominated by Portnoy, Petrucci, and a trippy line in the background.

Section 6 (16:00 - 18:28)

The guitar and keyboard take over here before Portnoy joins in the crowd. The guitar riff drives the tension forward until 16:28 when it breaks into this sort of cyclical sounding riff. 16:47 guitar soloesque part. 16:57 the keyboard joins the guitar in a really rapid fire riff. 

17:51 we get this nice little clean guitar melody run before things break back into the distortion. 18:07 we lead into a more driving guitar riff before falling back into that rapid run at 18:18.

Section 7 (18:28 - 20:00)

Things mellow a bit here. LaBrie reenters with his vocals. The sound is dominated by LaBrie, Petrucci, and Portnoy's drumming. 19:32 vocal swell.

Section 8 (20:00 - 24:00)

Things mellow again as we enter a more orchestral sounding part. 20:38 LaBrie comes in on vocals again. That string line continues strongly in the background. 21:28 guitar solo. 23:15 or so things start drawing to a close. The sound really calms down and drops to almost nothing around 23:40 where we just have this single piano note as trippy sound effects come back in again. These lead out the track.

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