By Ken Clarke
It’s a shame such a talented group of virtuosic musicians are trapped in a ’70s time warp. This unfortunate affliction dominates Dream Theater’s arrangements and overwhelms what should otherwise be a progressively innovative band.
Celebrating their 20th year together with the release of Octavarium, Dream Theater’s technical playing is at times second to none. James LaBrie’s vocal range is impressive, but leads the group down a backwards spiral towards a cross between a modern day version of Styx and Uriah Heep.
The state of the art production does bolster the album’s case, providing a needed adhesive between the questionable compositions and superior musicianship but in the end isn’t enough.
There are, however, some fine moments on Octavarium such as the 24 minute epic title track complete with orchestra and some wonderful John Petrucci guitar chops. These musical oasises aren’t enough to rescue Octavarium from the retro-pit they’ve happily dug for themselves.
Oh, the potential…