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Thread: This is how smart Dream Theater's Octavarium is

  1. #1
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    This is how smart Dream Theater's Octavarium is

    Did you know that the Root of All Evil starts on the key of F minor, the next song is in Gminor,etc and the song Octavarium ends back to the "root of it all"? Smart...Read on.


    From Progarchives.com, a review made by a guy named Adam:

    For some reason this site seems to be infested with people that are not too fond of Dream Theater. And I know everyone is sick of hearing Dream Theater this and Dream Theater that. But I couldn't help but review this album after finding many statements on Dream Theater's lyrics not being up to par and many people stating that the lyrics to Octavarium are "no concept" or "8 this 8 that, its not that deep." Well I'm here to tell you that Octavarium has much more meaning that many people (even fans) know, so let me explain my interpretation.

    This is more of an interpretation than an album review of the music. It is more of a review of the lyrics and the concepts behind the album.

    Obviously if you do have the CD you have seen the figure of the octavarium. This paragraph will just be an observation of the different clues. The 8-sided figure with the 5-sided star enclosed inside it. You also have seen the many pictures with the 8 figures of one object and the five of another (the fish and the octopus, the spiders and the levels of the maze, the dominoes, the keys in the back, 8 white, 5 black, the side of the album 8 white blocks, 5 white, the eight ball, the eight swinging balls on the front cover with the five birds, ect.) Also note that there are 8 tracks, this is their 8th studio album (excluding A Change of Seasons EP) and there is 5 parts to the title track "Octavarium." Now "Who Cares?" 8, 5, blah blah, this surely has little meaning. That statement will easily be proven wrong at the conclusion of this analysis.

    If you notice each song describes a certain fault in a human being, or displays a fault in a certain way. For example The Root of all Evil shows the fault of alcohol or any drug addiction, the Answer lies within shows insecurity within oneself, These Walls shows the lack of confidence of an individual, I walk beside you shows total dependence on another, ect. I am trying to make this relatively short (though its hard due to its complexity) so you can figure out the morals to the other songs.

    If you also notice each song has a certain time signature above the lyrics (1/8, 2/8, 3/8...) The figure of the octavarium also has that time signature correlated to one of the eight corners. This is to show that each corner of the eight sided octavarium represents a fault in a human in today's society. Each corner is a downfall in the moral of the average human being.

    The five sided star represents five different good moral qualities that are normally absent when it comes to todays society. My own interpretation of the five good moral qualities are stated in "Octavarium" when it is said "Loyalty, Trust, Faith, and Desire, carries Love through each darkest fire." Love being the main of the five qualities while the other four are needed to carry the fifth.

    Dream Theater is saying that there are not many people that give respect to good moral value any more in todays society. They are stating that they live with a high regard to moral value and being good, respectable people, and they believe that they are trapped in a world (octavarium) where the other eight values are much more present than the main five that we should be cherishing. It is displayed absolutely beautifully in this album, my favorite part being "Sacrificed Sons" when they talk about how many people blaimed God for the tragic events of 9/11 instead of realizing that God has no control over war or many tragedies that happen in todays world.

    Lets talk about the smart additions that make this album a true masterpiece. First off, with the time signatures in the album, each song also has a key in the staff above. The keys for the songs go as follows:

    F minor, G minor, A minor, B minor, C minor, D minor, E minor, F minor

    An Octave. The first song or the Root of the octave (and coincidently, of all evil) begins on an F from the piano. The last song or the Octave (coincidently Octavarium) ends on the same note from the piano after the ochestra ends extremely powerfully and emotionally while James screams "Trapped inside this Octavarium" stating that he is trying to persue the good morals, though it is not respected and not as present as it should be. This loop of chords from beginning to end is incredible while reading the final lyrics to "Razors Edge":

    "We move in circles Balanced all the while On a gleaming razor's edge

    A perfect sphere Colliding with our fate This story ends where it began"

    I also want to show the final lyrics to section IV of Octavarium and show how they each reflect the eight faults (look at the parenthesis that I place above for a quick summary of the moral of each song):

    "[Root] Our deadly sins feel his mortal wrath Remove all obstacles from our path

    [Second] Asking questions Search for clues The answer's been right in front of you

    [Third] We try to break through Long to connect Fall on deaf ears with failed muted breath

    [Fourth] Loyalty, trust, faith and desire Carries love through each darkest fire

    [Fifth] Tortured insanity A smothering hell Try to escape but to no avail

    [Sixth] The calls of admirers Who claim they adore Drain all your lifeblood while begging for more

    [Seventh] Innocent victims for merciless crimes Fall prey to some madman's for impulsive designs

    [Octave] Step after step We try controlling our fate When we finally start living it's become to late"

    These lyrics are VERY well written correlating with the other songs on the album. Each paragraph is a summary of each song (the root for root of all evil, the 2nd for the answer lies within, 3rd for these walls ect.) There are also many other small prespectives and morals that I will leave up for interpretation.



    One thing that I had found very interesting was the back cover. The eight white piano keys contain the songs (or the eight faults) while the five black keys contain the five members of the band, showing how they are trying to live by the good morals and are trying to break out of the "octavarium" that plagues this decaying society where morals are almost impossible to find.

    As for the front cover. I have not figured out exactly what it means, or what it is trying to touch base on. If anybody has an idea I would love to know so please post in this forum.

    I just want it to be known that it is always an opinion to whether you like Dream Theater or anything for that matter. But to go out of your way to say that octavarium can't be that deep and it only has to do with a musical octave is very ignorant. The octave in this situation has much, much more of a meaning. Of course I left some up for interpretation as there is a lot more that you can say about this album and it can go much deeper that what I have written. In my opinion this is a progressive masterpiece and it holds up against all the progressive albums that are essential. Regardless to whether you like the way Dream Theater combines the various styles or whether you like James LaBrie's vocals, there is no question that they deserve an incredible amount of respect for both their musicianship and their lyrical concepts.

  2. #2
    I, Galactus oRg's Avatar
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    I've never really been one to get into the concept behind certain albums. Though I have to say this is an interesting read to say nonetheless.
    v2sw3CUhw6ln3pr6OFck3ma9u6Lw3Xm6l6Ui2Ne5t5TSFDAb8T DOen7g6RZATHCMHPa21s6MSr53Dp3hackerkey

  3. #3
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    But why does it matter anyway?

    I'm not a fan of La Bries vocals, bit too Rush Geddy Lee for me. But I am a Petrucci fan, who wouldn't be.

    As for messages and moral values, well if they're trying to convey a positive message to the young people then I'm all with that. however, from a personal point of view I'm proly getting a little too old to worry about some of these issues from a personal point of view and rarley get trapped in side any kind of Octavarium nowadays, which is handy.

    Nice analysis though.

  4. #4
    oh harro;D delicious's Avatar
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    wau that is a very nice analysis, how come i didnt think of that

    im not typically a La Brie fan, but i thought he was awesome in this album especially the screaming bit in octvarium.
    \m/ chunk chunk chunk \m/

  5. #5
    allrounder live's Avatar
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    who cares? ;-) No, serious: very well interpretated but I like lyrics about emotional things more than political or social-critic lyrics which don't belong together with dream theater for me.... but why not?! Didn't hear the album really, just in the background while having guests here!

    live
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    Last edited by live; 03-28-2011 at 12:42 AM.

  6. #6
    Registered User SeattleRuss's Avatar
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    Great analysis!
    It's funny how different people will come up with different interperetations of the same material, as I thought Octavarium was about girls and cars....

    But then again, in my own defense, I haven't quite had the time to properly listen to it backwards......

  7. #7
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    WOW! That's some stuff man. You got me wanting to get that album (and I'm broke... thanks a lot ) It's an excellent analysis of the whole concept thing. I would've been too caught up in the "how the hell am I gonna play this?" to pay attention to that .

    I guess I need to get it simply 'cause I'd like to see how they get to segue between those keys.

    Thanks for a great thread.
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  8. #8
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Very interesting.
    Also itīs interesting to hear how DT always throws in quotes of themselves... like the "I can feel my body breaking..." lines in "Root Of All Evil"... I donīt know if those are the same lyrics, but the same vocal line ( the actual melody ) and I think the same words have occured in another DT song.
    There are quotes all over the place.
    The "albums starts like it began" ainīt a surprise for DT fans, I guess. I think there was one DT album that started with the end of the previous one.
    The lyrics about alcohol... I think thatīs part of a series of lyrics Portnoy started to write about his own alcohol problems in the past. The last few DT albums each had a song with that subject. ( "Glass Prison" for example )
    Those guys put a lot of thought into it ( like the morse code Portnoy played in "In The Name Of God" ), into stories, themes, quotes, and little mind games like the ones the reviewer pointed out.
    Very interesting indeed, and I am sure there are a bunch of guys who love that kinda stuff. ( I read a few very thorough and long essays by fans on the SFAM-story, for example ).
    Eric

  9. #9
    oh harro;D delicious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EricV
    Very interesting.
    Also itīs interesting to hear how DT always throws in quotes of themselves... like the "I can feel my body breaking..." lines in "Root Of All Evil"... I donīt know if those are the same lyrics, but the same vocal line ( the actual melody ) and I think the same words have occured in another DT song.
    There are quotes all over the place.
    The "albums starts like it began" ainīt a surprise for DT fans, I guess. I think there was one DT album that started with the end of the previous one.
    The lyrics about alcohol... I think thatīs part of a series of lyrics Portnoy started to write about his own alcohol problems in the past. The last few DT albums each had a song with that subject. ( "Glass Prison" for example )
    Those guys put a lot of thought into it ( like the morse code Portnoy played in "In The Name Of God" ), into stories, themes, quotes, and little mind games like the ones the reviewer pointed out.
    Very interesting indeed, and I am sure there are a bunch of guys who love that kinda stuff. ( I read a few very thorough and long essays by fans on the SFAM-story, for example ).
    Eric
    root of all evil is the 3rd or 4th (does the mirror count?) in the series of that alcohol addiction thing. theres one part thats common with This Dying Soul but with different lyrics, and in This Dying Soul there was a section thats borrowed from The Glass Prison.
    \m/ chunk chunk chunk \m/

  10. #10
    Registered User Barking Pumpkin's Avatar
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    I've discussed this album extensively already....so I'll condense a little bit in relation to this topic.

    I'll take quality and well-thought out music over the gimmicks in this. I think the fact that you can spend three pages talking about all the little tiny things in relation to the "concept" and the changing key thing while I don't think the music is very inspired says something about where Dream Theater have gone recently. In terms of current "progressive metal," Pain Of Salvation have it, Dream Theater do not.

    And yeah...."The Root Of All Evil" is a third in a series of musicall and lyrically connected songs in relation to Mike Portnoy's dealing with alcoholism. The series covers the steps of the AA program. I can't remember how many steps they've been through so far....something like five I think, but it goes like this:

    1. The Glass Prison
    2. This Dying Soul
    3. The Root Of All Evil
    Last edited by Barking Pumpkin; 07-28-2005 at 08:36 AM.

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    blah blah motherfriggin blah. go read about lateralus. that would be tool's last album, for yall who think prog starts and ends with dt. i mean, everyone and my mom knows about the whole fibbonacci sequence thing, but, yea, its way the heck deeper than anything those assclowns over at dt came up with. btw, the music, in and of itself, any nifty extra crap nonwithstanding, is alot more interesting and meaningful. and carey could mess portnoy up any day, i mean, the guy is tall as ****.

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    I don't think any of that last bit had *anything* to do with music at all - so tool's guy is taller? Yeah, that settles it right there. Never mind that bands like Queensryche, Fates Warning, and DT are the reason guys like Tool can put progressive elements in their music and still be heard - Portnow would lose a fistfight, and that settles that. I like Tool too, but let's see them - hell, *anyone* - do a concept album like Metropolis part II - the only ones that come close over the past few years are In Absentia and The Human Equation. Those are deep. I love Tool, but that's concept album 101 compared to the last three I just named.

    Also, The Mirror/Lie (Lie is sandwiched between The Mirror and ends with a Mirror reprise, so it's a sort of song sandwich) starts the process, but The Glass Prison seems to start the actual process.

    On the topic of the album itself, I had thought of the 8 natural notes/5 accidentals thing in passing, but what stuck out just about now was the tracking on the two discs of 6DOIT - the first disc has five tracks, and the second disc/title track has eight. Probably just coincidence, but what the hell, thought I'd put it out there.

    As to "This Is How Smart They Are", I think the music itself shows how smart they are better than any album art/philosophical insight coincidence - interesting discussion, but maybe an analysis of the music would be more fitting on a music discussion board.

    Rock On,
    The Jeffinator

  13. #13
    Registered User NickGT's Avatar
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    Interesting stuff man...thanks for that read. And does anyone have a link to that SFAM discussion you were talking about? I'd really like to read that, I love that album.

  14. #14
    oh harro;D delicious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickGT
    Interesting stuff man...thanks for that read. And does anyone have a link to that SFAM discussion you were talking about? I'd really like to read that, I love that album.
    www.dtfaq.com

    there is a very good analysis of sfam on that site, its under song analysis i think. also other interesting stuff there to read, so have a look around:P
    \m/ chunk chunk chunk \m/

  15. #15
    Registered User Barking Pumpkin's Avatar
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    In terms of recent concept albums......and even not recent concept albums, I would say that Pain Of Salvation's 'BE' takes the cake musically even without the "concept concept." Heck, most of their albums at least stand up to 'Scenes From A Memory.'

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