Dream Theater Octavarium

The leaders of the modern progressive hard rock movement are back with their eighth full-length. Wrapped up in always-cool art from Hugh Syme, the excitement pretty much ends there. Octavarium finds the band pulling in the reigns a bit, and while some standard prog-rock trademarks remain (keyboard solos, melodramatic crooning, etc.), there’s nothing that blows any minds here, or even gives a mild bend; hell, a good chunk of this disc feels like basic radio rock from the local old-guy bar band. The production is crisp and clear (the best part about the album, really), but even drummer Mike Portnoy seems to reel things in so much he basically sounds like an incredibly solid yet straight-laced drummer here. Sure, there’s still really long songs, but apart from that, this just feels like 76 minutes of overdramatic rock, too heavy on the light and weak, and not enough time spent on just showing off, which is really why we come to this band, isn’t it? (Atlantic)