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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover

SYSTEMATIC CHAOS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.32 | 1259 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

juanvalverde
5 stars Systematic Chaos, dont like the title, and aside from two little things that i will get in to shortly, thats about the only things i dislike about this album.

Train of Thought followed an album that is considered by many as the second or third best DT album of all time. Six degrees of inner turbulence is a great follow up to DT masterpiece, scenes from a memory, and blends the heavyness with the artistic proggyness that DT has been known for since their early days with Images & Words. ToT didnt live up to expectations due to the fact that it lacked the creativeness of their last two efforts, but hey, its difficult to follow those two albums, even by their standards. After that, they tried to redeem themselves (even if they don't want to admit it) with Octavarium. They still mixed in a couple of experiments, with I walk beside you and Never Enough, but they included an homage to their favorite songs from their favorite bands in the epic 24 minute behemoth "Octavarium". Many thought the song was great but the rest of the album lacked the magic from 6doit or SFAM.

It's really difficult that after 20 years you can continue to create and innovate. To make a great album, all 5 ingridients must be in sync, and the time must be right. All of this makes it really hard for a band to mesh and bring us the fans a masterpiece. Systematic Chaos isnt a masterpiece, but is close.

The album starts off with a song that will leave many thinking what if. This is because the song is divided in two parts it was intended to be one big 25 minute monster), and to some it should have stayed in the original form, and to others it encloses a concept that circles the whole album as one. The thing is that this is the way DT chose how to put it, and it changes the way the album will be perceived.

In the presence of enemies pt. 1 starts with a guitar bass drum scale to beggin a riff that very much isnt what we are used to with them. It sounds like a LTE album has just started. Thats the same feeling i had when i first heard Overture 1928, so it must be good. It is, at first we get a riff that will be included more times in the second part of the song, and some wicked patches on the keyboard. We get a 5 minute instrumental piece before starting off with the lyrics, which sound very dark and interesting, telling the story of some sort of master and his servant. The song ends with the words redemption, with a long scale between Rudess and Petrucci that brings a smile to my face. A sound of wind ends the song...

We get to Forsaken, a song that starts with a mysterious piano followed by a hard metal riff that is as good as it gets. Another dark song that seems to have intersting lyrics. Its a more straight forward song, but that doesnt mean it isnt good. The riff must be the best in the whole album. So far Petrucci seems to be in his best form. The chorus is catchy a little bit cheesy but it fits with the song. Overall very satisfying.

A very controversial song was presented by the band in their Myspace site. Constant Motion is a very Metallica-esque song with hard on your nose metal up your @$$ feel. The riffs are very very good. It quickly becomes a favorite for metal fans, and one of the worst dt songs for more prog oriented listeners. To me its a great song because i love both sides of the coin, and this is about as good as you can get with fine hard rock. The solo in the middle has a great musical passage that can be cataloged as one of the best parts of the whole album. Only complaints? The same that have plagued many DT songs, they seem to be taken directly from their influences. Its very much Metallica sounding, no disguising or anything. But hey, they are fans and they dont care to show it.

If Metallica of the St. Anger era is your cup of tea, then this song will remind you of a famous tune called Some kind of monster, as The Dark side of the night seems to take many things from it. Probably the heaviest song in DT history is also one of the best songs they've written in a while. Even by the standards presented already in this disc it shines. Some will hate the distorted voice, but it fits very well with the general theme, its also very dark and moody. The main riff is catchy and if you get to see the video of the band playing it in studio you cant help but admire the complexity of the whole song. The time signatures change constatly and bring diferent scales and sounds. If you like instrumental sections, this one has a big one. It sounds a lot like the isntrumental part in Endless Sacrifice, but way better. It also reminds me of the solos and instrumental parts from SFAM. They clearly took something out of their best album and pasted it in SC.

After 4 unique and interesting songs we finally get to a so-so song. Repetance is the 4th installment in the AA Suite, started by The Glass Prison way back in 6doit. At the beginning of the song we hear a little bit of the rip-off riff (from steve vai in fire garden suite that is) from This Dying Soul, but in acoustic form. The song is very sad, and for the first five minutes is a great song, but after that it goes in circles for way to loong, 5 minutes to long. If this song was shorter it would have been good. To bad its 10 minutes.

Muse has been one of the favorite bands for Mike Portnoy, and we could tell that in Octavarium with Never Enough being a direct rip off of some of their most singular sounds. This time its more evident they wanted to sound like that band. You can never sound like the original. They use the same sound patterns but with their styles and make a very good son in Prophets of war. Many of you may be familiar with the song if you saw the bday video where the group of winning fans where recorded for a chant of war. It sounded like a big bad metal song was in place for these chants, but no, you get this trance-metal song that sound very bad ass but with a save the world twist. The main riff is very catchy and gets in your head.

Of all the songs, The Ministry of lost souls was my least favorite when i first heard the album. Mainly because it sounds so much like ToT Inspired songs or Sacrificed Sons, which didnt age that good with me. The instrumental part didnt seem to make sense, but that is the same thing i thought of the song Beyond This Life from SFAM, after a few listens i finally got it. Its a ballad with a power instrumental section. And its darn good. After the song finishes with strong LaBrie singing, we hear the wind blowing again and get to the epic final track...

When we first started listening to this album, we got an inconcluded track that continues with one of the best efforts in DT`s career. In the presence of enemies pt.2 is a dark powerfull ending to a fine album. It contains several sections that remain true to the first track and continue the nice story explained in the opening. The dark chorus stays with you through the song and is played in several forms, until we get to one of the best instrumentals in any song i have ever listened to. After this we finally get an ending worthy of an epic album. Way better than 6doit, ACOS or Octavarium`s endings, In the presence of enemies ending is truly remarkable finishing with the words "Dark Master" that brings shills, and a sense of satisfaction that only comes from the very best. This is indeed a great song that is perfectly played, and even if devided in two, is a 25 minute epic that will always be remembered as a comeback to DT's best.

All in all, Petrucci seems to dominate, LaBrie doesnt shine in the same way he did in Octavarium. portnoy is just being himself, nothing special, Myung is left in the shadows even though his excellent playing should be put in a higher volume. Ruddess stil brings out his wacky over the top playing but still doesnt achieve Kevin Moore status as a key player.

Systematic Chaos may not be the best name to a dark album, but the sounds inside make it worthy of the DT name, and finally brings back the glory from SFAM a 6DOIT. Well done...

9.2 out of 10.0

juanvalverde | 5/5 |

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