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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1746 ratings

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The Progmatist
2 stars Power chords. Cheesy choruses. Juvenile lyrics. Punk rock-like acoustic breaks "exploding" into chorus reprises. Who is this? Honestly, I'm not sure whether the band even knows anymore. I guess one good to come out of this is that we get a decent sampler CD out of the deal. "The Dark Eternal Night" is a tame if not humorous MEGADETH experiment. With "Forsaken," PAIN OF SALVATION gives us one of their typical works in all of its bombastic Swedish-metal glory. Oh, and lets not forget those DREAM THEATER covers that we can find spread throughout the blandness. In fact, the band does a fairly sufficient job in kind of sounding like DT, especially when it ventures into some predictably "unpredictable" instrumental sections featuring ridiculous time changes and glaringly incoherent guitar and keyboard solos.

In all seriousness, though, this is arguably DREAM THEATER'S greatest failure. FALLING INTO INFINITY surely had its disappointing moments. But we sometimes forget that that album also featured some DT classics like "Trial of Tears," "Lines in the Sand," and "Hell's Kitchen." SYSTEMATIC CHAOS, on the other hand, sounds forced, contrived, and unambitious. It is the sound of a band that seems to be so aware of itself and its need to satisfy its fan base that it cringes away from exploration and authentic experimentation.

The biggest shame here is that we can catch glimpses of a genuine effort. By taking some risks in exploring a musical theme in a passionate way, "Repentance" shows that DT can still create heartfelt music. And despite its flaws, "In the Presence of Enemies" (originally written as one long song) features moments of successful hard rock and emotion. On the whole, though, this album's self-consciousness proves to be its tragic flaw, and it is made only the more noticeable when considered alongside the contemporary releases of some other comparable bands. While PORCUPINE TREE and DEVIN TOWNSEND continue to put out classic albums by devoting themselves to concepts, DT seems to be stuck on themselves. And I will argue that it won't be until they can place themselves underneath their music that their true talents will be revealed.

The Progmatist | 2/5 |


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