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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1752 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Here I am, against all odds, reviewing the latest from Dream Theater.

Let me put it this way : it's the first DT album in the Rudess era that really sounds like a band working together for the sake of songs. Labrie found his perfect range, he no longer goes into that high registry (you know how on some songs in the past he went so high that we actually had a hard time understanding the words he sung... take these lines from Take the time from Images and Words : "If there's a price to pay, a wasted year, a man must learn to cope ; if his obsession's real, suppresion that he feels must turn to hope...") Now people like you and me understand what he's saying because we read the lyrics, but if we never had the lyrics, I doubt we would have understood anything, and there are countless examples of this throughout DT's recorded output.

There is also a lot less over-the-top musical noodling (over noodling being the main reason why I loathe Scenes from a Memory as much as I do) ; now of course it wouldn't be a DT album if there wasn't any, but I find that on Systematic Chaos, these moments are well integrated in the songs.

Rudess is also more well integrated in the band, and I find his parts more tasteful than ever, he didn't overdo it this time.

Petrucci is also to be commended for his playing on SC ; take In the Presence of Enemies pt.I for example ; after some high speed noodling in the beginning; he goes on with a very nice heartfelt lead in which he stretches his notes, bends them, and plays with FEEL. His solos are also better than ever, as he no longer starts them at full speed and keeps them like that until the end, he builds them up, they are actually saying something this time around other than "Look how fast I can play and how many trillions of notes I can throw in a couple of seconds".

Myung is equal to himself, and I always thought he was the most constant and tasteful player in the band. Also one of the band's best songwriters ; too bad they don't let him write as much these days.

Portnoy is Portnoy, a technical monster as always, only now he infused dosage in his playing, and to good effect.

Another good point about SC is that the poppier songs are good this time around, not like that awful 'I Walk Beside You' from Octavarium, which sounded so much like Coldplay it was... well, sh!tty. Forsaken is a great song, and Prophets of War, though very reminiscent of Muse, is still very good.

The excellent "Repentance" also shows how DT have matured as songwriters, using delicacy and subtleties as they have so rarely done with this much efficiency in the past.

I have to admit that it's the first time in a long, long while that I love all songs found on a DT album. Very diverse, very tasteful.

So yes, it definitely is my favorite Rudess-era DT album, and an album that drew me back to a band I thought were lost, caught in the traps they set for themselves. Not a masterpiece, but if they keep on going in this direction, the next DT album might be one.

Four stars !!!

Melomaniac | 4/5 |


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