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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover

SYSTEMATIC CHAOS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.32 | 1286 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

darkmatter
3 stars Dream Theater's ninth album is a bit of a mixed bag, but is still a good album. I really wasn't sure what to think when I was getting this. I didn't have high expectations, but my expectations weren't low either, rather somewhere in the middle. Hearing "Constant Motion" and "The Dark Eternal Night" ahead of time didn't exactly change those expectations (but neither song is particularly representative of the sound of the remaining songs).

So after finally buying and listening to it, I was very pleased. It had sounded like a return to form, a good point to be at this point in time in their careers. But after a while, my enthusiasm for this album has faded. Systematic Chaos just doesn't sound that fresh as it did when I first listened to it. A couple songs on this album in particular are a problem. "Constant Motion" is just a poor metal song (I don't listen to Metallica, so I can't speak of the similarities people point out). At least it was the single from the album. And "The Ministry of Lost Souls" is a rather dull song (and it goes by pretty fast when I listen to it, despite its length), I don't hear what's so great about it. But these are just the low points of Systematic Chaos. There are still several good songs. One of my early favorites was "Repentance", very uncharacteristic for Dream Theater, a soft and slow-moving song, odd for a continuation of Portnoy's AA Saga, compared to the last three songs of the series. Although I really liked this song at first, it tends to drag on toward the end, and could use more variety in the playing. However, it's still a good song. And for anyone who didn't hear the Muse influences on "Never Enough" from Octavarium (I didn't hear it at first since I hadn't heard them prior to Octavarium), listen to "Prophets of War". This song is heavily influenced by Muse. A solid song despite the obvious Muse influence (I'm not saying that's a bad thing). Surprisingly, one of my favorite songs on the album has become "The Dark Eternal Night". The opening riff pulls me in when I listen to it. The solo in the middle is excellent. But I'm glad they don't let Portnoy sing more often because he doesn't sound good on this song. Now for the epic: I think "In the Presence of Enemies" is their second or third best of their three songs over 20 minutes. It's a great song, easily one of the best on SC. But the lyrics get... cheesy starting in the second part. Yes, I'm talking about the "dark master" parts. Still, this song is great musically, particularly in the fourth and fifth parts (I think).

Now, don't get me wrong about what I was saying earlier; I still think this is a good album. However, Systematic Chaos lacks a truly excellent or standout track, which hurts it, unlike the last two albums (The title track from Octavarium and "Stream of Consciousness" from Train of Thought). It is a bit stale compared to Dream Theater's other works. I can't help but feel a bit pessimistic about their future albums at this point though. I hope they are able to put out stronger albums in the future.

darkmatter | 3/5 |

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