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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1756 ratings

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4 stars I will probably be burned as a heretic, but I like this album ALOT more than Octavarium, and as much as almost anything they have done except Scenes. Rather than do a song-by-song analysis, I will simply make some general comments.

I find the writing on most of the album as good as or better than most DT albums. Forsaken, Constant Motion, The Dark Eternal Night and Repentance stand out here, though all of it is recognizably DT; indeed Forsaken and CM have joined my favorite DT tracks of all time. There is also a cohesiveness about the writing (both lyrical and musical) that matches almost anything they have done except Scenes. / The jams here are also highly laudable DT, particularly In the Presence Part I (superb!), The Dark Eternal Night (ditto!) and the end of In the Presence Part II. The boys are in fine technical fettle here, doing what they do best. / The lyrics are also among the best, most compelling they have written, and just esoteric enough to keep the "faith" theme therein interesting. I also feel that Labrie's voice is better here - clearer, more confident and expressive - than I have heard him in some time.

Yet perhaps the thing I like best about this album is something that some other reviewers complained about; the "nods" to various other groups. Because this album, more than most other DT albums, does indeed contain nods to (as opposed to simple "influence" by, which is ever-present) everyone from Black Sabbath to Rush, from ELP to Metallica. Whether it is "fritched" growling vocals or death metal chord structures, melodic nods or rhythmic lifts (there is a particularly deft and direct lift from the end of Karn Evil 9 toward the end of the final jam in In the Presence Part II), it is these "homages" that I think add to the brilliance of this album, since, after all, Dream Theater HAS been influenced by all those groups in various ways. And yet the "nods" to these groups are done without interfering with the either the thematic nature of the album or the inimitable DT style.

Unlike most other DT albums, this one truly grew on me: I kinda liked it the first time; liked it better the second; and now, after the third complete and careful listening, have come to the feelings and conclusions above. While there is much to love and admire about many other DT albums, Systematic Chaos can comfortably take its place in their pantheon - a place of some honor and respect.


maani | 4/5 |


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