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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1752 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars This is one of those Dream Theater albums that makes me love and hate the band at the same time. I prefer their more "metal" albums like Train of Thought, Awake and to some extent Falling into Infinity, and this album starts out strong. The first 4 tracks are solid, featuring driving guitar riffs backed by a strong rhythm section. LaBrie's voice is clear and distinct, without that annoying breathing inflection he always seems to feel the need to do on the last syllables of each verse. It reminds me of a whiny drama queen at the prom, who just found out that they weren't being taken by a limo to the show. ("Johny, I thought we were going by limiooooooooo "). Maybe it's because they brought him in during the recording of the songs, and not just handing him a lyric sheet at the end. I also thing there was more attempt at providing him with some timely backing vocals, with some nice interplay between him and Portney.I don't know, maybe in the past, since he was surrounded by some other excellent musicians, he felt the need to turn his voice into some sort of "instrument" as well.

Petrucci seems to also have taken control on this album, driving the songs, and telling the other members to follow his lead. Although Rudess gets his licks in, he plays more of a supporting role by adding texture to the songs. In albums past, I thought that Petrucci was allowing too much space to Rudess, and the songs seemed to lose focus as they made sure everyone got enough "solo" time on each song. I realize that prog is free form in nature, but that doesn't mean you have to do it on every song on every album you produce. I like Rudess, I think he can be brilliant at times, and I think he adds a wonderful touch to this album, but I don't think you can have 2 "maestros" via for space on every song. Then, with the beginning of "Repentance", things just seem to slide downward. Sound bites, over dubs and the like can be interesting, funny, poignant, when done in the right measure. This song misses by a mile. Way too much. It's almost like they got lazy or something. The song also starts the album down the path of endless melodramatic songs, based on political issues and views. I don't have any issues with artists expressing their opinions on any topics. It's up to the listener to decide if they like it or not. A well crafted song can bring awareness to the rest of the world about a particular issue. This is a good thing. However, you can go overboard, or arrive late to the party, and that would be my complaint about these songs at this point of time. They would have been more appropriate if they were on a album released right, soon after the start of the war. Knocking the war now is a no brainer.

The album finishes with the song "In The Presence of Enemies Pt. 2". Listening to some interviews by Portney, he said this song was split in two because of it's length, and where to put it on the album (in the beginning or end). The got it right on Pt 1, on Pt 2, ehh (done in my best Jerry Sienfield voice). They seem to be trying too hard to create an "epic" song, complete with pseudo medieval like phrases. It didn't work. I will say the second have of PT 2 saved the song from being completely a bust, but I don't think it's enough to save the whole song.

Overall, I like this album, despite some of my criticisms. I like the direction the band is taking. This would be a worthwhile addition to your collection. Of course, that's assuming that you even care about my opinion. :)

khammer99 | 4/5 |


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