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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover

SYSTEMATIC CHAOS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1743 ratings

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Luke. J
2 stars With ''Systematic Chaos'', Dream Theater did certainly not reinvent the wheels on which they once drove through high-quality passages and innovation. In fact, I think it is time for a tyre change, because the old ones are already worn out, even this competent band drags itself into a moor. Maybe this words are a bit harsh, but express what I want to say the best. A pioneer band of their genre ran out of ideas, creativity, and sloppy compositions are the result. You get the feeling you heard it all before. The few good ideas, the beautiful melodies, the inspired moments all seem to flow in unncecessary instrumental chaos, which is anything else but a pleasant listen for me. Either Dream Theater decided to go safe for this, or they ran out of ideas. Nothing really new, yet it is time for some moving in the Theater.

When I heard the interview on this album, I first became sceptic. ''The most fun recording sessions since Awake'' - they were so much fun Kevin Moore left. ''This album has.. balls'' - again more metal? On this record, there IS more metal than on previous ''Octavarium'', especially the preview songs ''Constant Motion'' and ''The Dark Eternal Night'' show Dream Theater going heavier than ever before. That means Petrucci shreds and plays heavy riffs, Rudess is in the background, and you can hear Myung's bass (as often mentioned, that is actually rare), LaBrie does the moves like on ''Awake'', and Portnoy adds some hammering on his drum kit. This is not bad at all, yet there songs lack originality. The attempt to reach it with the piano solo in ''The Dark Eternal Night'' seems so out of place. Also, so much remembers me of the old days of Metallica. Not bad, but heard more than enough.

The long track ''In the Presence of Enemies'' was, for some obscure reason, divided with one part at the beginning, the other in the end. To judge it as one track is not easy, because it consists of many different sections. Sounds good so far, yet I find myself thinking that most is a recital of other songs. I had moments like ''isn't this from The Glass Prison? Oh, Fatal Tragedy!'' It's like they placed the bricks of the previous albums in a different order. LaBrie however adds some more emotional moments to the mechanical formula.

With ''Forsaken'', we have a perfect ''make a video to it''-track. Less complex, more single oriented, catchy melodies. Nice at first, after some listens I felt like skipping.

''Repentance'' continues the AA suite of Portnoy. On opposite to the previous parts, here we have nearly psychedelic guitars, which carry the song over some calm vocals and spoken words-samples. It would have made a very good song, if it was not too long. To hear the same 5 notes in some variations repeated for 10 minutes I find really annoying. Enough material for 5 minutes, but over this time, it becomes repetitive. However, I like this new direction. If the band finds out how to use the element right, I see a promising future.

''Prophets of War'' and ''The Ministry of Lost Souls'' suffer the afore mentioned problem of promising melodies flowing into something more or less pointless. While ''Prophets of War'' at the same time lacks originality, ''The Ministry of Lost Souls'' has the most beautiful melody of the album in its first part. Why does a song as emotional as this have to turn into some fast and chaotic playing?

As a sum-up, the instrumental playing is as high-quality as always. for me, often it becomes too much a show-off than a song. Demonstrations of virtuosity do not really have to be in every second of a song for me. Also, some of Rudess' keyboard sounds seem too synthetic and do not fit the music. It is not my taste, how this synth brass (I guess) is used in every song, sometimes disturbing even. LaBrie seems to have lost some abilities, as he does not make an effort to hit the high notes, I suppose this range-problem is due to his age. Call this album usual and sometimes lacking in innovation and originality, this is it for me. You clearly do not miss a lot if you avoid buying this.

However, I recommend you to read some other reviews, to gain a clear view of the music. Behind all felt criticism, add the words 'in my opinion', as some people are nealry euphoric, other extremly disapoointed. The best really is to listen to some samples to decide in which category you belong. For me, only collectors and true fans should spend their money on it. That all, make it two stars: for collectros/fans only.

Luke. J | 2/5 |

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