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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover

SYSTEMATIC CHAOS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.32 | 1320 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Col.Nuke
3 stars An interesting album, but not their best.

This album, unfortunately, falls prey to one of Dream Theater's greatest weaknesses: songwriting. They do not disappoint in terms of musical ability; Dream Theater is a collective of some of the best musicians under the sun. But what they do lack is compositions with a true meaning. Over-the-top technicality and corny themes do not make a good band. What use is technicality when you can't use it to express musical themes effectively? This makes Systematic Chaos' compositional value nothing more than a collection of useless, thrown-together riffs and arpeggios worthy of a metalhead's ears, but not the ears of a developed proghead.

Another trait I dislike about Dream Theater is their use of indirect plagiarism. Instead of blending elements of various influencers, the way modern prog artists such as Porcupine Tree and Riverside create their work, they "cut and paste" elements of other bands, resulting in an album that ends up feeling like bits & scraps of other artists, hastily glued together with the musical abilities of Portnoy and the rest of the band. On this particular album, this is present in a few compositions, notably Constant Motion (Metallica) & Prophets Of War (Queen). Dream Theater must take the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in future recordings.

The track that saves this album from a 2-star rating is Repentance, which encompasses parts VIII-IX of the Alcoholics Anonymous suite. Taking a cue from Porcupine Tree, as well as Opeth's softer moments, Dream Theater manages to weave a tapestry of melancholic melodies with no out-of-place technicality present. A track worthy of your listen.

In conclusion, those who enjoy old-school Dream Theater and more sophisticated modern prog need not apply. I recommend the highly superior Awake and Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory records.

Col.Nuke | 3/5 |

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