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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1752 ratings

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4 stars I was nervous to hear Dream Theater's 2007 release 'Systematic Chaos' when it first came out. Having recently signed with Roadrunner Records, one of the most famous and well-known metal labels in the world, I expected the band to water down their sound in order to appeal to the more mainstream audience that the label would market them to.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

Everything Dream Theater fans love about the band is still here. The complex song structures, intricate musical passages and over-the-top performances remain as they always have. But there is one thing in particular that this album has in abundance, and I can only really describe it as "focus". Possibly due to the fact that they now have a big time record company backing them (which is support they felt they never truly got with past labels), but the guys really go all-out to appeal to a whole new metal audience, whilst trying to remain as loyal to their prog fans as the fans have to them.

Being a heavier and darker album in terms of tone, feeling and musical content, it should come as no surprise that 'Systematic Chaos' is a very guitar-driven release, in particular with songs like 'Constant Motion' and 'The Dark Eternal Night'. That's not to say that Keyboard player Jordan Rudess is neglected, as he still shines in the Evanescence-sounding 'Forsaken', and with one song being 15 minutes and one being 17 minutes in duration, you know there will be plenty of progressive madness to keep die-hard fans happy.

Also featured is 'In the Presence of Enemies', spread into two parts that open and close the album respectively, part one has some very tasty vocal melodies, while part two has some of the greatest guitar riffing ever, with John Petrucci totally owning it in this song and putting most modern metal bands to shame. Then there's 'Repentance', the fourth part in Mike Portnoy's "12 Steps" suite, based on Alcoholics Anonymous and it's 12-steps to recovery program. It's one of the more interesting chapters of the suite due to its softer, more sombre tone, and the various confessions from guest musicians adds depth to the serious nature of the lyrics.

And for the more dedicated fans; the special edition release comes with a cool bonus DVD with over an hour of studio footage, documenting the making of this album! I love stuff like this, as it's a great chance to see not only how the finished product was made, but also an opportunity to delve into the personalities of the band members.

'Systematic Chaos' won't please the fans who were put off by Dream Theater's heavier direction built upon over the previous few albums, but for the most part they've done a fantastic job in adapting their style for a broader metal audience, and since they've only gone on to bigger and better things since then (an impressive feat so far into their careers) I'd say it was a success!

martindavey87 | 4/5 |


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