Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1752 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
2 stars This album is not worthless or terrible, but if you look at the history of Dream Theater, it is both predictable and unfortunate.

There's not even anything particularly wrong with this album. The songs are all entertaining. The guitars go fast like their supposed to. The keyboards are still some of the wildest since Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The drums do their complicated thing, complete with fast fills and wild cymbals. The vocals are as strong as ever, really. The bass even gets heard in a couple of songs. So what's wrong with this release? Why two stars? The answer is in not what the album does but what the album does not do. First off, there really is nothing new here from Dream Theater, aside from one weird song and a new interest in power metal sorts of lyrics about vampires and Satan (or maybe by power metal I meant death metal--I get those two confused all the time). The progressive riffs are the same sort of thing. The vocal melodies for the most part fairly stock and standard. The shredding is pretty uninteresting. Don't get me wrong, the band try some new things here, but most of the album's running length is dedicated to Dream Theater playing Dream Theater sorts of music, something that shouldn't bother me, but in light of their 90s output, they've proved they are not a band who plays the same thing all the time. But Systematic Chaos ends up feeling stagnant and mechanical.

It opens with the first part of the epic In the Presence of Enemies. This first part is neat, starting off with an overture of sorts. Unfortunately, the song, while interesting, is not very inspiring or inspired. It moves off into Forsaken, a song in the vein of Evanescence that is cool the first couple times but does not hold up to repeated listening. Constant Motion is the classic Dream Theater track, with an intro built around shifting time signatures. It drops into metal mode and flies forward like As I Am or Lie. The instrumental portion in the middle doesn't quite fit, but it isn't as jarring as Dream Theater fans have gotten used to. This song ended up on Rock Band, and I must say, that has actually increased my appreciation of it: seeing how it all fits together. I imagine, though, that that would be the effect of almost any Dream Theater song there. Track four was my initial favorite, The Dark Eternal Night, the heaviest song on this album. Unfortunately, the instrumental break, while neat, does not fit very well, and it gets old on repeated listenings. The outro, however, is a very nice bit of crunchy guitar and Jordan Rudess noodling away.

Just as you're about to write this album off as a completely standard Dream Theater release, however, Repentance moves in. The direct sequel to The Root of All Evil, one expects another heavy and noodle-fraught song. Instead, we get an atmospheric and moody song that sounds more mature than anything Dream Theater has written since Falling into Infinity. The clean guitars sound wonderful, and the haunting voices in the ending really make this the best song on the album, maybe one of the best they've released in the 21st century. After this comes what sounds like a ballad at first, The Ministry of Lost Souls. The first seven or so minutes are splendid, very emotional and very well composed. However, it suddenly turns to a random and jarring instrumental portion for the second half of the song, and it suffers mightily because of it. A tender guitar solo returns the song to form at the end, but it's not enough and the damage has been done. The last track, the second half of the main epic, starts very promisingly. Atmosphere and menace build up to a wonderfully catchy and well-written chorus about the Dark Master. The energy levels stay high once they hit high, and this song runs very well. However, another jarring instrumental section that kills the flow of the song moves in, and we are left wondering why the band still wants to repeat Train of Thought.

Hey, if you like Dream Theater, you'll probably enjoy this one. What it all comes down to, though, is that Dream Theater has done much better and progressive metal as a genre has many greater things to offer. Start elsewhere with Dream Theater, or look at other main prog metal acts.

LiquidEternity | 2/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this DREAM THEATER review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.