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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover

SYSTEMATIC CHAOS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1756 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Wowbagger
4 stars Yea, four stars, I know...maybe a bit much, but I have my reasons.

Dream Theater is one of those bands is pretty easy to hate. About 75% of the time, they come off as unbelievably pretentious, repetitive, and boring. At the same time, when they get it right with an album, they really get it right. Images and Words revolutionized prog metal. Awake was a great example of what the band could do technically, and the song writing was pretty decent too. Metropolis Pt2 is, in my mind, their finest hour. It showed just how much creative energy the band still had and what their true potential could be.

On to Systematic Chaos. The album follows two tremendous flops, Octivarium, an album with a sum total of two good songs, and Train of Thought, the blandest, most CHUGGAH CHUGGAH CHUG album Dream Theater has ever released. Systematic Chaos really was Dream Theater's last chance to prove that they were still capable of making a solid album. The album starts with one of the finest songs Dream Theater has written in the last eight years, In The Presence of Enemies: Pt1. Complex, emotional, and largely instrumental, it starts the album in style. The moment that occurs around 4:10 is remarkable, but unfortunately, some questionable lyrics follow. It really is a matter of taste, I like fantasy themes in my lyrics, if you don't I doubt this will be your cup of tea.

The next three tracks are.....awful. They seem to come from some desire to sound like Metallica or a generic Nu-Metal band. The lyrics are horrendous, no thread runs through the tracks, and they really feature about a minute and a half of content spread out over fifteen minutes of a Petrucci and Portony wank fest. Then, when all seems to be lost, Repentance kicks in. This is the next section of the AA suite, and, in my humble opinion, the best so far. The lyrics are very personal and the band slows down enough to add a really somber tone to the whole thing.

Prophets of War......I think I'm going to skip that one, it basically screams Muse, its hard to even think of it as a DT song. The Ministry of Lost Souls is a pretty neat track. A fair bit of emotion, especially from La Brie. Solid playing from all the musicians, good composition.

In The Presence of Enemies Pt. 2 is the best song on the album. Once again, if you don't like vivid fantasy lyrics, go somewhere else. You won't like this one. There are some nice transitions between sections in the song, the instrumentation is top notch, the composition is solid, the plot is decent, and the lyrics are somewhere between satiric and powerful. There are a lot of glorious moments in the song; its really worth hearing.

So, why did I give this four stars? If you only consider tracks 1, 5, 7, and 8, the album is fantastic, a true return to form. That right there is fifty minutes of music, every bit of which is worthy of several listens for even the most casual fan. If they had chopped it down to this, I might even consider five stars, but all the filler sound-a-like tracks keep me from really praising this effort. Their inclusion is unfortunate and nonsensical. Oh well, what can you do. Hopefully DT will trim the fat for their next release.

Wowbagger | 4/5 |

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