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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1752 ratings

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Mr. Mustard
2 stars Systematic Chaos is often regarded as Dream Theater's low point. While I can't disagree with this, I do believe there is still a lot of merit to this album. The unfortunate thing about this album is that, like Train of Thought, much of its prog has been stripped for a more metal sound. But more than that, Dream Theater is beginning to become dominated by Portnoy's cheesy attempts at death metal vocals. Much of the album is overly technical and it's obvious they have lost what made them so great in the images & Words era.

The album begins with part one of 'In The Presence of Enemies,' which begins with an extended instrumental lasting four minutes (which includes a nice Petrucci solo) before vocals come in. I don't really have a problem with this song, but it's hardly the best they've done.

'Forsaken' is another Dream Theater pop song. The song is pretty basic and the chorus isn't really that great.

'Constant Motion' is a good song which is ruined by the absolutely horrible vocals. It sounds like the Glass Prison in a lot of places, but at least that song was decent vocally. The instrumentation IS strong in this song though, especially the breakdown and solo in the middle where Portnoy is phenomenal.

'Dark Eternal Night' suffers from the same problem as Constant Motion. Instrumentally the song is awesome; Jordan's keys mix so well with the guitar and the riffs are really nice. But the vocals are overly cheesy and do nothing to help the song.

'Repentance' is Portnoy's fourth song in the 12-step suite. It has a Pink Floyd vibe but I think the song is overdone and a bit too long. I do praise Dream Theater for playing with this kind of sound, considering what the rest of the album sounds like.

'Prophets of War' is another one of those pop/Muse-like songs I hate so much. The vocals and overall structure of the song are disappointing. Prophets of War is a clever title, but it falls short as a song.

'The Ministry of Lost Souls is an interesting song.' On one hand you have this great slower paced melody, and then a fantastic instrumental section at seven minutes in. But the two aren't appropriate for each other. Add to the fact that the slower section takes over four minutes to develop. The ending melody played on guitar is amazing though, and it gives me chills every time I hear it.

The album ends on a decent note with In the 'Presence of Enemies Part 2.' Again, the instrumental work in this song is great, but the vocals are over the top cheesy this time.

I think it's pretty obvious what I think about this album at this point. Vocally it is terrible. There are some good instrumental ideas here though, I just think they were laid out poorly and were ruined by the excessive technicality and cheesiness. Also, the album is very derivative of their earlier stuff, especially Octavarium and Train of Thought, which are both great albums in their own right.


Mr. Mustard | 2/5 |


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