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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover

SYSTEMATIC CHAOS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1752 ratings

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zeqexes
3 stars Dream Theater's ninth album, entitled Systematic Chaos, was released in 2007 and was their first on their new label (at the time), Roadrunner Records. This album marks a little bit of a shift in sound from the poppish, rocking sound of Octavarium and employs more of a gothic, accessible metal edge. Fans of Dream Theater (myself included) judged that this occurred because of the new label, not because Roadrunner forced them to write in a particular style, but because the band possibly felt pressured to write a more metal and accessible album. Either way, the music on Systematic Chaos doesn't suffer too much, apart from a few tracks. However, the lyrics do suffer quite a lot.

In the Presence of Enemies Part 1 opens up the album with some heavy riffing and strange time signatures (which is a given, seeing as we're talking about Dream Theater). This is one of DT's most loved epics (when combined with Part 2), and that's not without reason. This is a fantastic album opener, and gives a good taste of what the rest of the album is going to sound like.

Forsaken is the main single of the album, with a memorable, heavy riff, and a melodic catchy chorus. This track was quite successful on the new label as a single, especially when Dream Theater hadn't released a single for about 7 or 8 years. The silly lyrics of this song bring it down though (although lyrics have never been the strong point for DT, perhaps they could have written something a bit more intelligent than a story about a vampire kissing a man and infecting him).

Constant Motion is one of the weak moments of the album. It has quite a melodic chorus but doesn't really bring anything new to the table that Forsaken didn't. The breakdown is quite enjoyable though, and the drums are a highlight of this track. Again, the lyrics are weak.

As if we haven't had enough of the bad lyrics, track 4 starts (The Dark Eternal Night), and we get such lyrics practically shouted at us:

I am the last Born of the blood of the pharaohs The ultimate god of a rotting creation Sent to unleash this curse

What is that? Anyway, lyrics aside, this song has quite a strong riff. The track turns into instrumental mayhem before ending with the listener probably feeling a little unsatisfied with the first half of the album.

The second half is better though. Track 5, Repentance, is one of the most intriguing songs that DT have made, and certainly one of the best on Systematic Chaos. This is part 4 of Mike Portnoy's 12 Step Suite. A riff that we've heard before in This Dying Soul is played softly and repetitively, and the whole song builds from there. We have appearances from musicians such as Steven Wilson, Mikael Akerfeldt, Neal Morse and many more, expressing their regret for past deeds in their life. The atmosphere in the song is quite special, and makes it one of the strongest moments on Systematic Chaos.

I don't really have much to say about Prophets of War, apart from saying that it doesn't continue the quality that we got from Repentance. This is a perfect example of a filler track that could have easily been left off the album. However, the lyrics (written by James LaBrie) are some of the best on the album.

The Ministry of Lost Souls, the 15 minute epic, starts with a gothic sounding, catchy ostinato played on the keyboard. The lyrics on this track are again very weak, probably the worst on the album. However, this is probably the most musically strong song on the album, apart from In the Presence of Enemies. The solos on this song, although quite predictable, are actually quite enjoyable.

Part 2 of In the Presence of Enemies begins, starting with the same sound that Part 1 ended with. The first section, Heretic, is again one of the strong points on the album, with a memorable, melancholic but angry sounding melody. This segues into the next section, which features fast, aggressive singing and instrumental work. The song ends on a very good note, with a new melody being introduced that works very well as an album closer (just like Razor's Edge on Octavarium did).

Overall, this album is fairly good. It's worthy of buying, especially for the last two tracks. The lyrics are dreadful though. 3/5

zeqexes | 3/5 |

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