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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1752 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Dream Theater returns in full force!

First off, Id like to make an aside by stating that I find it unfortunate that many bands can grow so large and so hyped that their music often gets looked down upon simply because they are popular. I've always found this the case with Dream Theater, many people frowning on them simply because so many others think they're the best thing since sliced bread. While I fall somewhere closer to the "best thing..." side of the spectrum I often try to listen with a critical mind to the music they're making. On this particular outing I find that Dream Theater has produced one of their best works, and now I'm going to get into the review.

While not quite up to caliber with some of their most popular works (ex: Scenes from a Memory), this is an album that far surpasses some of the bands recent work, making it likely the best thing they've made since "Six Degrees". DT has also steered the ship in a more heavy direction, perhaps provoking the responses they've been getting from the prog community. However, what does not change is the pure musicianship put forward by the members, and the supreme storytelling that we're used to from the band.

Starting with the first part of the book ending track IN THE PRESENCE OF ENEMIES PT 1 opens with some quick guitar and launches strait into the 6 or so minute overture, one that's (much heavier than, but) likely on par with something like Overture 1939 or Six Degrees Overture. The rest of the track slows down, if ever so slightly, as Rudess's keyboard launches into the vocal segment. FORSAKEN is a bit more "poppy", but only in structure, the story of a man who's taken away by a vampiress. Some great vocal work by La Brie here, but definitely not the album's standout. CONSTANT MOTION is the first single off the album, and is a blindly fast track that's great by all means, likely the best choice for a single since 1993's Lie, notable in the track is the stupidly fast guitars and the vocal harmonies between La brie and Portnoy. THE DARK ETERNAL NIGHT is likely the heaviest piece of the album accompanied by some saloon piano randomly thrown into the soloing. An interesting track that's fun to rock out to. REPENTANCE is the next part of DT's "AA" saga, and while this one's slower than the rest in the series, it's still a bit redundant in sound. A good track taken on its own or paired with the others in the series, but for those of us wanting new material only on new albums, you may be a bit let down. Moving on, PROPHETS OF WAR is a short number that targets the Bush Administration. THE MINESTRY OF LOST SOULS is a beautiful song that highlights exactly what DT does best. It starts slow and ends with beautiful soloing that can only be described as excellent. One of DT's finest moments. Finally the album ends as it began with IN THE PRESENCE OF ENEMIES PT 2. Another fine epic by Dream Theater, and the coda is just as good as the beginning. Accompanied by some fine storytelling ("Welcome tired pilgrim/into the circle/we have been waiting. Angels fall, All for you, Heretic") this is easily the epic we would expect after the previous album's fantastic title track.

While the metal in this one definitely is heavier than DT's other albums this is not one to miss. While prog-heads may find that it's a bit too over the top, those of us who got into the prog genre through metal while have a fine taste of nostalgia left in our mouths while still hearing some new material. 4 stars, this one's excellent.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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