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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.33 | 1895 ratings

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4 stars I can only find two reasons why this is not a masterpiece: "Constant Motion" and "The Dark Eternal Night".

After reading many reviews on this album, I come to think many people have been swayed away from Dream Theater's progressive move from album to album. Perhaps it's the fact that I came into Dream Theater with 'Scenes' and did not hear 'Images and Words' and 'Awake' until after hearing this album that I was not exposed to their past performances and could listen to this album with more of a fresh start. This is a very different sound from their early albums, but a logical transition from Octavarium. That being said this album is just beautiful (to me at least). It has everything you need for a heavy metal progressive album (even though this is not my favorite genera). But on to the review!

"In the Presence of Enemies" is an instant masterpiece. Split into two parts opining and closing the album. It has great build ups, great climaxes, and amazing resolution. Although the story is some what simplistic, it fits perfectly in the album. They guitar and keyboard symmetry held together by the stand alone drums creates a perfect sound. The only draw back to the song is, although massive as they are, it still feels as though they stopped it short somewhere. Perhaps it's my own personal preference, but when they find a good flow of sound, let it go and progress, but instead they stop and move onto another wave. But there are other songs to take care of this fix for me.

After this behemoth of music, we move into 'Forsaken', a story of a vampires and her unsuspected victim. It reminds me of the opining of Tubular Bells, at least with the beginning piano solo. This is a pretty good song, nothing spectacular, but good enough not to skip. The next two songs however...

I don't know what they where thinking..well, I kind of do since I picked up the deluxe edition with DVD where they explained they wanted this album to have 'balls'. Well these two songs definitely have it, and it's not my cup of tea. The vocals on these two tracks are very hard on the ears and, although I love me some good head banging metal, I just can't stand 'screaming' or painful sounding vocals. There are some amazing parts in these two songs, as there are in most Dream Theater songs, but as good as they are, I can't sit though the screaming and pain.

'Repentance' is a beautiful song. This picks up the progressive build up sound that 'Enemies' lack at points. This is one of those rare soft metal songs that works. It continues this mellow feel all the way through, creating an incredible relaxing song. The spoken word aspect to the song is pure and perfict, since a lot of my hero's of music are in it (Steve Hagarth and Jon Anderson to name a few).

'Profits of War' is the token political song that Dream Theater has made a habit of doing. Its not a bad song, and like 'Forsaken' not bad enough to skip it while listening to the album as a whole. I love the keyboards in the song, that's enough to keep my ear interested.

The last song of the review is my favorite song on the album: "The Ministry of Lost Souls". This song reminds me of Genesis's "Cinema Show" (Let me explain) by being a love story at heart. I love the story..even though it is slightly emo (yes.I went there). Musically, it reminds me of a heavy metal version of "And you and I" by Yes. Don't ask me how; its just has that 'feel'. It has a perfect balance between the mellow atmosphere from 'Repentance' and the hard rock sound from 'Enemies'. I love that it lets the sound go at the end and it seems as though the soul is slowly drifting off.

To rap everything up: "In the Presence of Enemies" "Ministry of Lost Souls" and "Repentance" are all complete masterpieces. "Profits of War" and "Forsaken" are good, but not essential, they both have their moments. Finally, as noted twice before, "Constant Motion" and "The Dark Eternal Night" would have done better being off this album, they are just ear bleeders and I skip them each and every time.

4 stars.

mothershabooboo | 4/5 |


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