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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1752 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Systematic Chaos indeed: when innovation makes old fans confused, brings annoying new fanboys/girls and create a great return album for the most representative progressive metal band

Systematic Chaos, here is a particularly strange album for Dream Theater: this is the album where James LaBrie's voice finally goes back to the tracks after being thirteen years with his vocal cords injured (he got a food issue back in 94, when he vomited and f*cked up his voice; thank God it was after the Awake recording, as far as i know), is the album where Mike Portnoy sings the most (maybe he should put down the drum sticks and think about becoming a singer like Phil Collins, or maybe not!), is the album where finally Jordan Rudess looks like a freaking magician (seriously, he does) and is the album where music playing becomes impossible for normal people (like every Dream Theater album, he he he he he).

Anyway, this is the album where they finally come back to their old form, but with a twist. The past two albums (Train of Thought and Octavarium) were kind if strange: Train of Thought was an attempt made by Dream Theater to make some kind of progressive metalcore music or some other kind of heavy progressive metal mixed somehow with metalcore; it was not a failure or anything, but it was not like anything Dream Theater ever made, not even on its heavy side, something very unusual but still lacking the magic that made Dream Theater famous for. Octavarium symbolized several steps back as far as heaviness, viciousness, angriness, etc, mattered but represented another solid step forward for progressiveness. OK, the album have a certain resemblance with another artists, but that don't rob the merit from these kids from New York: Octavarium rocked despite all that people say about it. Systematic Chaos stayed somewhere between Train of Thought, Octavarium and somewhere else, since it has all prog elements from Octavarium added with some pretty decent metal.

That mix, with a bit of some very good merchandising, made Systematic Chaos attract both sides of the force: headbagers / metalheads and proggers / progheads, making this album to be the best selling album of Dream Theater's so far, staying on 32nd place on the billboard top 100 selling albums on its best position, against 64th place on the billboard top 100 selling albums for Images and Words. Like this album or not this achievement is definitely some kind of mixed bag of feelings, because this is definitely not their best work and it is attracting a lot of some kind of fan that Dream Theater never had, the seasoned fan, the guy that listens what is fashionable at the moment and then forgets it, unlike the traditional die-hard-faithful fan of the band (you know, the guy that go to 5 consecutive Dream Theater shows).

About the songs, musicianship and other features there are some thing i would like to state:

Well, musically this is the usual Dream theater album:lots of solos from everywhere (except from LaBrie, for obvious reasons), specially guitar and keyboard solos, the two main soloist instruments of the band. Rudess here continue with his special way of playing, debuted in Dream Theater in Metropolis part 2: sometimes he is just simply following Petrucci, other times he is building the harmony, creating a full band feeling and other times he is just simply shredding the keyboards.

Here we can also notice the return of some of brilliance lost in LaBrie's voice for such long time, remembering Images and Words and Awake (Vocally ONLY!)

Songs here are also very balanced, following Octavarium's main structure: Bombastic progressive metal opening, ballad, decent riffed metal songs, great prog metal song, progressive rock song, great song and amazing ending, not exactly following this order in between. One thing that i am definitely sure that could improve here is the song order: putting together In the Presence of Our Enemies part 1 and 2, creating a 25 minute super epic like Octavarium or Change of Seasons would make the album sound much better, no doubt about it.

Grade and final Thoughts

Well, this latest output by Dream Theater is not exactly a masterpiece or anything, but it is not a piece of crap! This is definitely a decent album of a GREAT progressive metal band that shows no sings of slowing down: forever evolving, developing and surprising us. Because of the balance (GREAT songs, kinda good songs and good songs) and the playing i have come to the conclusion that this album right here is worthy on nothing less than 4 stars.

Lets just hope that those guys just stop touring early and deliver us another masterpiece like the ones they made in the past, we need them!

CCVP | 4/5 |


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