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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
2 stars DREAM THEATER albums are becoming increasingly unnecessary for many prog listeners. 'Systematic Chaos' is a hybrid of 'Train of Thought' and 'Octavarium', with extended workouts wrapped around memorable riffs and tunes, all packaged in that technically proficient manner so familiar to fans. Objectively, there's much to appreciate on a DT disc. So why the enormously variable ratings and reviews?

More than any other band, DREAM THEATER polarise opinion. I've been threatened by people objecting to my opinion of the band's music - how could it be anything other than a masterpiece? - and read one-star reviews suggesting they are little short of appalling. I can't help feeling the truth is likely to be found somewhere between these extremes.

So it is, I think, with this album. There are genuine moments of brilliance here. The album's intro is technically proficient, yes, but also dramatic. Just a shame they made the decision to separate it from the bulk of the song, as it feels orphaned. 'Forsaken' is rather childish in its subject matter - not because it deals with fantasy, but because of how it deals with the subject - but this should not obscure a good tune. 'Constant Motion' is a serious misstep, DT trying to sound like another popular band. 'The Dark Eternal Night' is potential brilliance stretched too thin (and those vocals! shudder) ... and so it goes. 'Prophets of War' and 'Ministry of Lost Souls' were born prematurely, and could have done with far longer gestations.

In my opinion their new material ought to be taken on extended tours to have the rough edges knocked off. Their albums would benefit from more discipline in the cutting room and in song selection. Here's the non-fan's likely experience: moments of wonder separated by moments of cringing embarrassment. Unfortunately here there are too many embarrassing moments. Neither essential nor poor, this album rates between two and three stars. One of those records that never sounds as good in the CD player as you remember ...

russellk | 2/5 |


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