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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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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Systematic Chaos' - Dream Theater (7.5/10)

After two or three enjoyed listens of 'Systematic Chaos,' I started to tire of it's corniness. It really started to get on my nerves, and before long, I was starting to hate it. 'The Dark Eternal Night' especially. Lyrics like 'Dark master of sin, I will fight for you' exemplified the reason why I was so dissapointed by the album. Being one of my favourite bands, I would logically have very high expectations for the album when I bought it. Having a great resentment for the cheesiness of it all, I shelved the album and spent my time on other albums...

About a year passed, and finally I decided to give 'Systematic Chaos' another try. I was amazed by how much I enjoyed it. Granted, there were still parts of it (such as 'The Dark Eternal Night,' which I still don't like) that I found annoying, but musically speaking, the majority of the material was very good! While it's definately not one of the best Dream Theater has done, it's a worthy album by any standard, and has some absolutely outstanding songs that will stand the test of time as being some of Dream Theater's best.

'In The Presence Of Enemies' is a song (divided into two parts) that takes up about half an hour of play time. While I wouldn't count it as another 'Change Of Seasons,' it's still a great epic, and the fact that it's divided into two parts works really well to bring the album together. Having an epic split into two parts for once is refreshing, relieving the listener of the chore of having to sit through such an extended duration composition. The first half is absolutely stellar, and while the second half is very good, parts of it scream 'cheesiness.' I'm sorry, but blatantly singing about 'serving and dying for a dark master' doesn't work as well as I'm sure they hoped it would.

'Forsaken' and 'Constant Motion' (the two singles off of the album) have two very contrasting moods to them. 'Forsaken' is a pretty straightforward gothic metal song, but it is very well written. The latter single is much more chaotic, and what you would typically expect from the band; complete with plenty of blistering guitar and keyboard solos...

The other great song on here is 'The Ministry Of Lost Souls.' With a song structure that's reminiscent of 'Sacrificed Sons' off of 2005's 'Octavarium,' this 14 minute song tells a very moving story of a man who saves a woman from drowning, but the woman kills herself, feeling empty without the presence of her saviour. This is a song I love to hear, because it shows that Dream Theater can still write a damn good song without having to rely on their technical abilities. Warm guitars, and perfectly mournful vocals followed by a blistering dose of instrumental make 'The Ministry Of Lost Souls' an instant classic in Dream Theater's repetoire.

The song I obviously have the biggest problem with is 'The Dark Eternal Night,' the distorted vocals are really stupid and amelodic, and the music is noisy. The instrumental section though is suprisingly good and progressive. Disregarding all of the vocal and conventional 'songwriting' parts, the song is actually not that bad. But as it is, it is a blemish on an otherwise excellent album. With no offense to Mr. Mike Portnoy (he really is a fantastic drummer,) but someone should tell him to stop singing and ruining otherwise good music!

'Repetence' is 'Systematic Chaos' addition to the suite about alcoholism that Mike Portnoy has been fronting for years now. Without a doubt the most mellow track on the album, it takes a bit too long to get where it's meant to go, but there are some beautiful melodic lines in it, and the repetition makes it an almost hypnotic segment of the album. 'Prophets of War' is another pretty straightforward song that sounds like it was plucked out of a Muse songbook. For recent Dream Theater lyrics however, there is alot of intelligence here, and the song is a profound commentary on the current war in the Middle-East.

While this album isn't quite as good as I hoped it would be (with a few tweaks here and there; it could have been a really excellent piece of work), it's definately a step in the right direction. One can only hope that Dream Theater's 2009 release will surpass this album, and the world will be gifted with an album that brings the band back to their peak of glory...

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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