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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.31 | 1757 ratings

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3 stars Systematic Chaos is a album that has been judged, in my opinion, very unfairly. Seen as a sign of Dream Theater on their way out by many, Systematic Chaos, is, to be fair, quite a disjointed and often meandering album. And while it is often very self-indulgent, I believe some of the songs are Dream Theaters best, whereas others are very medicore.

The album starts with a bang; In the Presence of Enemies - Part I, a brilliant track with driving, widing guitar passages; licks accompinied by Portnoy's unique and progressive drumming. As usual with Dream Theater, the bass never really gets any time - it is always in the background, one of my few complaints about an entire band.

Anyways, the songs starts with an amazing instrumental section, then segues via an acoustic piano accompined guitar solo into the song proper, a catchy and epic masterpiece. In the Presence of Enemies - Part I is one of my favourite Dream Theater pieces and definitely one of my favourites on this album - the soaring guitar, the interesting lyrics and of course Ruddess's fantastic keyboard skills are all abound in this piece. A great start. Unfortunatly, it goes downhill from here...

Forsaken is a strange anomaly in Dream Theaters catalog. Firsly, it's only five and a half minutes long. It's also quite cheesy musically and lyrically. It starts with a 7/8 piano riff, but quickly moves into 4/4 and just goes into basic riffs for the rest of the song. The melody is quite good, and the guitar work between lyrical phrases is often nice, but overall, this song is uninteresting.

This is a big problem with this album. It's a problem which continues in the next track. Constant motion suffers from the same simplicity and uninterestingness as Forsaken.

The Dark Eternal Night. This track has attracted a lot of hate from fans for obvious reasons. Yet... I do enjoy this track. Sure, the "MEHTUL" verses are quite silly, and the lyrics are just plain stupid, but the guitar work and drumming in my opinion save this track. The guitar is a weaving appregiated pattern, very extreme, and it only gets better at the Instrumental/Solo. An acoustic guitar shreds a interesting pattern as telltale Time Signature changes signal the beggining of an amazing solo. Petrucci just lets it loose here. Did I mention the wonderful piano interjections from Ruddess? Well, they're wonderful. It ends with a long fade out over a great synth solo... good ending.

Repentance is the second to last part in the twelve-step-suite, dealing with Portnoy's battle with alcoholism are something. Anyways, this track and The Ministry of Lost Souls both suffer from similar problems; they both seem like similar endeavours. They both have meandiring acoustic sections, but Repentance is saved by it's great vocal melody and The Ministry of Lost Souls by it's instrumental. Repentance seems to drag on, due to a spoken word section in which musicians and other colleagues/friends of Portnoy spout seemingly random phrases over a riff.

Prophets of War is a slightly interesting track, if boring. The vocal melody is extremely nice, but it gets quite oldquite fast and the song only really has 3 or 4 different sections; I see it as a weak track.

On to the centerpiece of the album; In The Presence of Enemies - Part II. A best at 16:39, it is simply a great song. With an amazingly overbearing vocal role, with absolutely astounding lyrics and great sections, the song is just great mooment after great moment. From the starting acoustic piano and bass section through the many verses, choruses (chori?) and instrumental passages through to the building, melodramatic ending to the album, the song is onsistently great.

The production quality with Systematic Chaos is very good, with all the tracks sounding extremely clear and sharp; it is not an issue with this album at all.

In conclusion, although a lot of the pieces are weak, the album is, in this reviewer's humble opinion, worth a purchase, if only on the merit of the epic In The Presence of Enemies .

3.5 Stars.

Nathaniel607 | 3/5 |


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