Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos
Roadrunner Records
Progressive Metal
8 songs (78.41)
Release year: 2007
Dream Theater, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Aleksie
Major event
As a music lover that a couple of years back worshipped Dream Theater with great passion and a couple of years less back lost a great deal of that passion from a bit of a ”burn out”, my approach to Systematic Chaos was mainly quite a sizeable interest. Not that I’ve ever thought the bands album to have been less-then-good. Mostly they have been stellar. But during the musical period when my player was filled with funk and death metal, proggy wizardy of the likes of Dream Theater took a backseat.

That said, Systematic Chaos, along with my return to digging prog bands en masse and the magnificent Score-DVD, have rejuvenated my interest in the group. This album has all the things you would expect from the band: excellent production, mind-boggling musicianship, looong songs, and then some.

In The Presence Of Enemies – Part I hits the record into high gear with mean business. The guitar and drums descend in unison and the off-timed beats take control. The omnipotent widdling is present along with well-crafted melodies and crazed tempo shifts. Right away though, one will feel the muscle in the guitar riffs. I don’t know if this is a result of John Petrucci’s actual physical beefcaking (his physique seems to be almost Stallonesque, really just a few pounds down from Kane Roberts’ 1980s frame) or simply the overall aggressive feeling that Mike Portnoy said they wanted for this album, but it works damn well. I’d say the bands riffing hasn’t been this powerful since Scenes From A Memory.

Speaking of Portnoy, it is a given that the drumming is super-flashy as well throughout the record. Whose time am I wasting here by stating the obvious? All of these guys perform on massive skill levels. Constant natural 20s, if we are to get super-nerdy here with D&D-terminology. Although James LaBrie confuses me slightly on this album. Considering how nearly perfect his singing is on the Radio City Music Hall –recording, he is holding it a bit back on this album. I think he doesn’t utilize his dramatic highs as much as he could, but it could be a conscious decision. He pulls off the vocals very well, but seems to hold himself back. Portnoy and Petrucci have raised the amount of their backing vocals, which is fine by me. Their more subdued voices compliment LaBrie's soaring vocals well.

I just love that pounding opening to Dark Eternal Night. Or the Panteraesque ending with the slow, groovy riffing. Damn, makes me want to pick up a guitar and start playing. Also, must give love for that saloon-piano interlude which Jordan Rudess seems to seriously enjoy as this isn’t the first time he has included those in DT’s songs. The several race-like solo spots that he scorches with Petrucci will most likely tire many, but I can handle them easily and even enjoy most of the finger-twisters this time around.

Ballads are here as well. Repentance is a very sweet acoustically driven, mellow piece, with ominous spoken parts running on top of brooding atmospheres. That is Porcupine Tree’s Steve Wilson singing the intro, right? Sounds so much like him. The Ministry Of Lost Souls is a much more epic and grandiose piece that adds heavier parts in the mix. This good, for the entire 15 minutes of the song would have been much flatter if it had been kept mellow all the way.

Current events are tackled in Prophets Of War, which is a driving, futuristically rocking track that reminds me of Ayreon. The whole album is closed with the 16-minute mammoth, In The Presence Of Enemies – Part II. It packages the dark, heavy, grand and mellow elements that have been utilized throughout the record in one song, with fist-raising gang shouts to boot.

Fans that have always worshipped the stages Dream Theater has played on should lose none of their admiration as a result of Systematic Chaos. Using myself as an example, it can also awaken interests that have been dusting up with time, or even ones that have never before been there. An outstanding record.

Killing Songs :
In The Presence Of Enemies - Part I, Forsaken, Constant Motion, Dark Eternal Night, Repentance & Prophets Of War
Aleksie quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Dream Theater that we have reviewed:
Dream Theater - Distance Over Time reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Dream Theater - Dream Theater reviewed by Rob and quoted 79 / 100
Dream Theater - Live At Budokan reviewed by Aleksie and quoted no quote
Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Events reviewed by Crash and quoted 73 / 100
Dream Theater - A Change Of Seasons reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
To see all 18 reviews click here
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