Release Date: June 5, 2007
Label: Roadrunner Records
Genres: Progressive Metal
Number Of Tracks: 8
Dream Theater's debut CD on Roadrunner Records is once again an amazing addition to progressive metal music.
UG Team, on june 08, 2007 17 of 23 people found this review helpful
Sound: When searching for a word to describe the latest Dream Theater album Systematic Chaos, wow comes to mind. From the first track, which is over 16 minutes, the veteran band successfully proves why they are among the top players in progressive metal. The CD marks the band's first release on Roadrunner Records, and the label should be more than satisfied about it's acquisition. Although the length songs might try the patience of some listeners out there, dedicated Dream Theater fans will be in absolute heaven from start to finish.
The title Systematic Chaos does seem to sum up the material heard on the latest CD, with the first track In The Presence Of Enemies - Part I embodying it. That particular song starts ominously and slowly, complete with wind-like sound effects, an echoing synth line, and a simple bass line. Vocalist James LaBrie enters with a similarly mellow vocal delivery, but not for long. It builds and builds, until you get to phenomenal solos from guitarist John Petrucci and keyboardist Jordan Rudess a little more than halfway through. Arrangement-wise, it's a learning experience to hear how the musicians transition so easily from tempo to tempo, all the while playing lightening-speed solos.
What's always respectable about Dream Theater is how they don't need to show off their speed 100 percent of the time. The song Constant Motion is not necessarily a ballad, but it's definitely a slower tempo than other tracks. The more subtle approach allows LaBrie's vocals to come to the forefront for the majority of the song and the solos take somewhat of a backseat. There is a solo by Petrucci -- as amazing as ever -- but it's brief and suits the style of the song.
One of the odder songs is The Dark Eternal Night, which features effects-heavy vocals from LaBrie uncharacteristic from his usual operatic-metal approach. The unique start does foreshadow a bit of what's to come with the rest of the track, which features a cool little saloon-inspired piano work from Rudess and some fantastic percussive work from Mike Portnoy, who also co-produced the record along with Petrucci. // 9
Lyrics: There is a distinct war-related theme on much of Systematic Chaos, from the pictures showing skulls and bullets, to songs like Prophets Of War. On that particular song, there is obviously a call for change with the war in Iraq. LaBrie sings, Compelled; Can we clean up this mess; The loss of loved ones; A perverse request; They continue the same rhetoric; These derelicts that profit. While some Republicans might be miffed by the anti-war lyrics, it's still a fairly engaging song.
Drummer Mike Portnoy adds another chapter to his project called Alcoholics Anonymous Suite with Repentance exploring his experiences with the demon bottle. LaBrie sings, Staring at the empty page before me; All the years of wreckage running through my head; Patterns of my life I thought adorned me. It's a song that it as honest as it gets, and if anything, it's a tiny peek into the mind of Portnoy. // 9
Overall Impression: There is one track that is somewhat of a letdown, if only because it features guest performances from guitarists who don't even play guitar on the song. Repentance features the likes of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani among others, but the musicians only sing backup. While the voices do add a slightly different sound to the track and it's cool to have them all together, it's still a bit disappointing that they didn't contribute any solos to Repentance.
Not all of the tracks are as memorable as In The Presence Of Enemies, but it's hard to not find at the very least 3 or 4 sections that impress in each one. Petrucci is at the top of his game, and pretty much every song features a mind-blowing solo from the guitar god. Petrucci and the band are plain and simple a group of musical virtuosos that play amazingly well together, and listening to them work together so effortlessly is absolutely a worthwhile (and educational) experience. // 9
cglb123, on june 08, 2007 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: After hearing the official releases of Constant Motion and The Dark Eternal Night, I was expecting Train Of Thought Part 2(not a bad thing imo because TOT got me into Dream Theater). I bought the record at my local record store which releases albums the Friday before release date(which is fine with me) and got something totally different. This album has a little bit of everything. After several concentrate listens, I can say that this is one of their best albums, and has the best production. The only dissapointment is that In The Presence of Enemies was split up(it was written as one song). // 10
Lyrics: Lyrics: The lyrics are different on this one. There are political lyrics (Prophets of War), the next AA saga (Repentence), and fantasy lyrics (TDEN, ITPOE, and Forsaken). James is fantastic! I think his vocal chords have finally recovered, and he is in top form. // 8
Overall Impression: 01. In The Presence Of Enemies Pt. 1 - is probably the best nine minutes I've spent in a long time. The entire thing is based on the Korean comic book Priest. It opens with this sick JP riff on flanger, and goes into this riff thats Sacrificed Sons meets The Test That Stumped them all, but better than both of them. Then a crazy unision and a very nice JP melody. Then James comes in for amazing verses and choruses, and it ends with a unision that sends chills down my spine. Shame that they split this song up.
02. Forsaken - I call few songs beautiful, this is one of them. James is sick, the piano intro is awesome, the chorus is beautiful, and the guitar solo is amazing. Its about vampires. Damn good song.
03. Constatnt Motion - the first single. It opens with a sick riff that goes into another sick riff, and is about Portnoy's OCD. This has been described as the Metallica song, but I don't see many similarities. Its a fun song. The instrumental section reminds me of the crazy part in Raise the Knife. The solos are amazing as usual, JP plays the fastest I've ever heard from him and JR owns.
04. The Dark Eternal Night - is the closest DT is coming to death metal. Its about a monster who haunts a town (a little cheesy, but DT are allowed to do that). The instrumental section rivals The Dance of Eternity. It contains two of their heaviest riffs yet, and JR has an awesome continuum solo.
05. Repentance - the mellow moment of the album, and part 4 of Portnoy's AA saga. It is musically based around the first verse of This Dying Soul. One of JP's best solos I think. The second half consists of spoken confessions by many friends of the band, including Steven Wilson and Neal Morse. Some say the end drags on, but if you listen closely, something new is added every repeat. Definitely a highlight.
06. Prophets Of War - the other Muse song (the first is Never Enough on Octavarium). For me, it is the most disappointing track on the album, and the only one that needed to grow on me. The music is excellent, and the lyrics are political. The only qualms I had are that the first verse is strange (but it grew on me), and there is a rap-type section. During recording, 50 fans went to the studio to record chants for this song. These came out great, and this song will be sick live. Not a highlight, but not bad at all.
07. The Ministry Of Lost Souls - this song fights with ITPOE for the favorite spot. I really love this song. I still do not get the lyrics, but that's okay. It starts and ends like a ballad, but goes into instrumental insanity in the middle with one of the best guitar/keyboard unisons I've ever heard, and it ends with a beautiful melody by JP. Great song.
08. In The Presence Of Enemies Pt. 2 - picks up right where Pt. 1 left off. It begins with a quiet and very eerie piano and bass thing, which eventually builds up to a chorus that brings tears to my eyes (Angels Fall/ All For You/ Heretic), and goes into one of the most evil riffs ever. I love it. Then there is a section that is like the middle of The Glass Prison, but I like this more. The instrumental section is insane, and it all rounds off with a reprise of the first guitar solo on the continuum. Outstanding song, the ending is different but an awsome way to end anything.
I do not think it is a good starting place for new comers, but it is in my top 3 Dream Theater albums easily. The special edition comes with a DVD with an excellent 90 minute making-of documentary, and the entire album in 5.1. It is very much worth the extra cash. If it were stolen I would buy three other copies and do terrible things to the thief. // 9
Bassist #5, on june 13, 2007 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: All I can say is wow. "Systematic Chaos" is Dream Theater's ninth album and it is definitely worth listening to. The band strays from there usual progressive metal sound into a more power metal sound. The styles were more dark and heavy. Basically, this CD had balls. This definitely made the disc newer and likable to old and new fans. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics were a lot different than usual. A lot of Dream Theater albums have been concept albums and the each song is about the CD as a whole. This time around, the lyrics were just about the individual song. Also the lyrics were more medieval, dark and dirty. What's better than vampires, curses, and Mike Portnoy's O.C.D.? Not a lot. Yes, it is a little cheesy to sing about a vampire coming at night to suck someones blood, but look at how the songs were presented. They were strong, relentless and never let up.In my opinion, being different in this album made the disc strong. // 10
Overall Impression: In 9 albums, this is one of Dream Theaters best albums. They were presented with the challenge of making an original album, with new music and new lyrics and they delivered. The most impressive part of the album is the darkness of the songs. Every song has a darker sound. No song is happy. They are either sad and and evil or hard and dirty. I love how the whole CD is presented and is just plain out full out metal! There were no disappointments on the CD. Every song was great, heavy and had balls. All in all, this is the best Dream Theater album to date. // 10
agm_ultimatex, on june 08, 2007 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: As always, Dream Theater presents a great, and epic sound. Track 1 In The Presence of Enemies Pt 1 has the nice progressive rock sound that they have presented in songs such as raise the knife, metropolis, the great debate, etc. While adding new elements to their sound. Track 4 The Dark Eternal Night has a very heavy metal sound to it. Great use of all the instruments as always, with amazing guitar and keyboard parts. Track 5 Repentance of course continues Mike Portnoy's series of alcoholism, repeating some sounds heard in This Dying Soul, but keeping to a more slow and emotional sound. The general consensus I give is that they keep good contrast throughout the album, changing things up a bit. Having softer songs and some heavy ones, while providing the virtuoso sound that they always have. // 8
Lyrics: As always, I am in awe by the lyrics. John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy are terrific writers. The lyrics are extremely deep and meaningful. The lyrics provide an epic feel to many of the songs, and emotion as well. Repentance is a good example of emotion. How Mike has gone through a lot of problems, and is coming to the point of repenting them. Prophets of War seems to be about the conflicts out in the Middle East, and what has come from them. That the U.S. administration has profited greatly from it, over many suffering through this war. James Labrie seems to be sounding better, as he has fully healed or close to it from his incident in late '94. He still adds a great aggressive sound to the heavier songs, and a passionate one to where it is needed. // 8
Overall Impression: This album compares to their other stuff by being a progression in their career. How their skill has grown, and by what their experiences has taught them. They continue to touch on pressing issues through out the world with Prophets of War. Previous examples are The Great Debate (Stem Cell Research) and Sacrificed Sons (9/11). The songs I find the most impressive are In the Presence of Enemies, Forsaken, Constant Motion, The Dark Eternal Night (the keyboards are amazing, I laughed at one part, you'll know which one when you hear it.), and the ministry of lost souls. What I love about this album is that they keep to some tendencies in their music, while adding some new ones. The only thing I do not like, is I wish Repentance was a little heavier. If I lost this album, I'd be mad if the case was gone, but for the music, I could burn it as I rip all my CDs. // 10
a7xsoad, on june 11, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Dream Theater have gone through some fairly major changes over the period of their last few albums. There appears to be a common opinion that 'Images And Words' was Dream Theater's magnum opus, and that 'Scenes From A Memory' in 1999 was the only album over the next 10 years that competed closely. It seems that we can be very trusting of Mike Portnoy, he has only told DT fans twice that the band has made major changes to the sound and songs for their upcoming albums, for Scenes From A Memory and Systematic Chaos. Scenes From A Memory was seen a huge return to form after the 'mainstream-appealing' Falling Into Infinity, while Systematic Chaos is simply a huge step forward from both their previous album Octavarium and much of their 20+ year career. Highly refined, technical and dynamic throughout, Systematic Chaos is one of the best progressive metal albums of the era, and possibly the best of the year. Although long-standing fans will be upset, as with previous Dream Theater albums, about the lack of songs with any real lyrical substance or reference to real-life events, and the several mainstream-worthy songs that appear to take fairly generously from the bands' influences like on Octavarium, it cannot be denied that Systematic Chaos showcases everything that Dream Theater both was, and has become over an amazing and diverse musical career. The particapance of the individual members themselves continues in a similar trend to the last few Dream Theater albums, with John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy taking centre stage in the instrumental sections, Jordan Rudess quietly building foundation to the songs and then suddenly exploding with crazy solos, and thankfully with a considerable degree of defined, memorable and 'audible' melody at points, rather than constant, exclusively technical 'chaos' (a hint to the album name). John Myung continues to supply basslines that keep up with Petrucci's insane riffs and lead parts, unlike most bassists who tend to play a considerably less amount of notes in every nanosecond. Finally, James LaBrie is on a huge return to form. He almost hits the kind of notes that we havn't heard from him since the amazing best-selling Awake, and is consistent and engaging throughout, something that is difficult to do in such albums where songs exceed 8 minutes at least half of the time, and also exceed 15 minutes as if it's completely normal. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics on this album surprised me alot. Just from listening rather than fully understanding and researching the meaning of the lyrics, it is clear to see that there is a certain degree of fantastical lyrics (not quite Dragonforce, thank goodness), involving topics such monsters, vampires and the such, which is very unlike Dream Theater, Images And Words back in 1992, seemed to deal almost exclusively with very real events, Pull Me Under being about the unfrotunate tendancy for death to strike tragically and unexpectedly, Another Day being about John Petrucci's father and his struggle with cancer, and even the titles (Learning To Live, Take The Time) suggest deeper themes about life which are much less common on Systematic Chaos. However, I must mention Constant Motion, Repentance and Prophets Of War, which are about Mike Portnoy's OCD, Mike Portnoy's battle with drink and drugs and successful experience with the Alcoholics Anonymous program, and the subject of war respectively, all very real events also. So thankfully, Dream Theater havn't completely lost that meaningful and powerful element to their songs. But unusually, the real epics on the album, The Ministry Of Lost Souls and In The Presence Of Enemies especially, are the most epic despite of their fantastical themes, unlike say, Octavarium, with the epic Sacrificed Sons and Octavarium very much 'closer to the heart', to use the title of a Rush song:) Compliance with the lyrics to the music is however perfect, with the quiet and reflective Repentance matching perfectly with the lyrics referenced from This Dying Soul (Hello mirror/So glad to see you again my friend/It's been a while), and the lyrics and theme of Constant Motion matching with the crazy riffs and chaotic true progressive instrumental section complete with a ten out of ten keyboard solo from Rudess. Finally, I must mention James LaBrie who returns to form and delivers all these lyrics perfectly and captures melody possibly like never before in Forsaken, Prophets Of War and The Ministry Of Lost Souls. // 9
Overall Impression: 01. In The Presence Of Enemies Pt.1 - unusually quick and upbeat start to an album, very comparable to The Door from Neal Morse's new album Sola Scriptura, with a typical show of instrumental diversity in the first 5 minutes of instrumental mayhem. The last 4 minutes displays James' return to form brilliantly; his vocals are top notch. The song finishes with a very nice unison from Petrucci and Rudess, finishing abruptly to be followed quickly by.
02. Forsaken - begins with some 5/4 piano by Rudess and then quickly breaks into a very typical riff which is somewhere between DT's Train Of Thought album, a riff from Metallica's black album and an simple Evanescence riff. This will be the second single from the album and it is very 'sinlge-worthy' although unfortunately not overly progressive, but very beautiful and in all honesty, a very good song. The chorus however, powers over any other part of the song but is enough to make it worth a listen every time around.
03. Constant Motion - begins with the most sick riff by Petrucci then joined by the rest of the band after 8 riducuously complicated bars of 8/8, 13/16, 15/16, 6/8, and a whole range of other riduculous time signatures. Fortunately the rest of the song is in 4/4 and a little less confusing and more engaging on first listen. The theme riffs to the verses and chorus are so catchy and brilliant, and the song moves between something that is a little more Metallica than completely DT but with a crazy progressive instrumental which Metallica would never come close to. Petrucci's solo lacks a little substance here although it will grow on you to a very respectable level, Rudess' solo is possibly his best, ever, with a change in riff to the theme riff (which is so brillant rhythmic and catchy) and lightning-speed movements from one side of the keyboard to the other, every note blends into the other, almost if he was using his continuum!
04. The Dark Eternal Night - another fantastical song lyrical, this is where Petrucci and Portnoy really shine. The crazy beginning of the song switches between about 5 different riffs, rather like any song from TOT, but this is SO much more engaging and so brilliantly rhtyhmic thanks to some top-class drumming from Mike Portnoy. The song is very clever throughout, and the verses are very sing-along, but ruled mainly by Mike Portnoy in a growl which is the closest thing DT have ever come to death metal. The instrumental section is comparable to The Dance Of Eternity or Endless Sacrifice, insanely dynamic and ridiculously technical, with one of the fastest riffs I have ever heard towards the end. This is layered over the top with a Petrucci Solo which is simply inhuman.
05. Repentance - the first song designed to be a fairly quiet and an ultimately reflective dynamic throughout. The song is split very distinctly into two parts, the 8th and 9th steps of the Alcoholics Anonymous suite. The first half is mainly lyrical and is a very toned-down This Dying Soul, also featuring the spoken 'mirror' section from This Dying Soul. The opening guitar is identical to the clean guitar preceding the verse of This Dying Soul. The second half is a beautiful guitar solo, followed by a series of quotes all intertwined rather like in Honor Thy Father. The quotes are from a series of famous musicians such as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Mikael Akerfeldt, Steven Wilson and other friends of DT. Cleverly, the final quote 'Will you forgive me', leads into a melodic but slightly monotomous section, which finishes with quotes from the AA program, and with Mike Portnoy, 'The truth is the truth, so all you can do is live with it'.
06. Prophets Of War - this song IS very 'Musey', but that is not a bad thing! DT and Muse do work very well together. The song is a little cheest though it is of course a very serious and real topic. I think this may be the first song by DT where LaBrie comes in at the very beginning alongside a synth riff comparable to Muse's 'Take A Bow'. The chorus sounds like something off of Muse's 'Origin Of Symmetry' but is defninetly DT, and couldn't quite be a Muse song striaght off, so don't panic yourself if you weren't a fan of Never Enough. For me, this song did tend to die fof quickly though, but it's still listenable, just not at times quite as exciting/emotional/enjoyable as the other songs on this brilliant album.
07. The Ministry Of Lost Souls - my favourite Dream Theater song ever. I had a feeling about this song from the moment I heard the 10 second clip from the Systematic Chaos Promo. It's full of diversity, beautiful guitar and lyrical/voice work aswell as just being a simply superb song. LaBrie and Portnoy have really found the meaning of melody and harmony with an amazing bit of vocal work in the beautiful build-up to the chorus, 'Living in a world without you, Is living in no world at all'. The melody really does the wonderful lyrics justice. I have not heard any Dream Theater fan but this song down yet, as an individual track, it's just perfect in every way. It will make you cry if you've just broken up with a partner or lost a family member. I thought it might be fair to warn you. The song is simply beautiful and one of my thre favourite songs ever, and the best song to be written this year!
08. In The Presence Of Enemies Pt.2 - this song is not quite as epic as the last tracks from the last 2 albums (In The Name Of God and Octavarium), but Octavarium would have been difficult top because it is epic beyond epic, it's something else completely! The song is broken into three parts as you will realize, although the song plays as a complete piece and also features a brilliant tempo change towrds the end to create a reprise of the 'theme' from the beginning of In The Presence Of Enemies Pt.2. This song also has the merits of brilliant diversity and use of dynamics. It includes everything encompassed by the first 7 songs and really puts those elements to work! Upon the first few listens, the song will leave you slightly disheartened possibly as it finishes the album and isn't hugely epic, but it will grow you when you actually know 'what you're listening out for'.
Although unfortunately, Dream Theater are yet to create another hugely groundbreaking album like Images And Words, or show the mainstream scene the meaning of progressive metal and show up Trivium and all the other useless bands, this album, as I have said, is a progressive masterpiece and belongs right up there with the most innovative and brilliant albums this year, alongside the equally superb 'Paradise Lost' by Symphony X and 'The Blackening' by Machine Head. Enjoy! // 9
Greged, on june 12, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: I'm not usually one to go and buy something the day it comes out, but when the release date for Dream Theater's newest masterpiece was announced, I saved the date. It turned out to be worth it. I didn't really know what to expect from this album until Constant Motion was released in late April. I liked the song, but I knew that it had to be just a little taste of what was to come. For this album, the 5 geniuses continued their tradition of creating incredible music. Systematic Chaos generated a happy medium between the aggressive Train Of Thought metal and the softer, progressive Octavarium sound, and I think it was a great combination that can appeal to a wide fan base. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics for this album in my opinion are what set it apart from their other albums. They (John Petrucci) decided to really go all-out fantasy for this one. In every Petrucci-written song, there's a dark story. In The Presence Of Enemies talks about rising up for battle, dark heretic masters, and slaughtering the damned. That last section of Part 2 is maybe a little too dark, with the twisting of the Psalm 23 and all the evil-sounding stuff, but I admire him for making such a drastic lyrical change with much success. Forsaken is about a vampiress claiming a victim, and The Dark Eternal Night talks about a monster that haunts a town. The Ministry Of Lost Souls, however, is not like the others. It is about a drowning person too afraid to reach out to be saved by another. After the person drowned, the other is devastated and can't go on without him/her. At the end, the dead person brings the soul of the living person across to "paradise", and they're together again. This is more of an uplifting song; somewhat a relief from the darkness of Petrucci's other songs. Mike Portnoy's songs all have great lyrics too, be it his OCD(Constant Motion) or his newest installment in the Alcoholics Anonymous Suite, Repentance. Many were disappointed with this track, saying it isn't aggressive like the preceding movements. I think it's perfect, because when they go to play all of these live in succession, I'd rather have all of them alive afterwards. Last but not least, James LaBrie's anti-war Prophets Of War surprised me. I am used to Dream Theater's political songs being more neutral(The Great Debate) rather than taking one side, but it's yet another lyrically ballsy track that makes this album great. // 9
Overall Impression: 01. In The Presence Of Enemies, Pt. 1 - this song is part one of Dream Theater's newest edition to their collection of 20+ minute epics. It starts off as an instrumental with the usual odd-time riffs(one of which was very similar to one in Sacrificed Sons) and blazing-fast Petrucci-Rudess unisons, then goes guitar ballad before mellowing out for the vocals to come in for the second section of the song, Resurrection. It builds up to the end with another crazy unison, and then ends with the sound of wind, creating much anticipation for Part 2.
02. Forsaken - this song begins with some soft piano before being interrupted by the rest of the band. It is a great song, definitely a little eerie with it's vocals and lyrics. I did find a few similarities between this song and "Stream Of Consciousness". In both songs, Petrucci has a Malmsteen-esque guitar solo, and the intros and outros for each song are similar, in that they are played by a single instrument. This is a pretty sweet song.
03. Constant Motion - this song I think would be better to me if I had heard it for the first time with the rest of the album. it's early release sort of made it grow old to me. Nevertheless, it's still a good song. Some intricate riffs with odd time as usual, but, my first impression was that the vocals sound very Metallica-esque, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The guitar solo is amazing as always.
04. The Dark Eternal Night - finally Dream Theater made a song that can easily be called their heaviest. Very dark, as the title implies, and it goes on after you think it's done, with an even heavier, dirtier riff. The solo section is great, and I enjoyed watching the in-studio video of them playing it. One of my two favorites on this album.
05. Repentance - Mike Portnoy's latest chapter in the AA saga continues with this slow ballad. Included are movements VIII and IX, Regret and Restitution, respectively. It begins with music from This Dying Soul, and features Portnoy singing a line from that song before James LaBrie comes in. The general theme is forgiveness, and the song features guest voices, who are various friends of Portnoy's getting things off their chest and asking for forgiveness. It's a good song, a break from the previous three fast, aggressive DT songs in the AA Suite.
06. Prophets Of War - this is James LaBrie's usual political-themed song. The lyrics are anti-war, but he manages to do it as to not be overly negative. He states his beliefs in a non-extreme way, which is better to not offend some people who may disagree. My first impression was that the beginning sounds a lot like Never Enough from Octavarium. The chords as well as some of the rhythms are very similar. The riffs are very powerful and the fan chanting adds to the meaningfulness of the lyrics, as well as the random Freddy Mercury background high note vocals from Portnoy. Those make me laugh after watching him record them on the documentary. Good song.
07. Ministry Of Lost Souls - this is my other favorite song from this album. It starts off with a powerful synth ballad with heavy guitar power chords. It then goes into a melodic acoustic guitar section for the vocals to start in. It then becomes a slow ballad with meaningful lyrics that tell a very appropriate, fitting story. The instrumental solo section is amazing as always; Petrucci's guitar solo actually melted my face off the first time I heard it, but it was worth it, even though I no longer have a human face. This is another one of Petrucci's masterpieces; up there with "Metropolis Pt.1" and "In The Name Of God".
08. In The Presence Of Enemies, Pt. 2 - continued from track 1, Part 2 picks up right where Part 1 left off. With a windy bass and piano intro and the darkest lyrics Dream Theater has ever recorded, this song is one of the greats. The third section, Heretic, is all about serving a dark master, and uses a very eerie sounding chord progression. The fourth section, The Slaughter Of The Damned, is maybe a little too dark for me, but I still like it. James LaBrie makes the dark lyrics sound so freaking awesome. It then proceeds to The Reckoning, the standard insane instrumental, and then Salvation, the final piece to the puzzle.
This album was all I expected it to be and more. It's impossible to say if it's better or worse than other DT albums, because the sounds and styles are so different on each one, and because they're all so damn good. However, one thing I was kind of disappointed they did was stopping the constant flow of album to album. They ended that by making Octavarium come full circle with itself, which I guess is fitting. I would recommend buying the Special Edition with the DVD, because the documentary is very well-made as well as very humorous. If someone stole my copy of this album, I would probably have to rise up with a vicious blade and overflow my cup with his blood. // 9
unregistered, on june 30, 2007 1 of 11 people found this review helpful
Sound: I might like this if I had never heard Dream Theater before; however, being a very big fan, I was supremely dissapointed. Just like Octavarium, Systematic Chaos does nothing but detract from the superb musicianship that used to be Dream Theater. They've settled for simpler song structures and all around simpler, and definitely uninteresting music. Save for the instrumental sections. Most of the verses, choruses, bridges, etc, were just bland. The instrumental section of Dark Eternal Night was the only part of the CD that I completely and thoroughly enjoyed. // 6
Lyrics: Dream Theater lyrics used to be interesting and full of symbolism. Most of the songs on the past 3 or 4 albums have been about nothing but "isolation." They are running short on ways to describe the feeling of isolation, and should have stopped that topic after The Glass Prison (awesome song). These lyrics seem totally uninspired, much unlike songs such as "learning to live" "take the time" "voices" and "change of seasons." I really wish they'd quit writing these cliche rock pieces of crap. // 3
Overall Impression: It's just not worth it. Just go get scenes from a memory, awake, images and words, and six degrees. they are all better in every aspect than Systematic Chaos. I come to you as a man who really really wanted dream theater to pull through with this one. I was skeptical after train of thought, but forgave them because it was their heaviest effort and they wrote the entire thing in 2 or 3 weeks. Then Octavarium reared it's ugly head and I got a bit scared. Systematic Chaos may be the nail in the coffin for Petrucci and the boys. They aren't even progressive anymore. It's time to crown new kings of prog. // 5
Metal_link111, on september 17, 2007 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: It was in 1989, when Dream Theater's debut release When Dream and Day Unite, sent a large ripple through the heavy metal scene of the '80s. Since the band first formed in 1985, the prog-metal quintet has composed an extensive and highly original collection of music that continues to maintain their stable 22-year history. Dream Theater's latest release Systematic Chaos marked their first with new label Roadrunner Records and comes 2 years after their previous album release Octavarium in 2005. Drawing on narratives about religion, war and mystery, Systematic Chaos is a prime example of the band's determination to adopt more unique and modern sounds, enhancing their reputation as one of the most respected groups in the prog-metal scene. And while the band does use new methods, long-time Theater fans will be pleased the band continues to produce lengthy songs, with the longest stretching at a perfect sixteen and a half minutes. While for some this can seem excessively long, length, technical ability and originality are fundamental to the progressive metal genre, it is a long song that distinguishes the masters from the amateurs. There is no doubt that Dream Theater are artists in their profession, every sound is perfectly sculptured to fit with another even if initially they appeared not to work together. And while the band has generally been recognised as a prog-metal, the adoption of new and more modern styles gives each album a new flare. // 8
Lyrics: The album starts with the track In the Presence of the Enemies Pt. I, a nine minute song that proves a worthy opener to the album. While the song appears to move into a heavier sound there is a gradual shift into a blues-sounding riff that allows vocalist James LaBrie to contribute another instrument, his voice. LaBrie acts as the perfect storyteller, narrating stories riddled with themes about religion, war and blind faith and doing so with admirable professionalism, that is, not trying to overcomplicate the use of his vocals. While the album opens with a fantastic track, there is an unfortunate dent in the album's overall style. Forsaken, the second track on the album, sounds more like an overly produced pop song made for the purposes of commercialisation than a song true to the aspects that characterise the group. And while it seems difficult not to ignore the presence of Roadrunner Records, a company that has surged in popularity and profit over the past few years, the songs irritating repetition and simplicity seems an unusual (perhaps forced) direction. Despite this however, songs such as Constant Motion, Repentance and In the Presence of the Enemies Pt. II overshadow the negatives of the album standing out as the more enjoyable additions. Musically it appears the level of creativity still continues within the band, despite their long history. And while it is difficult to isolate one member as the 'best' in the group, it must be mentioned that, in my opinion, drummer Mike Portnoy and keyboardist Jordan Rudess were perhaps the best performers on the album. Rudess' 60s-style rhythm combined with Portnoy's vibrant drumming on the opening track standing out the most. // 7
Overall Impression: Overall, while the album doesn't move too far from the conventional styles of the progressive metal genre (apart from two songs) it is an album worthy of a genuine listen. Newcomers, like most others, are perhaps better off steering towards Dream Theater's back catalogue (Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, Images and Words) to experience the prime of the groups career, yet at the same time, Systematic Chaos is perfect as well if not purely for the band's ability to continue their legacy. The album's musical and thematic features make it a positive addition to the band's discography, a recommended listen for those eager to experience a new (and long) musical journey. // 7
petrucci_owns86, on december 03, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: This is a progressive metal album by the band Dream Theater. The sound is actually more modern and mainstream sounding than some of their other albums, like Scenes From a Memory and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. The album doesn't really have a story to it, although the first and last tracks are related and share the same story. If you combine the two parts it would be 25:38 in length. Three songs out of the eight clock in at over ten minutes. Athough this may be a little more mainstream sounding for DT, it's still a strong effort. // 9
Lyrics: Many of the lyrics are fantasy-oriented on this album. John Petrucci shows a lot of imagination on these lyrics, particularly on "In the Presence of Enemies" and "The Dark Eternal Night". He wrote these songs and two others, "Forsaken" and "The Ministry of Lost Souls". James LaBrie performs very well on this album, one of his better performances in DT studio album history. Drummer Mike Portnoy sings a little too much, though.
01. In The Presence Of Enemies - Part 1 - This track kicks off the album with what I believe is a keyboard/guitar unison. It's a great song, LaBrie doesn't come in until after the five minute mark. Some incredible soloing work here. Nine minutes long.
02. Forsaken - starts with an interesting piano section, then kicks into a badass riff. Great solo by John Petrucci here.
03. Constant Motion - awesome guitar riff that starts the song. DT actually ventures into a Liquid Tension Experiment-esque fusion section in the middle of he song. Cool solos by Jordan Rudess and John Petrucci.
04. The Dark Eternal Night - incredibly heavy opening riff, one of the heaviest I've ever heard Petrucci play. Blast beats have been present on previous DT songs, but on this one Mike Portnoy makes them particularly prominent. Distorted vocals don't go with this song, or any other DT song for that matter, so that's one of the few dissapointments of this song. But if you can get past that, you'll find out that this is a great song.
05. Repentance - Part IV of drummer Mike Portnoy's Alcoholics Anonymous Suite. Fairly mellow, but has a great John Petrucci guitar solo. Many famous musicians, including Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Jon Anderson (of Yes), appear on this song making apologies. Chris Jericho also appears. I'm dissapointed that someone like Satch or Vai couldn't contribute a solo to this song. Overall, this song isn't all that great, because the last three minutes are occupied by just the same riff over and over and over again.
06. Prophets Of War - weak. Totally mainstream. My least favorite song on the album and possibly my least favorite DT song of all time. Addresses the issue of the war in Iraq.
07. The Ministry Of Lost Souls - incredible. The band recovers from the failure of the previous track with this masterpiece. Around 15 minutes long, with an ingenious instrumental section. This is my second favorite song on the album. The outro solo gives me the chills.
08. In The Presence Of Enemies - Part 2 - this + Part 1 = best song on the album. Period. This combo is also one of my top five DT songs of all time. This is what Dream Theater is all about, right here. // 9
Overall Impression: Compared to other albums by Dream Theater, this one is right around the middle. It packs some awesome moments ("In the Presence of Enemies", "The Dark Eternal Night", "The Ministry of Lost Souls"), but also fails ("Prophets of War"). Compared to Paradise Lost by Symphony X, which was released the same month, Systematic Chaos isn't as good. If this album were stolen or lost, I would buy it again. It's still a good effort by Dream Theater. // 9
Colohue, on march 04, 2008 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: With the new label a lot of people expected a new sound and, in tracks like 'Prophets of War' they have nothing that sounds fairly modern from Dream Theater. However, the majority of the tracks are the same style we've come to know and love from Dream Theater. 'In The Presence Of Enemies' is something fairly new from Dream Theater. It begins as something of an overture to the song itself. From the lick that begins it all to the soft, mellow little piece before the interchange. It all acts as a sign of things to come. In the more relaxed sections we can hear Petrucci and Rudess working in close harmonisation. This is not unique, but still as affective as it was during Scenes From A Memory. When the heavy beat kicks in there is a quiet litle build before it, showing seperation from the rest of the song up until that point. From there the song takes off, and you are simply dragged along with it. The sounds that continue are an interesting range of music. Forsaken is a fairly typical metal song as current metal seems to go, but that subtracts nothing from the song itself. The harmonisation of guitar and keyboard works well once again, while the bass defines the bulk of the song. Portnoy's drums are mainly used to lead the rest of the band in this song. Constant Motion is also quite typical metal, but in a way that suggests that the band were in a very relaxed and typical frame of mind at the time. Dark Eternal Night is somewhat different. It has a fairly long intro which doesn't provide much in the way of tension. The song continues in much the same way, without much to it, but still a fair song. You know a lot of work has gone into the beat and the riffs, but you can't really feel it in my opinion. Repentance has a slow start with a riff from 'This Dying Soul.' The beat changes seemlessly, giving us something interesting and new. Something that, though relaxed, shows a deeper meaning to itself that keeps a listener interested. Prophets Of War is not something usually heard in the Dream Theater songbook. The chords and style do not seem to be typical in Dream Theater, but this allows the drums to come into closer prominence. The change of voice later on for a bridge is not a common occurence. However, what with the new label, the band seems to have been given much more leave to experiment, and they have. I do very much enjoy this song. Ministry Of Lost Souls is another favourite and is again fairly unique. The sound begins very sad and emotional, and keeps that feel going for it's entirety. // 9
Lyrics: James LeBrie has always been gifted at fitting his lyrics to the music being played. Especially considering those lyrics are very rarely his own. This shows once again in Systematic Chaos. In most of the songs he manages to either avoid the majority of the heavy sound or he simply cuts through it to make himself known. He chooses the correct times to do each. In Forsakes he tends to mostly avoid it, while in In The Presence Of Enemies, he makes his voice stand alone, which helps to drive the song itself. In Dark Eternal Night he tries an effect on his voice, which I thinks works very well until the point where the effect is gone. The multiple voices works okay, but not perfectly due to the scarcity of them. In Repentance also the changes in voice come randomly and unexpectedly. Often this subtracts from the song itself. Prophets Of War does well, simply giving away the lyrics for a bridge keeps the listener paying attention, as the song is quite similar for the majority of it. Generally the album is sung quite well, though I believe James LeBrie, as the singer of the band, should stick to the majority of the singing himself. // 8
Overall Impression: I originally bought this album simply because it was new, but it has rapidly become one of my favourite albums. The major reason being In The Presence Of Enemies. It really stands out on it's own. Forsaken is also quite gripping for me, while Constant Motion works in the opposite way to reach the same affect. The general feel of the album differs in some areas. The feel fluxuates, but generally it sticks to a war-based theme. Between man and man but also between good and evil. All however, is about the affect it all has on man itself. // 9
Paper Snowman, on june 08, 2007 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: 01. In The Presence Of Enemies, Pt.1 - is what Dream Theater kicks off the album with. The song begins with an instrumental bang. There are some great riffs, and Petrucci is shredtastic. After 2 minutes, the song slows down, and is very majestic sounding, although still retaining it's dark quality. Petrucci gives time to admire his tone, while Rudess has some arpeggios. At about 5 mins. Labrie starts singing. The lyrics are dark and haunting. Shredding resumes at the very end of the song.
02. Forsaken - is a good song. It starts out like a light ballad with piano. I really like James's voice in this song, although sometimes you can't understand what he's saying. Once this song gets kicking, I would not call it a ballad at all. Rudess does some strings, and Petrucci has a good rhythm. His fills are more impressive than the relatively short solo.
03. Constant Motion - in my opinion, is the weakest song on the album. The lyrics are pretty bad, and Labrie really annoyed me in this song. The only part that is slightly interesting is about 4-5 minutes in. Here the song gets progressive, but then goes downhill at 5 minutes again. Rudess has a little solo, but nothing too special.
04. The Dark Eternal Night - is growing on me. I hated this song when it came out as a single. But now I think I've started to appreciate the really nice riffs in this. The voice effect is a little cheesy, but it fits okay with the song, and is not overused. It's a heavy song. Portnoy really shines in this one, and left me awestruck. The only thing I didn't like in the song was aroun 4:30 where Rudess tries to pull of the ragtime piano like in "Dance of Eternity" of of SFaM. It doesn't fit with the song, and is too erratic. At 6 minutes, Petrucci solos with his wah on, and it compliments the song well.
05. Repentance - is the 3rd longest song on the album, at 10:43. It is the lightest song on the album, but by no means happy, inspiring, uplifting, joyful, whatever. It's a very slow song, and most resembles Pink Floyd, like "Shine on You Crazy Diamond." At 4:40 Petrucci has a very nice melodic solo, very David Gilmour-influenced. Then the song includes voice clips by guest artists like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Neal Morse. Very cool!
06. Prophets Of War - is a really good song. I can't say too much about it, it just is a really solid song. One special thing about this song is that the chants on this song were done my Dream Theater fans who lined up outside the studio to meet Mike Portnoy and record the parts. It's not a spectacular song, and not impressive, but Prophets of War is a solid song with meaningful lyrics.
07. The Ministry - of Lost Souls is one of my favorites. At almost 15 minutes long, this song has a lot of chances to be one! It starts out with a soul-wrenching melody on strings and nice heavy chords by JP. Then it goes acoustic and is nice and progressive. Labrie comes in on the acoustic part and does a good job. The song then gets heavier, but still melodic, with some piano interludes. Petrucci's slow solos are beautifully haunting, and send shivers down my spine. At 7:30 the song really picks up with the kind of rhythm reminiscent of staccato power chords off of Fatal Tragedy or Overture 1928. Then keys and guitar have some great unison solos, ending that section with a technical masterpiece. Then back to the main melody, with some more Labrie. Petrucci ends the song with a nice, long, melodic solo.
08. In The Presence Of Enemies, Pt.2 - is a wonderfully bone-chilling song. The beginning is quiet, but anxious. The melody is phantasmal, and the shadowy lyrics are given a boost my Myung's simple but effective rhythm. At 4 minutes the song gets nice and heavy, and very dark, with phrases like Dark Master of Sin, the shadow will consume him, a presence from the dead, children of hell, etc. At 9:10 we have a long instrumental part, with great work by everyone (well, not Labrie). Petrucci shreds his heart out and Rudess gives a pretty technical solo. After that, the song echoes Pt. 1 for a bit. The end begins seeming like it will be a majestic, uplifting ending, until Labrie says Dark Master and the songs goes dark again. I kind of wanted a more majestic ending, but oh well. The final ending is beautifully mysterious though, with a crescendo that could bring out the Mr. Hyde in anyone. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics were a little too dark for me, darker than what Dream Theater normally puts out: "Dark master of sin," "cup of my enemies blood," "slaughter of the damned." Most of the lyrics told a good story and were thoughtful though. Labrie sounded good. The only song on which the lyrics absoutely sucked was "Constant Motion." // 7
Overall Impression: Overall, I thought this album was very good. I might have wanted some more upbeat songs on there, something like Take the Time or even an actual ballad, but this album was extremely dark. (Well, from what Dream Theater normally puts out.) I still think this album tops Octavarium and Train of Thought. Personally though, I'm still looking for another album like Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. My favorite song on the album is "Ministry of Lost Souls." If it were lost or stolen, I'd buy it again for sure. // 8
CaptainSBDA, on june 08, 2007 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Well, well, "Systematic Chaos" has finally been released. I have been waiting for this album for four months, and I gotta say, I was pretty much pleased with it. From the sound of "Constant Motion" and "The Dark Eternal Night," most people were expecting another "Train of Thought", but those people were wrong. There is heavy stuff, but this is pretty much your standard prog album, not all heavy metal. While heavy metal does definitely appear (The Dark Eternal Night), it doesn't dominate the whole CD. On the first halves of "The Ministry of Lost Souls" and "In The Presence of Enemies Pt. II" it is actually qutie mellow. "Repentance" is also very mellow. Overall, a good sound, though not as good as the diversity of "Octavarium." // 9
Lyrics: Here's where the laughability comes in. Dream Theater have gone the way of European metal bands: fictional, fantasy lyrics. Whether it's vampires (Forsaken), ancient monsters (The Dark Eternal Night), or a story about a Heretic being taken in by a dark master (In the Presence of Enemies), overall it's fantasy lyrics all the way. It doesn't always stray that way; there's even an allegory on the current war (Prophets of War) that works like a "Sacrificed Sons II," except better. Overall, a little laughable on the lyrics. They aren't bad, just laughable. // 8
Overall Impression: 01. In The Presence Of Enemies, Pt. I - decent way to start off the album. Some people were telling me this was the best track on the album, I highly disagree. It's good, but definitely far from the best.
02. Forsaken - Great power ballad with an awesome riff, dumb lyrics. A vampiress takes a man in his sleep? Yeah, not DT at all.
03. Constant Motion - when I first heard it I liked it, now I'm kind of getting tired of it. Good choice for a single, though. In my opinion, this should have been the start of the album.
04. The Dark Eternal Night - tied for my favorite. While the lyrics are still dumb (Ancient pharoahs coming to life and haunting people), the metal is amazing and the distorted vocals are cool.
05. Repentance - here's where most DT fans will be let down. It's part of Portnoy's AA suite and it isn't metal. In fact, this is the most mellow song on the album. It's definitely hard to live up to the heavy metal amazingness of "The Glass Prison," but in my opinion this song is mind-blowingly amazing. The confessions in the middle are haunting.
06. Prophets Of War - another war song by James Labrie. It's way better than "Sacrificed Sons" though. People keep saying this sounds like Muse, it doesn't to me.
07. The Ministry Of Lost Souls - here's my other favorite on the album. It's mellower, yes, but it's amazing. The song rocks!
08. In The Presence Of Enemies Pt. Ii - big, big letdown. This song is really boring. A song with lyrics like this should be really, really hard. This song for the most part was more mellow. Very disappointing end.
Overall, it is a great album, definitely worth preordering. While it didn't live up to "Octavarium" (didn't expect it to) this CD is still amazing. // 9
dreamtheater91, on june 08, 2007 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: This is definately one of if not the best efforts from the band. The sound is a combination of Six Degrees and Octavarium, which is a very good thing. Here is my opinion of each track.
01. In The Presence Of Enemies, Part 1 - I have no idea why they split this song in half, but I'm not really complaining. Part 1 focuses on the instrumental part of the song. Very heavy and great solos from everyone.
02. Forsaken - a great, catchy song from the band. Beautiful piano work by Rudess, the intro reminds me of the exorcist. However, there's something about LaBrie's vocals in the chorus that turn me off. Still, a great catchy song. Amazing solo by Petrucci.
03. Constant Motion - one of my favorite DT songs ever. Amazing work from every bandmate. Portnoy sings as much if not more than LaBrie on this one. The songs about OCD, and it has a phenomanal solo from Petrucci, perhaps one of his best. My favorite part of the song is when Labrie's vocals go from side to side. It's a real head trip.
04. The Dark Eternal Night - heaviness aplenty here. The main riff is almost a clone of "In The Name Of God", but they change it enough to stay original. This has to be one of my favorite tracks on the album, but there are a few things that bug me. For one, the distorted vocals are corny. It would've been better to lay low on the distortion. Also, the riff for Petrucci's main solo isn't very good. Neither is his solo though, so it's a low-point. The random piano piece in it is priceless though, true musicianship.
05. Repentance - this track was actually a bit of a letdown for me. As it is a continuation of Portnoy's AA series, I was expecting it to be extremely fast, heavy, and furious. It starts off with a slightly altered riff taken from "This Dying Soul". It's definately the most mellow and soothing song on the album. Also, I think it takes entirely too long for the song to end. It just seems to drag on for 3 minutes with the exact same riff.
06. Prophets Of War - another one of my favorite tracks. It reminds me of "Never Enough" a lot, as it has a very upbeat, almost techno riff that starts it. The lyrics are very good, talking about how they're against the war right now. The coolest part of this track is that they invited a group of fans to sing the chants after the 2nd chorus.
07. The Ministry Of Lost Souls - an epic track in the truest sense. At 15 minutes long, it's quite a handful. It reminds me of "Endless Sacrifice", as it starts with the beautiful, acoustic verse, then has a catchy chorus, followed by an insane instrumental section.
08. In The Presence Of Enemies, Part 2 - I prefer this part of the first one. It has amazing lyrics of darkness and sin and how a man overcomes those desires. Many lyrics, all very great. The chorus is my favorite part, very dark, heavy, and downright catchy.
Overall, the sound is great. My only real complaint is Portnoy's bass drum. It seems a lot more punchy than it usually is. Still, a monumental album. // 10
Lyrics: These are great lyrics from DT. They are easily interpreted and appeal to everyone. They speak of darkness, temptation, sin, evil, and war. This could also be one of Labrie's best vocal performances on record. His vocals blend perfectly with the guitar and keys. He hits a lot of impressive high notes on this album. He even has a bit of a growl that sounds like it came from the "Awake" album at a few moments during songs. // 10
Overall Impression: Overall, this is a phenomenal album. Top notch and exactly what you'd expect from DT. Highlights of this album would be "Constant Motion", "Prophets Of War", and "In The Presence Of My Enemies, Part 2." A lot of people complained about Octavarium, which I personally enjoyed thoroughly. If you were one of those people, this album should more than suit your needs for good DT music. A 10 out of 10 and one of the best progressive albums I've heard in a while. // 10
calebrocker, on june 08, 2007 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: When I heard Dream Theater was making a new studio album with Roadrunner, I was excited to hear what they'd come up with. This album does not have any instrumental tracks, but this is a really good album. If I had to compare it to other DT albums, it would be probably Train of Thought with a mix of Images and Words or Octavarium. This album delivers progressive and heavy elements. It shows variousity, both musically and lyrically. The instrumental breakdowns are nothing short of phenominal, as usual. Though it's not a concept album, I found it better to listen to the whole thing at once, rather than listen to an individual track. I got the album, and I will be reviewing each track seperately.
01. In The Presence Of Enemies Pt. 1 - the opening track gets your attention as soon as you hear it. In the beginning, it's filled with phaser effects, odd time signatures, and awesome synth work. Later it changes into a more slow, melodic piece, then when James starts singing it goes back into the hard, type of sound. The chorus is really strong and driving and Portnoy does an excellent job at keeping the pulse of the song with lots of crashing. Rudess does an excellent job with the synth work, especially in the end of the song, where Petrucci and Rudess both play this shreddy lick. Great start for the album.
02. Forsaken - another really good song. It starts soft, then Petrucci starts going crazy with the pinch harmonics. Petrucci's guitar work is amazing in this song, especially during the solo. Portnoy's drums are sweet, as always.
03. Constant Motion - when I first heard this, it was weird because I instantly thought of Metallica's earlier sound. It sounds like something you'd hear on Justice or Master or Puppets. Labrie sings in a lower register in this song then he usually does, and he gets a sound that really sounds a lot different than we're used to. Petrucci uses lots of alternate picking, and it sounds awesome.
04. The Dark Eternal Night - the intro to this song is extremely heavy. Portnoy has a wicked awesome little drum intro before the vocals start. I think Petrucci and Portnoy do backing vocals during the verses, and they sound a lot different than James' usual high-notes. The chorus is really driving as well, and this is a really good song. I will also add that during the instrumental breakdown, Rudess plays a little ragtime!
05. Repentance - this is more of a slower song. If you hear it and you instantly think of "This dying Soul" or "The root of all Evil", Portnoy's done this on purpose. This song's about Portnoy's struggle with alcoholism, and is about the 8th and 9th steps of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Annoymous. This song's meaning is more lyrical than musical, so I'll get more into that later.
06. Prophets Of War - this song starts off with synth work. It's not a very heavy song, but still is a pretty good song, though I think it's one of the weaker ones on the album musically.
07. The Ministry Of Lost Souls - this is my favorite song on the album. The orchestral arrangements go really well with the song, and give it a really powerful feel. It's more of a balad, but the lyrics are great on it, and Rudess does a great job with the synth and keyboard work. During the instrumental breakdown, it speeds up, and it becomes more shreddy than soft. It has a reall good synth solo and Petrucci really shreds on this one. Great song.
08. In The Presence Of Enemies Pt. 2 - final song of the album. It starts off with a scary sounding intro. As the song progresses, it gets more melodic and a bit more lively. Then later it gets heavier, and then the instrumental breakdown comes, and it's really good. Awesome drum, keyboard and guitar work. // 9
Lyrics: Petrucci, Portnoy, and Labrie do a really good job with the lyrics on this one. They are deep, and they make you think, much like other DT work. One to note is Repentence, like I said earlier, it's written by Portnoy and his struggle with alcoholism. The middle section of the song includes apologies spoken by people such as: Corey Taylor, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Steven Wilson, Mikael kerfeldt, Jon Anderson, David Ellefson, Daniel Gildenluw, Steve Hogarth, Chris Jericho, Neal Morse. The lyrics are very poetic and very well written in every song. If you've ever listened to Dream Theater before, you know they are very deep, and this album is very good lyrically. // 9
Overall Impression: This is one of my favorite Dream Theater albums. At first, I didn't like it, but the more I listened to it, the more it grew on me. I really like the instumental breakdowns, and the lyrics. They're all really good songs. If I lost this album, I'd try my hardest to find it, even get on my hands and knees and look under the couch cushions. If it got stolen from me, I wouldn't be so mad, because someone else would be able to experience Dream Theater, and I'd get a new one. Any metal/prog./shred/DT fan should get this. I didn't regret it. // 10
tetsuma, on june 11, 2007 0 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: For a typical dreater sound, i'd say this albumn hits it spot on. Unfortunatly, most of the songs carry the same structure as some of their more recent arrangements,
intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-pre-chorus-chorus-outro. The three song which amazed me were Prophets of War, Dark Eternal Night and Constant Motion. Contant Motion gave me two impressions: they really were influenced by metallica, and they have progressed to something interestingly mainstream-ish (thanks epic). Prophets of War may have been the most interesting due to the original vocals and bassline, John Myung palys a steady fast paced bassline that reinforces the structure, and the vocals have a sweet slow and catchy rythm. Jamies LaBries falsetto is a nice addition also. Dark Eternal Night gave a strange impression, at first I laughed and skipped the song. Then about an hour later I came back to see how it plays out. To my amazement it is probably my favourite song on the record now. Unfortunatly not a song you'd show your friends in a hurry. Against what others thought, I didn't like In the Presence of Enemies Pt. 1 or Pt. 2. It gave me a headache to be honest! The first time I listened I thought, "ok this is nice", however afterwards the songs seems to drag on, and on. An unfortunate opening song compared to Awake, Six Degrees and Train of Thought. Their seems to be a story with dream theater albumns (Apart from Scenes From A Memory), more recent albumns to be honest. They tend to comment on contempory social and political affairs, which in my case all bands should keep their noses out of. // 7
Lyrics: Labrie is in top form, he explores a different type of singing with Constant motion and Dark Eternal night, which is most welcome. Also notable is Prophets of War, his dream like singing with an added falsetto is quite nice and different for a change. The political issues, as I talked about briefly before, seems to cliche' for any band. I honestly think they should have avioded commenting on these issues. However they made their sniggering at the iraq situation quite interesting in Prophets of War, for that they deserve a high-five. Portnoy's Repentence is quite comfronting, I very subtle contribution to the AA suite. Their isn't much to be said, it is a very strong track, which reminds me of Dream Theater's Awake days. // 7
Overall Impression: Unfortunatly, this albumn really didn't come out and strike me as a classic dream theater example of awesome musical talent. Instead this struck me as a more mainstream albumn, like they wrote these songs to attract a contempory audience, rather than being written for the sake of the music. A very dis-satisfying Dream Theater release. // 6
unregistered, on june 29, 2007 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Systematic Chaos is the latest installment in the Dream Theater legacy that has spanded almost two and a half decades. While the new album isn't as progressive as previous installments such as Octavarium and Train of Thought, but it still delivers the sound that diehard metal heads can't get enough of. The new album provides a mix of sounds that will suit any metal lover. THe first song of the album lives true to the classic sound of the progressive metal team of gods, that is dream theater. 'In the Presence of enimies part 1' provides the classic mix of the almost inhume keyboard skills of Jordan Rudess and the equally insane finger work of John Petrucci on the guitar. This opening track is, 50/50 between the instrumental work that was created during the Liquid Tension Experiment spin-off days and the complete band preformance that we expect from the album. Once again the band has managed to create what seems to be the perfect harmoney of vocals, drums, guitar, bass and keys and it is made all the more impressive by there constant timing changes that is also part of the progressive Dream Theater sound. The second song on the album 'Foresaken is the ideal song for thoses who like strong riffs mixed with some classic stlye Petrucci shrededing and the simple yet captivateing piamo riff lay down by Rudess though out the song. The vocal skills of James LaBrie will amaze even the most loyal of Dream Theater fans, on this track in particular he manages to kepp the melodic sound to his voice that fans down the years have come to know and love but still manages to inject a powerful and hard hitting vibe to the song. The most impressve song on the album is 'The Misisrty of Lost Souls', the hard hitting power chord intro mixed with the harmonic keyboard lays the base of the songs structre, this marathon of a song clocks in at almost fifteen minuets, makeing it the sencond longest on the album, the longest being 'In the Prescens of enimies part 2' wich clocks in at a mind boggaling sixteen and a half minuets. 'The Ministry of Lost Souls' has a stonr melodic feel to the song, the soothing vocals of LaBrie during the verse mixed with the accoustic guitar melody, sets up for the hard hitting power chords and electrrc melody of the chorus. The middel portion of the song is given over to a heavy and faster style than the rest of the song, this gives Petrucci and Rudess to strut their stuff and dazzel us with more mind blowing, fast paced skills. The timing chages again, are what gives this song and indeed the rest of the album its unique and original style of sound. The solo/interlude, leads incredibly well back into the slower paced and harder hitting power chord riffs that began the song, with the sootheing vocal work and excallent lyrics of James LaBrie added back into the mix, making this, bar far the most unique and impressive song on the album. // 8
Lyrics: No one can ever question James LaBrie's vocal tallent and lyric skills. This album just ferther cements him as one of metals most prolific singer/songwriters. The lyrics on this album all reflect diffrent things, there is no sence of a timelined story that is being told through this album, which makes this album diffrent from the ones that are being relesed today in the fact that each song is a diffrent stroy. Each song has a difrent story, the first and last song 'In the Presence of Enamies parts 1&2' have a very strong athiest feeling, with lines like 'Do you still wait for you God? ' and ' A final vision of salvation and resirection of a fallen man' it depics a very anti religion idea. The lyrics of these tracks, show casr LaBrie's outstanding vocal ability and how the band manage to harmoise his singing with the rest of the music, somthing they do better than anyone else in the industry. The track 'Foresaken' has very much the same attributes as 'In the Presence of Enamies parts 1&2', while this song dose seem to have more emphasis on the guitar, the lyrics fit in with astonishing ease. The main lyical song on this album is 'Prophits of War', the music of the song is all molded around the lyrics of James LaBrie, this song shows Dream Theater's social awareness and seems, like many songs to date, to be a direct stab at issues such as the Iraq war, although this is a common theme in music today, Dream Theater still manage to make it their own, LaBrie has a good mix of vocal style in this song, he has the synth assited interlude, the hard hitting chorus and the soothing and melodic verse. This song, more than any other shows LaBrie's outstanding lyrical talents. // 9
Overall Impression: All in all, I predict that this album will be one of the better metal albums of this year. Although some Dream Theater will be disapoited with the less progressive style that made Dream Theater the icons they are, the album is never the less, outstanding. The veriaty of metal that is presented on this album will garentee that there is somthing for all metal heads on this album. There is the fast paced, mindblowing speed metal style of the tracks 'In the Presence of Enamies' and the hard hitting riff lovers wet dream that is 'Foresaken' and 'Constant Motion' and them for thoses who prefer a more melodic aproach to the genre there is 'Repentance', 'Prophets of War' and 'The Ministry of Lost Souls'. This album provideds somthing for everyone, and is a wearthy installment to the Dream Theatre legacy and the band look set to continue there domination in what has truly become, there genre. // 9
unregistered, on july 09, 2007 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Musically, Dream Theater remains at the top of their game and the top of the prog-metal genre. Best in Class musicians who continue to stretch out exploring new avenues with each release and who are never content with the status quo. This of course means that many (narrow minded? ) people will criticize the "new" and wish the band released something like their "favorite" album of the past. Oh well, so much for the "progressive" in the progressive fan. // 10
Lyrics: Lyrically and vocally there are some challenges for me on this album (read on). However, watching the DVD (released with the Special Edition only) really helps put things in their proper perspective. I really appreciate the fact that DT cares so much about the fans to provide a "behind the curtain" view of the writing/recording process and really hope they continue to offer the bonus DVD in the future. Once again, DT leads the way with an enhanced way for the fans to further enjoy the band. // 8
Overall Impression: Now for the song reviews. In the Presence of Enemies 1 & 2 are very strong musically with the Overture portion setting the tone for the entire epic in a very traditional DT/Prog Rock fashion. Solid vocals with the story line/lyrics based on the excellent Priest manga series by Min-Woo Myung. If you read these stories, the song will be much more meaningful/powerful. Forsaken has the most potential for commercial success. Solid rocker start to finish. Kind of reminds me of Evanesence on steroids. Constant Motion, straight up DT heavy riffing/multi time signature special. I know I overplayed the pre-release of this song but now that I've given it a rest it's one of the best. Dark Eternal Night, super chunky 7 string guitar with crazy (think Dance of Eternity) instrumental break. This is still a tough song for me to get into. I despise all "cookie monster" vocals and never understand why bands with great singers (hello Opeth) feel the need to use this effect. Additional, these lyrics are just a little too corny for me. I know JP was writing lots of fictional/fantasy lyrics on this album but this is just too much. Repentance, another chapter in MP's 12 Step saga. Very rich musical textures and haunting spoken word overlay make this a nice moody tempo changer in the on-going story. Prophets of War, good solid song with fan participation (background vocal chants). Reminds me of what Muse could be if they brought they guitars out front and beefed up the instrumental breaks. Saving the best for last, The Ministry of Lost Souls is easily the best song on the disc. Very classical feel with emotional lyrics and melodies. This song will bring down the house every night when JP works through the 3 key change outro solo. // 9
Kadavreski, on july 12, 2007 0 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: Systematic chaos is a grand example of how bands can change and not alienate their fanbase, while keeping the same old sound. Why, you ask? Because it does exactly the opposite; it's almost a musical checklist of what not to do. Systematic chaos is Train of Thought 2.0; heavier, darker, and a lot more "roadrunner". The band's "sound" is still there, with instrumental sections still showing off all of the band member's prowess. At the time of writing this, the album has been out for quite a while, and was even leaked beforehand, so I've allowed it time to grow on me, like most fans suggest. However, it hasn't. All the enthusiasm I had for a new dream theater album is gone, and instead replaced with of disappointment. I appreciate that Dream theater do not let their label listen to the album before it's finished, so they can't tamper with their sound, so I can't accuse them of selling out. However, this album is a lot different to previous efforts, leading to almost a feeling of isolation. This is not a disgruntled fan's anger at a band for changing their sound; my CD collection is about as diverse as it gets, yet this is completely lost on me. // 3
Lyrics: The lyrics are mostly quite laughable, more so from song to song. Dream Theater hold a special place in my heart when it comes to lyrics (Songs such as "Voices", "Lie", and "Pull Me Under" being a few of the highlights), so you can imagine how I felt upon reading the lyrics to songs such as "The Dark Eternal Night" and "Constant Motion". "The Dark Eternal Night" is the story of an ancient terror, or perhaps lots of them. This song is perhaps the worst on the singing front. The singing does not fit the song at all, and even ruins it. "Constant Motion", which a decent and catchy song in itself, has lyrics on par with such classics as the nursery rhyme The wheels on the bus. Mike Portnoy claims it's about his OCD, which may be, but the lyrics hold absolutely no meaning. The great thing about Dream Theater songs is how poetic they are, and how you, and other fans, can find lots of meanings for very few lines. You don't get that feeling on this album at all, however, and without an explanation, most people would've written some songs off as meaningless. It's very, very disappointing, as on this front they could've been much better. You often get the feeling they've run out of ideas, with such cliches used, like selling your soul to the devil, or how we just HAVE to make a change to the world, and even, rather randomly, having a close encounter with a female vampire, and falling in love with it. Nothing stands out, it just sounds like the average topics metal bands choose from nowadays when out of ideas. Boring is a word I never thought I'd use to describe anything DT, but this is boring. Very, very, boring. // 1
Overall Impression: Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but this is an awful album. To answer the age old question, if it were lost/stolen, I wouldn't really care. I'd probably feel worse for the person who took it, if I felt flippant. It's unfair to compare this to any other DT effort, as it doesn't even come close, except to perhaps Train of Thought, and even then it falls short, lyrically and musically. There are some nice tunes I listen to every once in a while (Constant Motion and Repentance being my highlights, but even then), however, I honestly believe this album marks the "death" of Dream Theater; the inevitable decline most artists hit. So much for a new Images and Words! // 2
unregistered, on september 19, 2007 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: When they started out, Dream Theater were considered the most uncool, cool band in music. They're complex musical arrangements and odd time signatures were an acquired taste, and needless to say, were not extremely popular amongst the metalheads of the late 80's. I mean, thrash was on it's way out, in it's wake ushering in a whole new collection of mainstream rock and metal bands. Prog was hardly what metal fans of the time wanted to hear. Fast forward close to 25 years later. Dream Theater are now one of metals leading bands, not only in terms of nostalgia but also in their own relevance. When they released 'When Dream and Day Unite' in 1988, there's no possible way they could've imagined they'd still be around 22 years later, nevermind as popular as they've become. With Systematic Chaos, Dream Theater seem to have delved further into the simpler approach to music, for lack of a better word. The odd time signatures are still there, but are subtler and thus a little fresher. John Petrucci's relentless riffage is still there, along with his tremendously speedy solos, but are structured differently, better if you will. The high pitched vocals of James LaBrie and vocal harmonies from Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci, the technical basswork of John Myung, the off beat drumming of Mike Portnoy, the godlike keyboarding of Jordan Rudess. All the elements of a Dream Theater record are still there, but they've now obtained the perfect blend of structure and strange arrangements, complexity and simplicity, subtlety and loudness.
The progressive influence is there from the get-go, on the first track 'In the Presence of Enemies Pt. 1. It's off beat, it's technical, five minutes before the vocals come in, so and so forth. Exactly what we've come to expect from DT.
What follows is almost surprising. 'Forsaken' is a dominantly melancholy piece of music, albeit a brilliant one. there's very minute progressive elements here and there, it's more of a soft rock song, which takes it's influence from bands like Evanescence and Black Album/Load/Reload-era Metallica. It's a certain calm before the storm, as track 3 is undoubtedly the albums most metallic song. it's thrashy, it's groovy, it's riffy. it's got some balls. Look for the Metallica influence in the verse riff.
'The Dark Eternal Night' you will find is where Dream Theater prove they're not falling completely away from the genre they made popular again. The first few minutes of the song explore in utterly incredible groove in one of the most evil riffs ever to grace the earth, littered with distorted vocals and seemingly unending pick and fingerwork, before exploding into a progressive frenzy, switching from standard prog, to funk, back to prog, to metal, to jazz, back to prog, before finally taking us back to the regular song itself all in the space of about three minutes! it's classic DT
Mike Portnoy's AA suite started with 'The Glass Prison' from 'Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence', followed respectively by 'This Dying Soul' from 'Train of Thought' and 'The Root of All Evil' from 'Octavarium'. On 'Repentance' he continues this. It's a soft and mellow composition, which soothes as it despairs, using the spoken word confessions and apologies of other musicians in connection with Portnoy of their regrets in life. It constantly interchanges between the major and minor keys, all guitars played in clean aside from Petrucci's solo. It has a very epic feel to it; it's layered with immense vocal harmonies, and extravagant bass. it's what the album needs at this point, a comedown at sorts.
Track number 6 is one of the albums highlights, and definitely a potential single. 'Prophets of War' takes an amazing evident influence by bands such as Muse, considering the use of synth keyboards and falsetto vocal styles. Although not including a guitar solo and supposedly dry as far as layers go, it is still one of the records strongest songs, almost as thought it needs to be there. Dream Theater are known for their long (often falling over the 10 minute mark) songs, showcased on such fan favourites as 'Metropolis Pt. 1 The Miracle and The Sleeper', 'Instrumedley' and 'Octavarium'. Dream Theater, as with most of their records, explore this style of writing once again with 'The Ministry of Lost Souls', lasting for just short of 15 minutes. Despite it's seemingly dragging length, it is not a particularly complex piece, and has but three movements, two of which are virtually the same, switching from soft, to metal, and back to soft with the slightest hint of metal sifting into it. it's amazing nonetheless, and it's metal section is progressive, yet still easy to follow it, as if anybody could get into it. The album comes to an end with the 16 minute long 'In the Presence of Enemies Pt. 2', an obvious continuation of the albums opening track. It's a weird peace in itself. It feeds you in, slipping you through the proverbial hands of dementia, dominance and power. It almost seems like it will never end, like the listener is being drawn to connect with character in question with the song, as he feels trapped in his own personal hell. The end signifies his release, fitting as the listener is now released from such an incredible record that will surely sustain it's lasting power // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics on this record have taken a much more fictional stance than previous albums, identified on the tracks 'In the Presence of Enemies Pts. 1 and 2', 'Forsaken', 'The Dark Eternal Night' and 'The Ministry of Lost Souls'. Regardless of their dodgy movie/comic-esque subjects of the song, that on paper may look very silly to some people, they're still very clever. The 'In the Presence' series is a story of a man who has sold half of his soul before his death to a character labelled 'The Dark Master', the strongest theory amongst many other lyrical interpretations (although John Petrucci has stated in interviews that they lyrics are simply metaphors for a character struggling with his darker side). 'Forsaken', also written by John Petrucci, tells the story of a man who is visited in the night by a vampiress. She takes him to places of supposed wonder, yet all the while, as quoted by Petrucci himself, he's getting his blood sucked. 'The Dark Eternal Night' is yet another Petrucci penned lyric, which speaks of about a monster from long, long ago. Who's a pharaoh that comes and haunts a town, perhaps the most humorous of the fictional end of the lyrics.
'The Minstry of Lost Souls', however, speaks not of fictional creatures or monsters nor do it's characters have monikers much like in 'In the Presence of Enemies'. Instead, it speaks about 2 regular, for lack of a better word, characters, and is a story of a man who saves a woman from drowning, but in the process, he himself dies. The lyrics are spoken from both the perspective of the characters, and as a narrator, the central story of the song being of the woman wanting to meet the man who saved her, not able to go on with life following the incident. 'Constant Motion' is one of a remaining three songs that don't have a fictional story to them. Instead, interpretations reveal that the song is speaking of many psychological and psychiatric disorders, such as OCD, tourettes and bipolar disorder (thank you Wikipedia). 'Repentance' is written by Mike Portnoy, and as I mentioned before, continues the Alcoholic Anonymous suite which started with 'The Glass Prison' from 'Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence'. The lyrics are told from a more reflective point, like Portnoy is thinking over his regrets in life, realising that he must take them in stride if he is to overcome his disease. it's first lyric Hello mirror. So glad to see you my friend, it's been a while, is also the first lyric from 'This Dying Soul' from 'Train of Thought' the second song of AA suite. It also features spoken word contributions from other musicians, friends of Portnoy, speaking from the same view: regret, realisation, apology, etc. It also has a muffled and slightly distorted reading from the Alcoholics Anonymous book called 'The Twelve Promises'. Finally, 'Prophets of War' is practically speak-for-itself. It is a political song, a song of questioning, questioning on the reasons and causes of war, yet it doesn't attack any certain war, in history or ongoing, instead talks of war in general // 8
Overall Impression: To sum 'Systematic Chaos' up, it is probably the best album to offer someone who has just discovered Dream Theater. It is not too progressive or hard to follow as records such as 'Awake', not too heavy as evidenced on 'Train of Thought' and not too mellow much like records as 'Falling to Infinity'. Infact, it is a perfect and consistent blend of all three. As far as my opinion goes, this far surpasses the much overrated 'Images and Words'. John Petrucci shines as per usual, just check the main guitar solo for 'The Ministry of Lost Souls', Portnoy is at his possibly most technical point, yet doesn't overdo it, like on 'In the Presence of Enemies'. For the average Dream Theater plan, this record will please, but a lot of it may be a little unexpected. As I say, this record is best for a Dream Theater virgin, it puts all aspects of their music on offer: the heavy, the soft, the progressive and the downright weird. 22 years after their inception, I feel DT have finally come into their stride, even after people thought they would never surpass 'Images and Words'. One question remains though. If people they would never surpass 'Images' and, well at least in this reviewers eyes, they did with 'Systematic Chaos', will they ever find it in themselves to do it again? Heres to a new album in the coming future, and great hope they can wow us once more. // 10
ShadowsThatMove, on october 08, 2007 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: I love how Dream Theater choose between a variety of sounds and genres on this album. It's full of life, songs to make you feel chilled and then some tracks where you just want to jump about. It's really good to see that Dream Theater can still produce such good quality music. However some tracks are sounding like older songs which makes me wonder whether they're still as good as they were. // 9
Lyrics: The impression I got of these lyrics was that LaBrie hadn't really put a lot of effort into coming up with them. It seems all too boring to be honest, and it's something I've never said about Dream Theater before. However I must admit that the way LaBrie sings on this latest creation are far superior than to say, Train Of Thought or even Scenes From A Memory. // 6
Overall Impression: The album as a whole was incredible. The best songs on it by far are The Dark Eternal Night, In The Presence Of Enemies Pt. 1: I. Prelude / II. Resurrection and Prophets Of War. However there are much better albums to buy than this. Albums I'd suggest if you're looking for a good Dream Theater album to buy would be Train Of Thought or my favourite, Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence. I don't like how each song seems to have one point where it sounds like another song off of the album, it was a bit of a disappointment. I wouldn't recommend this album if you're new to Dream Theater. // 9
Junior#1, on november 03, 2007 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: This album was good but it was not even close to the incredible "Images and Words" album. As always, Dream Theater once again steps up to the plate and delivers but there isn't much in this album to be really impressed with as far as the music and sound goes. It's still great prog metal but it's nothing compared to the true capabilities of ever member of the band. Petrucci gives a few solos and incredible riffs but when you consider what he has done in the past, this is nothing. Portnoy shows some great drumming in the album but once again he has done better. Rudess doesn't seem to play as big a part on this album as he has in previous albums. Aside from "The Ministry of Lost Souls", there's not really much he does. Myung still seems to have an important bass role. Just as much as any of the other albums as well but I still feel that he has not yet showed us his true potential. // 8
Lyrics: I was impressed with the lyrics. Petrucci wrote a lot of really strange lyrics on this album but he wrote them well. Every line ties to the one before and after it. A lot of people seem to hate James LaBrie's vocals but personally I like his vocals a lot so I suppose it really depends on whether or not you like his voice. If you do then you should be impressed with him on this album but if not then you may be disappointed. // 10
Overall Impression: This is definitely one of Dream Theater's weaker albums but it's not too bad. It doesn't compare to "Images and Words" or "Train of Thought" but it is still quite a good album. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to Dream Theater's next album, which, rumor has it they have already started to work on. // 10
Jleggy12, on november 12, 2007 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Dream Theater have always been known to make things extremely complicated for themselves, and this album is no exception. This album is absolutely amazingly intricate and fiddly. The quintet of gifted musicians have pushed the bar out with this album. It is musical masterpiece! The first track is In The Presence of Enemies Pt. 1, The Pt. 2 concluding the album. It starts with a mind-blowing 4 minute instrumental, and the outro with the guitar and keyboard unison solo is a thing to behold. The next track, Forsaken, has great 7/8 keyboard riff to start and finish and is a nice little song, though the texture is a bit thin sometimes. Constant Motion is, in my opinion, the best song on the album. The Verse and Chorus are brilliant, Mike Portnoy's drumming is amazing throughout, and John Petrucci's F sharp phrygian solo is simply amazing. The Dark Eternal Night is perhaps the heaviest song the band has ever done. Needless to say, even though it is a new branch for them, they have pulled it off magnificently. A superb Intro riff, Chorus and Instrumental make a great song, And Jordan Rudess' Continuum Outro is amazing. I'm starting to run out of superlatives. Repentance is the latest part of Mike Portnoy's Alcoholics Anonymous suite, an ongoing set of songs about his experiences with alcohol. A brilliant chord progression at the end does get a little repetive though, and 11 minutes is a bit too long. Prophets of War is a quick fire song with one of the best main riffs on the album. The synthesiser opening works really well. Ministry of Lost Souls is a quarter of an hour long. Some people would not like this song because it is so long, however I think it is a brilliant song. The guitar lead melody is a great creation, though could be a bit shorter. In The Presence Of Enemies Pt. 2. One word: outstanding. // 10
Lyrics: Dream Theater have always had very well thought out lyrics, written by either Labrie, Petrucci or Portnoy. Personally John Petrucci's lyrics are the best for me. Notably the lyrics for Constant Motion, Repentance, Ministryof Lost Souls and In The Presence Of Enemies I think are the best. James Labrie comes in with another strong performance and does really well in getting the message from the lyrics across. // 9
Overall Impression: Out of progressive metal artists, Dream Theater have to be the first and foremost band in that genre you think of. The sheer difficulty of what they play becomes easy, when you watch them. In The Presence Of Enemies, Ministry Of Lost Souls and Constant Motion are definately the best songs on the album. If I lost I would have to buy it again. Definately worth getting. // 10
sock_demon, on april 24, 2008 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: I actually bought this album quite awhile ago, and to be honest, it's taking a lot of getting used to. From the very mainstream "Cosntant Motion" to the epic of In the Presence of Enemies Parts 1 and 2; Dream Theater's 9th studio album brings some new things to the table as well as reminiscing their classic sound. Part 1 opens with a great lick that I was eager to learn when I first heard it, and then going to a power-hungry power chord progression. Part 2 is much longer, having darker lyrics, like the ending to a shakespearean tragedy. But the music is still beautiful. but I love most on ITPoE part one and two is that they a classic retake on past music, but not off a different album. When Petrucci first plays those speedy diminished notes, well that's what we expect of him, right? Then we hear it again at the end of Part 2 and the theme from part 1 is repeated. This quality is really the epitome of dream theater's music as something to be enjoyed again and again. // 8
Lyrics: I found LaBrie's lyrics had a much darker tone overall in this album then that of Octavarium, and, Dare I Say It, Train Of Thought. The whole concept of a heretic and his/her dark master and the possession of this person's soul really underlines a darker side to dream theater. I found a small parallelism in Prophets of War to sacrifiiced sons off Octavarium in terms of overall feeling. Not the most appealing subject to my ears, but LaBrie makes it enjoyable. // 9
Overall Impression: Overall, not their best album, imo. Scenes from a Memory is still my favourite but it does have many good qualities, such as aforementioned reminiscing of past music on ITPOE part one and two. Didn't like constant motion: to mainstream (verse chorus, verse, chorus, etc. But I think Prophets Of War, Forsaken and ITPOE makes up for that. If this album was misplaced, I'd definitely buy it again, mostly because I have the non-special edition without the cool traffic light. but other than that, I'd get it again because my love of DT is just super colossal. // 9
Skullmage4, on july 03, 2008 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: This is the album that got me into Dream Theater and progressive music as a whole. And when I bought it, it changed my life, and the way I saw music. I had never heard any band play with such originality and virtuosity before. To the Dream Theater newcomer reading this to decide whether they should get into the band-the sound can basically be described as heavy metal, but with progressive influences such as longer songs, odd time signatures and classical/jazz influences as well. DT are amazing and this album is a good intro to the things that Dream Theater can do. But what the hardcore fans want to know is-how does it relate to other Dream Theater albums? Well, I suppose while many DT fans love both elements of the DT sound, many of them are really into the heavy Train Of Thought type 'balls out sound' shown on 'As I am', 'The Glass Prison' and 'The Root Of All Evil'. The other half are into the less heavy and more progressive stuff on Scens From A Memory and Images And Words. Well, Systematic Chaos does have a lot of ballsy stuff like Constant Motion and The Dark Eternal Night, but is more varied than Train Of Thought, with ballads like Repentance and Ministry Of Lost Souls along with the seemingly Muse-inspired Prophets Of War. Overall, this album does not have the same reliability as other Dream Theater albums. With Scenes From A Memory and Train Of Thought I can put the CD in my player and listen to it the whole way through, each song amazing. With this album, In The Presence Of Enemies Pt 1 is brilliant, Forsaken is pretty good, then the album starts to slide a bit, especially on the Dark Eternal Night, which has a seemingly pointless middle section. Repentance, In The Presence Of Enemies, and Forsaken are the standouts, although it would have been nice for In The Presence Of Enemies to be grouped as one track. This album is great, but some songs lack the 'wow' factor that every song on Octavarium had for me. // 8
Lyrics: Dream Theater are a great band lyrically, and I can't really find to much flaw with the lyrics. They are deep enough to look into and fit fantasticly well with the music. John Petrucci's 'In The Presence Of Enemies' is great and is the highlight of the album lyrically, although another honorable mention would be Mike Portnoy's Repentance, which is the fourth chapter in Portnoy's Alchoholics Anonymous Suite saga, which includes The Glass Prison, This Dying Soul and The Root Of All Evil. The lyrics in this song compliment the music's moody, hollow approah really well, and the guest voices add a lot of depth to the song. James LaBrie is a great vocalist, and his vocals are in great shape on this album. He knows when to step back and let the band play but also adds a great sonic dimension when he does sing. Overall, lyrically, this album is very solid, and the lyrics have a lot of depth, a rarity in metal. // 9
Overall Impression: Overall this album is a great piece of progressive metal, and the documentary that comes with it is suprisingly good. I love In The Presence Of Enemies, which is basically a showcase of how amazing DT are. However, The Dark Eternal Night, Prophets Of War, and Ministry Of Lost Souls are fairly average and stop this from getting a 10. This album is awesome, just not as consistent as I expect of DT. // 8
tryhonesty, on july 09, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: This is a very diverse album with many styles. It is bookended by parts one and two of the 25:38 epic "In The Presence Of Enemies." The album kicks off with a fast paced keyboard section followed by many time signature and musical style changes from the first part of "In The Presence Of Enemies." LaBrie also comes in sounding great. "Forsaken" is a track that seems to be pop mixed with metal. "Constant Motion" shows thrash influences and has a great solo. "The Dark Eternal Night" draws influence from metal band Pantera and contains the infamous Portnoy growls. "Repentance" is the ballad of the AA suite and contains Floydian influence and a great solo along with a voice section with many famous musicians including Jon Anderson, Steven Wilson, Daniel Gildenlow, and more. "Prophets Of War" is another poppish track which has a nice chorus and is an enjoyable listen. "The Ministry Of Lost Souls" is an amazing 15 minute ballad with amazing vocals and a heavy instrumental section that comes in at such a perfect time. If you like Sacrificed Sons from the Octavarium album, this is sort of a much improved version of it. Part two of "In The Presence Of Enemies" is very different from the first and is very dark and contains many musical changes. It is an amazing track. // 10
Lyrics: In this album, LaBrie has found his sound. He sounds very different here than ever before, but sings with a ton of power. His melodic vocals on "The Ministry Of Lost Souls" are breathtaking.Here is the reason some loathe this album. The lyrics can be embarassingly cheesy at moments. Especially in "In The Presence Of Enemies" and "The Dark Eternal Night." But I like to see it as them having fun with this album. // 4
Overall Impression: Many people cannot stand this release. However, I found this album to be a very fun and constantly entertaining ride. I don't really see why people dislike this album so much. 5 stars. If lyrics aren't a gigantic part of your enjoyability of music, than this will probably be a masterpiece for you. If lyrics are huge for you, you may want to think about this one for a bit. However, if you look past some of the cheese, this album is just mindblowing. // 9