Systematic Chaos review by Dream Theater

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  • Released: Jun 5, 2007
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (443 votes)
Dream Theater: Systematic Chaos
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Sound — 9
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.

Lyrics — 9
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.

Overall Impression — 10
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.

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