Systematic Chaos review by Dream Theater

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  • Released: Jun 5, 2007
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (443 votes)
Dream Theater: Systematic Chaos
3

Sound — 10
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).

Lyrics — 8
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.

Overall Impression — 9
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.

52 comments sorted by best / new / date

    cglb123
    distilledspirit wrote: Btw, In The Presence of Enemies was split into two parts because POrtnoy didn't want the album to end in a boring 30 minute song.
    That's not true at all. It was split up during post production. Portnoy wanted it to begin and end the album. He did not want to end the album with it because they did that with 8v, and he did not want to open with it because they did that with ACOS. Here's the interview:
    ...and I don't find the song to be the least bit boring imo.
    b101
    For some reason parts of the ministry of lost souls remind me of a bond movie...the outro especially although I can't think why. Still utterly amazing though
    Shreddin 4 Life
    vanhalenforever wrote: isn't theres some other guy singing in dark eternal night? i remember watching the studio version on youtube, and some blading guy with glasses was singing the extremly heavy grungy vocals
    wouldn't that be Mike Portnoy?
    GiG-DaDDy
    Look men, i mean boys..., I know its hard to accept something profound to adolescence, thats acceptable, but really, you have to be a REAL musician or audiophile to appreciate such greatness that you cannot even come close to achieving... Sorry, but i just can't stand ignorant, pubescent little whiny bitches, that should have been born girls, LOL!!! This album is great & beats the anything else out that falls in such a category!!
    Bassin Fingers
    I've yet to hear this album; didn't even realize it was already coming out yet, honestly. I was a big fan of Images and Words (which I don't think anyone here even mentioned) since I pretty much grew up on it. I'm not really familiar with their other work, but I'm definitely looking into picking this one up.
    Guitar_Poet
    if you liked Images & Words, i might suggest Awake, Scenes From A Memory, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, and Octavarium. the others are great as well, but a little different. Train of Thought and Systematic Chaos are the two heaviest albums (i like them a lot as well). When Dream and Day Unite has annoying vocals... Falling Into Infinity has some great highlights, as does A Change of Seasons... IMO, they're all great in their own ways. i thought the spoken word collage in Repentance was awesome (surprised me to hear Satch and Vai on a DT album, lol). great album.
    tommyg_99
    This is an excellent album. I don't understand people's problems with it. 'The lyrics are lame and cheesy.' Um... have you ever heard a dream theater song? They're meant to be! And because they did the move to Roadrunner, they were told that they had to have 1 or 2 singles (explaining Constant Motion and Forsaken). I got the special edition too, definately worth it. To explain something else about Repentance, Portnoy says that because all the previous songs in the AA suite were hardcore fast songs, if they ever played the whole suite together, they'd need a breather in there. He also said that they split ITPOE because it was a great way to open the album and a great way to end it. I think it was a fantastic album, definately up there in the greats. Special Edition is worth it too.
    boyan89
    this album is just pure fantastic!JOHN PETRUCCI IS A LEGEND LONG LIVE DREAM THEATER!!!!
    Pompuswazak
    Yeah man I was listening to Ministry and my mum walked past the computer and said "ooo that sounds like James Bond". I was very confused but at leased she's not the only one lol
    slettis
    i never been to fond a dream theater lyrics; at least not the fictional ones. seems like i can never get the message. when it comes the music i love the way the keep on changing..they do what is excellent music rather then caring about genres, expectations etc.. Systematic Chaos isn't my favorite DT album but it still great, and the guitarsolo in "in the prescence of enemies" may well be on of the best ever!
    METSOAD
    Constant motion is on my myspace and i can't stop listenig to the dark eternal night, i need the rest o this album now
    AustinK
    agm_ultimatex wrote: Yeah I agree it's not their best. I've read comments on youtube, fans wanting htem to go back to the awake sound. Personally I think moving on and progressing is a better idea. Awake and Falling into Infinity weren't the best times. Metropolis p2 was a better time for em. Lyrically my favourite too.
    I agree. If the band considers themselves a progressive metal group, why do so many people complain whenever they do just what they've set out to do? Personally, I couldn't be happier; I love this album.
    Jawshuwa
    A part of the intro (once it becomes slower) to "In the Presence of Enemies Pt. 1" reminded me -so- much of "Glasgow Kiss" by Petrucci.
    Jawshuwa
    ...And, I will admit, after listening to "The Dark Eternal Night," I thought to myself, "...What the **** are they doing ?"
    feltgrape
    some say dt's old stuff is better than their new stuff, I think all their albums are just pieces of a puzzle to their style. They've sounded different every record yet stayed the same style and sound plus keeping their fans. This album is great, to me it sounds like a mix of octavarium and train of thought.
    Musicman48858
    A little off topic, but uhh... the first track is only minutes... the last track is over 16 minutes... other than that, a great review... and although the album wasn't my favorite on first listen... some of the tracks are really growing on me
    Guitar_Poet
    AustinK wrote: agm_ultimatex wrote: Yeah I agree it's not their best. I've read comments on youtube, fans wanting htem to go back to the awake sound. Personally I think moving on and progressing is a better idea. Awake and Falling into Infinity weren't the best times. Metropolis p2 was a better time for em. Lyrically my favourite too. I agree. If the band considers themselves a progressive metal group, why do so many people complain whenever they do just what they've set out to do? Personally, I couldn't be happier; I love this album.
    indeed. and Awake was ****ing great lol... FII wasnt the best but it too had some great songs... yea, i agree the albums are all just part of the puzzle. progressive = not the same album over and over. i love that! i HATE it when i get an album and i already knew what it was going to sound like before it came out... thats weak sauce.
    KingGohma
    I think Dark Eternal Night shows that Dream Theater can go from prog madness to a real Pantera-esque song. Also, part of the singing sounded almost like a scream to me. Surprising. Great album.
    vanhalenforever
    isn't theres some other guy singing in dark eternal night? i remember watching the studio version on youtube, and some blading guy with glasses was singing the extremly heavy grungy vocals
    Judgment89
    I didn't like this album at all, it's probably the second worst album from Dream Theater (Falling into infinity was the worst). The lyrics are way too cheesy, the overall sound makes me feel like this is meant for masses, not DT fans (Forsaken is a good example). Only track worth listening is Constant Motions, which has some nice riffs (it has few elements from thrash metal as well).
    b101
    fairly confused by the UG review i have to say - first track over 16mins...no it's not. And i actually laughed out loud with regard to the thought that someone entertained the idea that Constant Motion is a ballad...oh and Repentance is definitely not a song that requires ten shred solos that being said, it's a solid album, not their best, not their worst (Train of Thought and it's aimless mid-tempo riffs have that honour) - but I'm sure it'll grow on me further anyway
    YYZ
    Let me retype that. I did not like this album. They made all the music sound ridiculous, corny and cheesy, as if it were meant for a game of DDR or something. Also, it sounds like they were playing through computers or something, it just doesn't sound real. There is no energy!
    Anty 7
    I still don't understand how people didn't like Train Of Thought! It's my favourite with Scenes from a Memory (two very different albums) Anyway, I wasn't a big fan of Octavarium, and I wasn't expecting something great... And I was right. Half of this album sounds like a generic metal band, die-hard DT fans will probably hate it. And Portnoy's drumming is still not up to what he did since Tot. But there are some memorable progressive moments like the middle of The Dark Eternal Night. That song plus Repentance are the high points for me. But this album doesn't sound like they really tried. To me, it's the least progressive out of all their albums. I'm not a big prog fan, but that's why we like Dream Theater right? So yeah, bad album for DT, but I still prefer a shoddy DT album then most of the "heavy" crap out there today. Each and every one of their albums are truely unique, and the next one will probably be very different. Still a good album, just disappointing, not a classic.
    Gunpowder
    Geez. I completely forgot that this was being released this month...I've gotta scrape together $15 and get my ass to a music store
    Isidro Portillo
    First of all, to everybody that thinks DT should sound like in the past, I think you're forgeting that a band should move on and make some new things, don't you think? And about the album, even though it's not as good as Octavarium (which I think it's their best album), still it's amazing, pretty much what I was expecting of them. All songs are very strong except Repentance (I think they wouldn't have to use fragments of old songs, since they're so creative). In the presence of enemies, the ministry of lost souls and prophets of war are, for me, the best of the album and some of the best DT material in all time. And, I have to say that DT has taken a lot from Muse: just listen to minute 3:37 of In the presence of enemies Pt 1 and Stockholm Syndrome's chorus by muse and you'll know what I mean; and, of course, the obvious influence in Prophets of war. But that Muse thing is not a problem at all, DT and Muse are my favourite bands, so, what the hell. In conclusion, Systematic chaos rules!
    LynchMobster
    Wow. Thats it. In the Presence of Enemies pt 1, Constant Motion, and The Dark Eternal Night are my faves. The whole album is great though. Definately one of my fave DT albums. Right up there with A Change of Seasons and Train of Thought
    Guitar_Poet
    Divinephyton wrote: I must admit the new CD is more straightforward and less prog. than let's say SFAM. One might say it's more commercial *cough Roadrunner cough* and that they're disappointed with DT. I'm not, it's a great album, memorable songs, nice and intriguing, it's definitely worth the money two times over. I'll say it again, it's a great album. The problem is that DT have always delivered albums beyond brilliance and fans sometimes hope for too much (like Portnoy said, people would still be disappointed if they were to bring the second coming of Christ :p). I'll be one of the first to admit it's not their best, but it's certainly not their worst (do they even have that? no, they don't :p ). To put it simple the album definitely kicks ass, go listen to it, you'll see.
    lol, agreed. it may not be my favorite (though im not totally sure, i havent listened to it enough yet)... but the CD is ****ing awesome, and if i lost it, i would buy it over and over again. no negative words for this album... some people think the lyrics are lame, but honestly, the lyrics (to me) have never been the strong point of DT. i listen to them mostly for the music, and less for the lyrics. and i enjoy a little amusing, fantasy lyrics every now and then... things dont always have to be serious! =)
    Divinephyton wrote: carpe-diem : What do you call Falling Into Infinity? A good album nonetheless, why do people talk thrash about FII, I think it has very good songs (Trial of Tears, Hollow years,...)
    i think, for me personally, FII wasnt as great as it could have been... because i heard SFAM before lol. im sure if i had listened to it right after Awake i would have liked it a lot more. i still think it has its bright spots, but definitely one of my less-favorite albums by DT (notice, i still like it). Systematic Chaos, like i said before, is simply awesome. i love it... nice and heavy, like ToT, but IMO it is more diverse. i still love ToT though... that album actually got me into Dream Theater, because at the time I was into really heavy music. ive since moved on from that all-heavy-music mentality =)
    cados121
    I love this album, definitely gets in my head. The Special Edition is a must have, a great documentary directed by MP. Thank god for Dream Theater! or would that be redundant...
    GiG-DaDDy
    This is a great album, something fresh, the special edition is great, loved the making of Systematic Chaos, very inspiring!!!
    YYZ
    I did not like this album. They made all the music sounds ridiculously corny and cheesy, as if it weren't meant for a game of DDR or something. Also, sounds like they were playing through computers or something, it just doesn't sound real.
    calebrocker
    carpe-diem wrote: I'll be one of the first to admit it's not their best, but it's certainly not their worst (do they even have that? no, they don't :p ) What do you call Falling Into Infinity?
    Falling into Infinity was terrible, it's one of my favorites. Though, I can't say I don't like any DT album, because they're all so awesome in their own way.
    Ibzman
    This album is awesome as any other DT album I don't understand why anyone would say that Falling Into Infinity or Awake wasn't good, because it's false. They're awesome album, great work from DT and Systematic Chaos is an other album that continues their great legacy.
    dinley
    Just got the special edition copy with the documentary. Very awesome stuff. All the lyrics are explained there.
    PeruvianSkies
    The only dream theater album that ever flirted with being bad was when dream and day unite.
    slowhekau
    PeruvianSkies wrote: The only dream theater album that ever flirted with being bad was when dream and day unite.
    Indeed. This album is awesome.
    Guitar_Poet
    "it had to have... balls, yknow? just.... balls" lol. portnoy is hilarious. great album! (petrucci's nightmares are hilarious as well)
    Silky Smooth
    At first I must admit I didnt like the album at all Now that i've ran it through a few more times I think it's fantastic! You guys have to give it more then one chance to take it in proper.
    xXChimairaXx
    Dream Theater. The archetype of Progressive Metal. What else can be said. Except they're a kickass band. Long live Petrucci and Portnoy.