Systematic Chaos review by Dream Theater

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  • Released: Jun 5, 2007
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (443 votes)
Dream Theater: Systematic Chaos

Sound — 8
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.

Lyrics — 9
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.

Overall Impression — 8
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 comments sorted by best / new / date

    [quote]Isidro Portillo wrote: "All songs are very strong except Repentance (I think they wouldn't have to use fragments of old songs, since they're so creative)." Well the problem with that statement, is Repentance is part 4 of a conceptual series of songs, the 1st of which being "The Glass Prison", 2nd "This Dying soul", 3rd "The Root of All Evil", and then "Repentance". So it actually does make sense for them to be using fragments from those songs with new riffs added on top of them.
    The first guy doesn't know what he's talking about. For one thing, "Constant Motion" is basically the fastest song on the album, and the first track which is "In the Presence of Enemies - Part I" is less than 10 minutes long. You'd think that somebody who is reviewing the album, would at least have some sense of melody and/or rythm. Or b, look at the track names and make sure he's getting his facts straight...
    I found that i really only liked half the album. I listen to dream theater for their epic, creative and progressive sounds that you can't get anywhere else. But it feels that half the stuff on here isn't really what i was looking for, it didnt feel like 100% dream theater to me.
    Nothing beats Metropolis Part 2 but this album is definitely ****in sick. im up to track 3 so far... "Constant Motion" has a very metallica feel to it. so far its still progressive but also incorporates the heavier side of DT revealed on Train of Thought.
    I liked it as a whole, as this was my first Dream Theater album. After listening to almost all of their other albums, you can definitely see their progression in style. I'm not too happy with it, because although I love heavy music, I really prefer their older, more melodious stuff. Constant motion features, I think 1 time signature change. Simple, but powerful. It get monotonous though. I would give this album an 8.
    I don't really dig those 'old style metal' influences of there older stuff. Guess Systematic Chaos is about the right style for me. One of the DT albums I like best, in the presence duo are great! Love how DT adapts a more modern style! But I can imagine that fans from the 90s on might not dig this entirely...
    I hate 2 of the reviews on here. One of them gave it a 7 for not being innovative enough and more of the same(which Systematic Chaos, as a dream theater album, is a lot different but i can see how it doesn't do much for prog metal in general) and one guy gave it a 4 and bitched about it not being like old dream theater. Obviously he doesn't realize that dream theater is PROGRESSIVE and most progressive bands change over time. King Crimson did, Pink Floyd did, Meshuggah did, and yes, even Dream Theater does. Idk, I thought this album was amazing and it's one of my favorite dream theater albums. Don't get me wrong, I like their older, more melodic and at times even ballady type stuff too(which they attempted on Black Cloud's song Whither but failed IMO) but to give this album a 4 because it wasn't like old dream theater? Grow up.
    carpe-diem wrote: What do you call Falling Into Infinity?
    I want to know what Dream Theater thinks of that album. I bought it for 5 dollars and still had a hard time believing I got it. Don't get me wrong, Dream Theater is amazing and they're the best musicians in the world, but Falling into Infinity made me cry a little inside.