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Progressive rock masters Dream Theater return in full force with their ninth studio album, Systematic Chaos. Rooted in the virtuosic sounds the band is known for, the album features heavy riffs reminiscent of Metallica's earlier years, soaring melodies and intricate arrangements. With Systematic Chaos, Dream Theater have sought to not only appease their ever loyal fans with their remarkable musicality, but to also reach out to all rock fans with hook-laden rockers like Constant Motion, Forsaken and The Dark Eternal Night. Co-produced by Mike Portnoy (drummer, vocals) and John Petrucci guitarist) and mixed by Paul Northfield (Rush, Hole, Ozzy Osbourne), Systematic Chaos is an apt title for an album that ranges from parts ever so delicate to arrangements that beg the question, how do they do that? Dream Theater have delivered a seminal album that clearly shows the band is at the top of their game twenty years into their storied career. Special Edition available featuring unique artwork and bonus DVD including a 5.1 mix of the album and a 90 minute making of album documentary.
Digital Booklet: Systematic Chaos
Digital Booklet: Systematic Chaos
Top customer reviews
Without wasting time, let it be said that this mediocre album has one of my absolutely favorite DT songs - THE MINISTRY OF LOST SOULS. The song has some of the best sing-along vocal melodies ever.. and some of my favorite acoustic guitar chunks (that intro! guitar porn).
Let's go through the songs, shall we?
In The Presence Of Enemies (25:38)
Please ignore the suggestion of Road Runner records to listen to this song in 2 chunks with an hour of music between them. The song is meant to be played straight through. It's the only way that makes any sense. The instrumental opening is brilliant - it's good to hear DT challenging themselves. Bravo. Then - there are the lyrics. I guess maybe Mike Portnoy was inspired by landing on Road Runner, and decided to go the more current style of all-literal vocals. Instead of "Pull Me Under I'm Not Afraid" or "A Sense Of Awareness, Losing Time" we get "Dark master my guide, I will fight for you." I mean, this is really not your daddy's dream theater lyrics - it was super awkward when the album was new and I was still learning the lyrics. If you are unable to get past the oddness, I'm afraid to say that this isn't the album for you.
Okay back to the song at hand - It's really interesting musically throughout. DT make sounds and explore timing in ways they never had before this song. About halfway through the second movement, they have some really sweet instrumental parts from when he sings "One man rises up, standing in their way" to the end of the song. Wonderful stuff. Some really acrobatic stuff on guitar, in particular. This is one of the better songs on this album.
I like the idea of opening the album with a 25 minute song. That fact makes me like this song even more. Lol
A very sneaky way of tossing in a "AOR ballad". It really works out though, because it is one of the catchiest songs on the album. After listening to track one, my ears are tired... Forsaken just flows. It has some really nice metal guitar stuff with pinch harmonics galore.
Another one of the bright spots here. JP's solo is just dreamy guitar warmth.. so good. Again, kinda strange literal lyrics.
Constant Motion (6:55)
Some more super acrobatic playing by everyone. The song itself kinda reminds me of Root Of All Evil from the amazing Octavarium album. Mike Portnoy isn't a terrible singer, but the way they mixed his voice makes him sound like a crazed fan who hijacked the mic. The instrumental break in the middle of the song is really interesting and just awesome.. Petrucci does a bunch of Dimebag Darrel squeels. Fun stuff. Really upbeat track from start to finish.
SADLY The hook (chorus) is almost bad enough to ruin the whole song. This one is more good than bad, although they're obviously trying to sound like some other band. Which band, I don't have a clue. But not very DT at all.
The Dark Eternal Night (8:54)
This song is the opposite of Constant Motion, in that the chorus is actually pretty good. The rest of the song is just bad. Not sure why they would go for such a lack of tone in much of the song.. much of the vocals are just angry sounding chants with 4 layers of the same thing, not one of them trying to actually sing in key. The instrumental break has the weird obligatory ragtime piano solo from Jordan Rudess, and even a weird fusion kind of part.
This song doesn't make me feel anything. They aren't even trying to take me anywhere. Most of it is devoid of any key or even tone. Not sure if anybody will understand what I mean. lol Anyway this is a bad DT song because again, they are trying to sound like other bands. This is when they show their weakness (trying to sound like other bands).
This song is the obligatory Alcoholics Anonymous song when Portnoy was still their main man. It really has a nice intro to just zone out to... but the spoken word stuff just takes me out of the zone. Amazing guitar solo.
Don't love it, yet don't hate it. And really, to heck with AA. It's lame... it's not METAL at all. The song doesn't really need to be 10 minutes long, either. Not much going on except for the JP solo.
Prophets of War (6:01)
This is another song where they try to chanel other bands like Muse and whatever else the hipsters listen to (maybe Radiohead? Either way, terrible bands). The result is quite possibly the worst DT song ever.
Honestly. Do you see a pattern here? The last really good song we heard was the second song Forsaken. Since then it's been really dull. Not the kind of inspiring music we DT fans are used to. Two thumbs way down.
The Ministry Of Lost Souls (14:57)
This song is absolutely one of my favorite DT songs of all time... top 3 at least. The lyrics are emotional and gooey, the music really cradles the listener and takes them on a wonderful journey. MY GOD if only the whole album were this good. My girlfriend and I sing this song like we're on Star Search whenever it comes on. I really love everything about this song: lyrics, music, the whole thing.
And now my friends you see the unfortunate sting of Systematic Chaos. When you get to the end and finally hear the best song, you realize that you've been making excuses for the other 6 songs. Compared to TMOLS the whole rest of the album seems even more bland and boring.
Actually "In The Presence Of Enemies" is really good, also. I would love to see DT play TMOLS and ITPOE on their next concert DVD.
I contacted Roadrunner directly, and they were very sympathetic, so much that they assured me it would be dealt with. They sent me a new vinyl copy in the mail and said it was a "promotional copy" and would not contain the problem. Low and behold, the same outcome.
This was an across the board manufacturing error. NO correct copies are out there.
Someone else here posted something about a German pressing being correct, and perhaps that is possible, but Roadrunner said they didn't know anything about it.
To their credit though, a really great customer service worker from Roadrunner apologized and sent me a few Dream Theater CDs to pass out to my friends.
3 sides is at least better than no sides, if you're a fan of Systematic Chaos, but unfortunately this one on vinyl is not complete. Hopefully the people at Music On Vinyl will release an updated edition like other Dream Theater titles.