Systematic Chaos

Dream Theater

Roadrunner Records, 2007

REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk


The new millennium has been a watershed season for Dream Theater. It has seen them through several outstanding albums and a growing fan base, as well as a string of highly successful tours and festivals -- including a spot on Dave Mustaine's Gigantour, where they held an army of headbangers in thrall, owning the house in a set bookended by Fear Factory and Megadeth.  Not to mention their own Progressive Nation tour, sharing a bill with the likes of Between The Buried And Me and prog-metal gods Opeth. The merger between the prog-rock and metal camps is the foundation for their loyal and still growing following. New fans are climbing on board in droves as they discover the band for the first time. Go to a DT show and you'll be amazed at the huge number of teens and twenty-somethings.

I love a Dream Theater concert, and not just because I'm a fan. I love watching the open-mouth gape of first-timers witnessing four of the most skilled musicians of the past two decades (and a damn good singer) doing their thing. John Petrucci's phenomenal guitar playing. John Myung’s hands flying spider-like over his six-string bass (I swear that guy has seven fingers on each hand). Mike Portnoy, a blur of arms and cymbals behind the largest drum kit I've ever seen. As a friend stated recently, “those guys are just a bunch of showoffs.” Damn right they are!  Often rebuffed as all technique and no soul, I would argue this point vigorously, but I'll venture to say this disc would change a lot of opinions. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band’s ninth studio release, 2007’s Systemic Chaos, is a stunning display of virtuoso musicianship and finely crafted songs. Chaos is big step forward for the band in terms of songwriting. It's the nature of prog artists to create sprawling, expansive songs -- and yes, even I will admit that can get out of hand. Not so here. Yeah, there's a couple of tracks that punch in at over ten minutes, but even those are more concise and focused then a lot of their older work.  The opening piece “In The Presence Of Enemies” is classic DT. A dynamic opening featuring a Petrucci riff-fest melds into an orchestral prelude of the familiar surging and swelling keys of Jordan Rudess.  Some furious shredding by Petrucci shines on this track. Their harder edges are featured on the grinding “Dark Eternal Night," channeling a bit of early Metallica, and “Constant Motion,” which tips its hat to the old Anthrax songbook. The vampire saga “Forsaken” is bound to become a concert staple. Singer James LaBrie has an amazing voice, and this track is his best performance ever in my book.  The stirring power ballad “Ministry Of Lost Souls” is another showpiece for LaBrie. Over the past few months, this disc has eclipsed their previous work to become my favorite DT release to date.

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the band, Systematic Chaos represents a perfect snapshot of their evolution and growth. Still sticking to their progressive roots, the band has evolved further into a prog-metal act and constrained their tendencies towards thirty-minute epics  to be more accessible, but no less inventive. Personally, I'm excited about the future of the band and what's in store for the standard bearers of modern progressive rock.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


has t00 b my favorite Dream Theater album of all time. all the 8 songs on the albums r my favorites. thats just rare. i didn't really like their Octavarium album. i only liked the title track itself of Octavarium. so they switched t00 Roadrunner Records and Dream Theater released an album Called Systematic Chaos. Systematic Chaos, the true classic for Dream Theater. all the songs are great. all 8 songs of this album r actually my favorites. so wat do i do? i hear the album over and over again. love yuhh Dream Theater. keep it rocking. long songs, theyre called epics. Dream Theater has long songs called epics. epic is something good. long, epic, and thats wat ppl want.

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