Dream Theater - 2007 Systematic Chaos

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ARTIST: Dream Theater
ALBUM: Systematic Chaos
LABEL: Roadrunner Records
SERIAL: RR 7992-8
YEAR: 2007

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: James LaBrie - vocals * John Petrucci - guitars * Jordan Rudess - keyboards * Mike Portnoy - drums * John Myung - bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 In The Presence Of Enemies - Part I * 02 Forsaken * 03 Constant Motion * 04 The Dark Eternal Night * 05 Repentance * 06 Prophets Of War * 07 The Ministry Of Lost Souls * 08 In The Presence Of Enemies - Part II

RATING: image

Background

After the resounding success of 'Octavarium', the massive concept album in which the band performed a musical ritual of coming full circle in their career,

The making of the 'Score' DVD eas a celebration of the band's 20th anniversary and moving to a bigger label, Dream Theater seemingly had nothing more to prove, neither artistically or commercially.

All that was left was to make albums for the sheer pleasure of it - and sadly, the first album they made without having to meet expectations was a bit iffy.

The Songs

Two parts of 'In The Presence Of Enemies' were originally one 25-minute-long epic, but since the band members wanted to avoid opening an album with it, and since they ended their previous album with a 25-minute-epic, they decided the best thing would be to split it.

A public debate among Dream Theater members whether that was good or bad for the song itself is still going on, as they usually do; I am in the camp which doesn't prefer any of the two parts and thinks they're rather forgettable, save of the 'my soul is my own now' section of 'Part II'. Just the usual Dream Theater 'verse - solo - verse - unison' business, but not as well done as all before it.

'Forsaken' is a rather bold ballad in a modern metal style, with touchy-feely lyrics about a vampire romance.

'Constant Motion' is their first Metallica worship song since the Train Of Thought days, and is rather bland and forgettable, at least in my eyes (ears).

'The Dark Eternal Night' is probably the most fun song to witness live that the band has come up with in recent years, with a bigger-than-life chorus about a cheesy horror monster showdown, a playful riff and an exhausting solo section which they topped off with a drum solo last tour, also showcased on the lovely 'Live At Luna Park' Blu-ray.

'Repentance' is a very interesting track, akin to something one might find on Opeth's 'Damnation', and features a lengthy spoken word section with some of the prog's greatest musicians opening up about times when they felt regret.

'Prophets Of War' is basically a Muse song with Queen-style vocal harmonies, and is the track I skip almost every time I put this CD on.

'The Ministry Of Lost Souls' is by far my favourite song on the album, because unlike all others, it contains some well-constructed vocal melodies, lyrics that are actually touching and interesting, and some rather anthemic moments. Many of its detractors mind that it turns into an impromptu solo showdown mid-way and then quickly reverts to its original state, but the process is a mainstay in Dream Theater songwriting, so I really don't see why anyone would mind if they're a fan of the band.

In Summary

It seems that, whenever Dream Theater walks into the studio with no plan and no grand scheme, they're unable to make the studio magic we love them for.

The version of the album with the 'Making Of' DVD is worth getting, at least if you're sometimes in the mood of watching middle-aged prog dudes having a good time in the studio for two hours, and if you're anything like me, you will be.


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