5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great new album for Dream Theater,
This review is from: Systematic Chaos: Special Edition+DVD with DD 5.1mix (Audio CD)
The new album by Dream Theater is described by James Labrie on the DVD as being like a new chapter of Dream Theater's career and this, at least partially, shows. Several of the songs have a more fantastical element to the lyrics than previous DT albums and an increased use of Mike Portnoy's more growly vocals as backing or taking whole verses is a break from the past. That is not to say that Labrie has been marginalised, he describes the sessions as the most fun he has had recording since Awake, over ten years ago, but there is more variety from the vocal tracks. The next track in Bill W's twelve step program, written by Portnoy is, for the first time in the series, after The Glass Prison, This Dying Soul and The Root of All Evil, a ballad, although don't mistake this for being another track akin to I Walk Beside You, of their previous Octavarium album. It is still dark and vaguely disterbing, whilst still remaining melodic and thoughtful.
There are all the elements that DT are known for on this album, extended instrumental sections, although once again there is no instrumental track, virtuoso soloing from John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess, whose improvised solo on the Continuum that was recorded whilst Portnoy was doing the drum track is one of the best, and heavy but not crushing riffs.
Overall the album has more of the feel of Train of Thought than the previous Octavarium, but whereas the former was heavy and agressive all the way through, this one does let up on tracks such as Forsaken and Repentance (look out for spoken word contributions from many fellow musicians such as Steve Vai, Steve Hogarth of Marrilion and Joe Satriani). It still rtains a more Proggresive feel that TOF but less so than Octavarium. The epic In The Presence of Enemies, split in two and bookmarking the album is a fitting summary of the way the album pans out.
The Bonus DVD, with it's documentary charts the progress of the album from conception to completion, and is fairly insightful.