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on 3 April 2017
many thanks ,
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on 5 July 2007
Okay..outstanding musicianship heady arrangments but not a memorable moment in the whole album. Dream Theater have done all this before and possibly better e.g Images and Words. For their fans this will be another addition to a catalogue brimming with epics, extended solos and heartfelt vocals but no real variety. Maybe age is catching up with me but even Rush are becoming homogenous and although their latest offering is uniformly good that is just it...uniformity!! Variety and an ambition to try to explore different musical landscapes simply do not appear to be on the agenda which is seemingly inspired by playing to the fans expectations. Why not test them and yourselves and create new textures guys, the ability is obviously there!! How about some orchestration or develop a 'groove' here and there...just to enliven the musical experience! I admit to not being a huge fan but at least Led Zep could never be accused of being musically predictable.

I expect there will be a backlash to my comments and of course the beauty of music is that all opinions are valid...at least to that individual, but i'm afraid this opus will soon be gathering dust on my shelves.
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on 7 June 2007
Like many of the reviewers so far, I have been a DT fan for many (10 + years). I guess we each look for something different from them. To me Train of Thought ( which I was honoured to be at THE first gig on the world tour to promote) was the last GREAT DT album. It followed a wave of peerless releases starting with Awake ( still my favourite for the diversity, confidence, melodies and musicianship).

I have only managed 3/4 listens so far so temper my views with that.

The songs aren't great on the whole - there is a feel of a formula about some of the longer ones - almost like the guys said " We are DT so we better add another 5 minutes of noodling and time changes" without thinking about where the song or melody is going. We know they can be self indulgent ( I wish I had 10% of JP's ability) but sometimes less is more.

The highlights for me,so far, are Forsaken ( a great DT song - great vocal performance as well) and Repentance.Weakest is Prophets of War - very poor lyrics - on the whole just below the , admittedly very high, standards DT have set for themselves over the years.

I am , and remain a massive DT fan. I can't wait to see them tour to support the album.I hope that Octavarium and now SC don't indicate that the bands creativity is on the wane. I must emphasise, putting this into perspective that it's good and I will listen my ears off over the next few weeks but TOT, 6DOIT, SFOAM grabbed you right away, no escaping the magnitude of them as classics - this doesn't seem to make it into the same bracket.

Don't shoot me - I'm just a fan with an opinion.
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on 3 May 2017
I was nervous to hear Dream Theater's 2007 release 'Systematic Chaos' when it first came out. Having recently signed with Roadrunner Records, one of the most famous and well-known metal labels in the world, I expected the band to water down their sound in order to appeal to the more mainstream audience that the label would market them to.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

Everything Dream Theater fans love about the band is still here. The complex song structures, intricate musical passages and over-the-top performances remain as they always have. But there is one thing in particular that this album has in abundance, and I can only really describe it as "focus". Possibly due to the fact that they now have a big time record company backing them (which is support they felt they never truly got with past labels), but the guys really go all-out to appeal to a whole new metal audience, whilst trying to remain as loyal to their prog fans as the fans have to them.

Being a heavier and darker album in terms of tone, feeling and musical content, it should come as no surprise that 'Systematic Chaos' is a very guitar-driven release, in particular with songs like 'Constant Motion' and 'The Dark Eternal Night'. That's not to say that Keyboard player Jordan Rudess is neglected, as he still shines in the Evanescence-sounding 'Forsaken', and with one song being 15 minutes and one being 17 minutes in duration, you know there will be plenty of progressive madness to keep die-hard fans happy.

Also featured is 'In the Presence of Enemies', spread into two parts that open and close the album respectively, part one has some very tasty vocal melodies, while part two has some of the greatest guitar riffing ever, with John Petrucci totally owning it in this song and putting most modern metal bands to shame. Then there's 'Repentance', the fourth part in Mike Portnoy's "12 Steps" suite, based on Alcoholics Anonymous and it's 12-steps to recovery program. It's one of the more interesting chapters of the suite due to its softer, more sombre tone, and the various confessions from guest musicians adds depth to the serious nature of the lyrics.

And for the more dedicated fans; the special edition release comes with a cool bonus DVD with over an hour of studio footage, documenting the making of this album! I love stuff like this, as it's a great chance to see not only how the finished product was made, but also an opportunity to delve into the personalities of the band members.

'Systematic Chaos' won't please the fans who were put off by Dream Theater's heavier direction built upon over the previous few albums, but for the most part they've done a fantastic job in adapting their style for a broader metal audience, and since they've only gone on to bigger and better things since then (an impressive feat so far into their careers) I'd say it was a success!
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on 14 June 2007
Having bought this with a slightly sceptical mind after the disappointing Octavarium, I was blown away! The last few DT albums have divided the fans' opinions - some loved the heaviness of Train of Thought, while others liked the slightly smoother sound on Octavarium. BUT - DT are a prog band after all, so it would disappointing if all albums sounded the same.

With that in mind, I think the guys have outdone themselves with this record - combining the best elements of their previous albums into something which is heavy, ballsy (as MP wanted it to be!) and ROCKIN' yet also intricate and proggy with real thought behind the song structures and themes. The lighter moments on the record are more atmospheric and involving, rather than just sounding weak in the context of the others.

As always, the individual performances are absolutely outstanding. Every solo on this record is well placed, appropriate and adds something to the song, rather than just being a showcase for their talents. It's easy not to noticed the genius in the guys' playing as everything fits so well. But genius it is!

I won't go into a breakdown of the songs - others have done that. But for me, both parts of In The Presence Of Enemies stand out. This is what Dream Theater is about! Powerful songs with a mixture of complex musical themes that combine together to form a balls-out, rockin' blast of a record! These guys continue to be top of bill for me. AWESOME!
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on 19 November 2007
First of all I'd like to apologise for the length of this review, but after having read a LOT of bad reviews without any real explanation of what's wrong with the album, I thought I'd give a song by song review. There are a few that are weak, BUT, however, due to a few VERY good songs, this album is quickly becoming one of my favourites.

1. (In the Presence of Enemies Part 1) The album opens very strongly - the first minute or so sounding VERY 'Rush'-esque. I don't mind this, although I'm aware some others may find this worrying. Very impressive song, with some quite interesting out-of-time sections and interesting time-sigs, with a very impressive unison-solo outro. 5/5

2. (Forsaken) First weak point. The song in itself isn't actually TOO bad, but it does sound remarkably like Evanescence, and not just for a short section (i.e. the first song sounding like Rush for about 1 minute). I actually find the lyrics and vocals a tad weak as well - the solo and outro aren't all that bad though, they give a bit of life back to the song. 3.5/5

3. (Constant Motion) Very good song. This song has a truely amazing (IMO anyway) solo section. It really blew me away. At first it took me a while to get into the song (due to Metallica similarities in the 1st verse), but it's actually in time become one of my favourites. 4.5/5

4. (The Dark Eternal Night) I find this song to be an oddness. I love the solo section, and I'm even starting to like the verse/chorus. But it's so heavy, it's hard to believe the verse/chorus is DT at all (especially the vocals, which are NOTHING like anything Labrie has ever sung before). I DO like this one, but other than the very cool instrumental section, I'm not entirely sure why. 4/5

5. (Repentance - another AA suite song) Hmmm. Some have said this is a complete borefest that goes nowhere. If I had written this review when I first got the album, I'd have agreed - but after time, I found it interesting to have a bit of a break from the heavier/faster stuff that proceeds it. Not an amazing song; a nice change of pace though. Definitely prefer it to 'Forsaken' anyway. 4/5

6. (Prophets of War) This is another weak point for me. I loved 'Never Enough' (from Octavarium) despite it being very 'Muse'-ish - mainly because of the blow-away unison solo towards the end. This, whilst also being very 'Muse'-ish, has no solo/interesting riffs, the chants become quite agrivating at points, and for some reason Portnoy decided to do some high screams during one of the verses. Confusing. The really odd thing is, after having said that - I'm listening to it now and singing along, and I'm not bored at all. Go figure *shrugs*. 3/5

7. (The Ministry of Lost Souls) Probably my favourite from the album. VERY cool acoustic guitar section after the dramatic intro - and again another amazing unison solo later on. The only down side for me were the lyrics, but after having found out what they mean from the DVD documentary, even THEY have grown on me. Some have said it's the typical ballad entry - but whilst it obviously IS a ballad - I dont think there's anything typical about it. 5/5

8. (In the Presence of Enemies Part 2) At first listen I found nothing interesting about this part of the 25 minute song. After a few listens though, it's managed to hook me at a few places, and I actually like it quite a lot now. Having said that, the lyrics are WIERD and I dont think I'll ever be able to completely come to terms with them. If they're gonna write a song about someone fighting against the good/bad sides of his conscience, then why make it sound like he's a Satan worshipper? Clueless. Still, lyrics having been explained - it's not anywhere near as bad as I thought originally, and as part of the whole song I do like it a lot now. Oh by the way, a VERY interesting end to the song (yet another amazing unison-solo included, very similar to the one in part 1 though) provides a very cool ending to the album. 4.5/5

All in all, this album has 3 of my all-time DT favourites on it, and a few others that are definitely worth listening to from time to time - no different to When Dream & Day Unite, Images and Words, Awake, Falling Into Infinity & Train of Thought to me.

I find a lot of people tend to say bad things about WHOLE DT albums (Train of Thought, Octavarium, Systematic Chaos in particular) but I've managed to find at least 2 songs on each and every album that I absolutely love (quite often finding 3 or 4 in fact). This album is no different. 4 stars well earned I say.
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on 2 June 2007
Got hold of a copy of this a couple of days ago and as usual first impression was good but is it great?

As usual with DT there are so many aspects to this CD that it takes time to appreciate but it grew on me really quickly.

There is a great mix of melodic, slow tracks with real emotion and tracks that are heavy, some quite complex but always progresive

This CD brings together much of what has been done by DT over their career and blends it with influences such as Floyd, Genesis, Pantera, Metallica...just listen and you hear the nods to all the great artists!

Overall it continues to grow on me and unfold itself with the levels of meaning and musical ability, quite how they produce such fantastic music again and again is in itself pretty amazing.

No hesitation in the 5 star rating and compared to much that is produced at the moment DT should get a 6th star!
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on 8 June 2007
So, Dream Theater in 2007; no line-up changes for over 8 years, new record label with enough marketing gusto to get the band over to a whole new set of fans, and another new album; their 4th in a very creatively proficient decade for the band. So where is Dream Theater musically in 2007? The answer seems to be 'bridging the gap', in their reliable progtastic fashion.

Some of the band's fans seem to have made a habit of finding a perceived fatal flaw with each of Dream Theater's albums these days. For instance, 2003's 'Train Of Thought' was 'too heavy' whilst 2005's 'Ocvatarium' wasnt 'heavy enough'. 'Systematic Chaos', the band's first album on Roadrunner Records, finds the band presenting a healthy balance between their heavy, light and traditional musical sides, and could ultimately prove to be a Dream Theater album that might just manage to please almost everyone.

Because there is a great level of variety on this record, make no mistake. Take two of the album's centre pieces; 'The Dark Eternal Night' lumbers about with such a menacing and brutal edge, and could almost be considered the heaviest song of this band's career. It's also here that drummer and main band spokesperson Mike Portnoy shows off his ever impressive skills with some great fast double bass breaks, and guitarist John Petrucci, shows again why he's one of the best electric guitarists alive by pulling of an enviously brilliant solo, one of many on the album. The song that follows, 'Repentance', is a quiet, moody and reflective number, part 4 in Portnoy's AA series, and features some of the bands friends talking about past failures as its outro. The song could also be another Dream Theater milestone, being the quietest song the band have written, and not only does it prove to be a good folly to the brutality it preceeded, it's another great example of the variety of songs this band can write.

Of course, it doesnt stop there. The more traditionally prog-influenced 'Prophets Of War' and following song 'The Ministry Of Lost Souls' are evidence of the bands 'classical progressive' roots. Also 'Constant Motion' almost feels like an outtake from Metallica's '...And Justice For All', with its metallic speed and poise.

What's also interesting with 'Systematic Chaos' is its release on a slightly more 'hip' record label. Roadrunner know how to market bands that stick out, and with Dream Theater continuing to faithfully develop musically at the same time as sounding current, hopefully a younger crop of fans will be turned onto the band.

As a whole, 'Systematic Chaos' finds Dream Theater reliably continuing along a most satisfying career path. Whilst it doesnt quite scale the creative heights of 'Scenes From A Memory', or the two discs of 'Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence', it never had to. So here we are, with another great album to add to the DT back catalogue, and perhaps, thanks to a new home, a re-energising of a band celebrating its 20th anniversary, but still shockingly not short of ideas.
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VINE VOICEon 18 June 2007
Alright gloves off for this review.....we could go for the blow by blow account for each song...(1) slow build epic (2) nice bouncy one big chorus(3)Hetfield on steroids (4)21st Century Schizoid Dream- crimsonesque glory (5)Sigmund Freud meets nagging bass-line (6)Stately paced grower (7)Epic part deux. There that's that finished. Now the eternal question - where does this stand in the pantheon of DT albums? The answer simply is that this is a great album on its own terms. The naysayers will have you endlessly comparing albums with those that have gone before (nay nay and thrice nay they shout). But such navel gazing serves no-one and only cause cynicism to creep in. Time often plays tricks and many albums only reveal their secrets slowly after years of play. DT "fans" like other obsessives will trash new and lionise old continually. Dream Theater play within a genre of music which straddles at least two defined camps Prog and metal - never completely comfortable in either but testing the boundaries both lyrically and musically. Personally I like the themes developed over several albums ...of ...mental health..... addiction.....ego.... redemption. But for some metalheads anything that strays away from Dungeon & Dragons is dangerous territory. Certainly DT deserve wider attention and seem to be gaining ground again with Roadrunner. As for the mixed reviews ...well I think that some folk should get out more ...wake up and smell the coffee. This album is Great with a capital G. Quality with a capital KW. So buy with confidence ...Good price too. Should be 7 out of 5.

I commend this CD to the house.
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on 20 September 2010
For me, this is my strongest DT album yet (I have Octavarium, Images and Words and Awake), and there is never a dull moment, whether in the distorted riffs of the Dark Eternal Night of in the peaceful melodies of Repentance.

In the Presence of Enemies Pt 1 - 9.5/10 Brilliant opener, love the 5 minute instrumental
Forsaken - 10/10 A slightly more commercial sound, but sticks to its DT vibe
Constant Motion - 8.5/10 - Fast, and with a great solo
The Dark Eternal Night 9/10 - Heaviest song on the album, distorted riffing and vocals and a brilliant solo section
Repentance - 8/10 Much more peaceful than anything else, but is a little bit too long for its effect to last completely without boring you
Prophets of War - 10/10 Great song, catchy riffs and a strong message behind it
Ministry of Lost Souls - 10/10 My favourate song on the album. Very progressive and emotional
In the Presence of Enemies Pt 2 - 10/10 Epic song. Enough said
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