DREAM THEATER – Systematic Chaos

  • 8/10
    DREAM THEATER - Systematic Chaos - 8/10


Roadrunner Records
Release date: June 5, 2007

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When the posterboys of Progressive Metal, Dream Theater, released Octavarium in 2005, it was followed by a set of theories explaining that this would be their last album. And, in ways, it did represent a closure: it was the last album ever to be recorded in the legendary Hit Factory studio (New York) and it was Dream Theater’s last album with Atlantic Records. But, with a new record deal in their hands, this time with Roadrunner Records, another chapter is written with Systematic Chaos.

The Music

The duality in this title hints the duality and wide span found in the music, as well. Not in a long time has Dream Theater sounded so angry, so complex, and yet so humble on just one album. The perks are obvious: you are likely to be intrigued, entertained, stumped, and challenged throughout. This is Progressive Metal they way it should be.

On the other hand, there are phrases and moods that resemble other bands far more than one would expect from someone as innovative as Dream Theater (most apparent in “Constant Motion”). This is not the first time they pull strings from their sources of inspiration (whether it’s an intentional musical quotation or not), but it does nevertheless leave a less flattering impression this time around. In the big picture, it would probably still not bring them down from their poster position, though. Thanks to songs like the immense “In The Presence Of Enemies” (both parts), pitch black “The Dark Eternal Night,” and reflecting “Repentance,” Systematic Chaos floats where its predecessor barely made it ashore.

The Band

Dream Theater has survived two decades without too many changes in their line-up, with the present one dating back to 1999 when their long-time preferred keyboardist Jordan Rudess joined. His contributions have been significant and still are on this album. Fronting the band is still singer James LaBrie, who does an outstanding job on this album. The same naturally goes for drummer and Mr. Dream Theater himself, Mike Portnoy, along with his buddies John Petrucci and John Myung (on guitar and bass respectively, if you were in doubt…). They all appear tight and well-balanced, as usual, supported by a crisp and clear sound and a truly dynamic production.

The Verdict

It’s inevitable for Dream Theater not to be judged by higher standards than other Progressive Metal bands. But, trying to leave that aside, Systematic Chaos is a solid album and a promising start to another two decades of Progressive Metal.


  • Frode Leirvik

    Frode was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Norway. His headbanging experience started when his brother-in-law gave him Deep Purple’s Fireball at the age of ten. Since then, he has also been a fan of and active in several other musical genres, resulting in a deep and profound interest in music. Some of his favorites, among all of those who have somehow managed to tap into the universal force of Progressive Music are (in no particular order): Thule, Dream Theater, King Crimson,Pink Floyd, Rush, Spock’s Beard, Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman, Ekseption, Focus, The Beatles, Deep Purple and Frank Zappa.

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