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“Systematic Chaos” (Special Edition) by Dream Theater

Artist: Dream Theater
Title: “Systematic Chaos” – Special Edition (enhanced)
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 6/5/2007
Genre: Progressive Rock/Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

After the release of their 20th Anniversary CD & DVD “The Score”, Dream Theater would shock many music fans by signing on to Roadrunner Records, a label who has been giving a home to some seriously cool new acts as well as several legends. Those of us who have enjoyed the music that Dream Theater is so adept at bringing to life would wonder how their ninth studio album would come out when it was done and when you place “Systematic Chaos” on the player you quickly find out your answer. Right off the bat they hit you with a masterpiece of Progressive Metal instrumentalism that calls to mind the bands influences and learning from their past – it’s a mix of Fusion and Prog styling that really comes to life and draws you right into the album from the get go. There are parts of this track that reminded me a little of Progressive Rock giants Emerson, Lake and Palmer and perhaps this is based on the manner in which Jordan Rudess presents one of the keyboard passages. It just reminded me a little of the vibe that was laid down on the classic “Karn Evil 9”. It’s almost five minutes before we even hear a note from singer James LaBrie but when he makes his grand entrance we find him to be as passionate as ever. “Systematic Chaos” is presented on one CD as opposed to the band giving you a couple of disks of music and while there is a chance that the long time follower will take offense to that they should also be aware that no sacrifices have been made in the songs epic nature. There are a couple of shorter numbers such as “Forsaken”, and this will be a crowd favorite since its one of those songs that actually prompts you to sing along with them – LaBrie sounds incredible here as well and this could become the bands first single off the album if such a thing is even sought. When we get to “Constant Motion” we find DT doing their best Metallica for the most part albeit with far better musicianship than them. It’s a mix of standard heavy DT but with the Hetfield vocals coming in every now and again and I am not sure I liked them doing this. The song is ok and might impress the fans who want the heavier side from the band as opposed to grandiose displays of technical ability. Portnoy joins in at times with some vocals as well and seems to be getting better at such contributions. As I listened I began to think of this new album as a slight mix of that which we enjoyed on “Train Of Thought” and “Octavarium”. I would also have to say that this is the heaviest that Dream Theater has been in many years and this could bring a new level of fans to their corner.
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