Album Reviews

Dream Theater – Systematic Chaos

(Roadrunner) UK release date: 04 June 2007

Dream Theater are the band who have rewritten prog rock in recent years, far outshining dusty Zimmer-frame bound veterans of the genre such as Yes and Asia with their unique blend of metal, rock and ever increasing levels of virtuoso wizardry. Their fans define �die hard�, as does the band�s dedication to the music they create; they�ve varyed their set list for nearly every gig they�ve ever played, night after night, tour after tour, year after year.

On this their ninth studio effort, snarling riffs, staccato drum fills and swirling keyboard harmonies kick things off in fine style. Mutating into at least four discernable riff progressions before, at five minutes in James LaBrie�s vocals welcome the full return of the most technically advanced hard rock act on the planet. Taking us through a blizzard of musical prowess, Petrucci finishes off the albums opener with some insane sweep picking soloing that will have all the front row �how does he do that?� brigade salivating by the bucket load.

Leaving only so much as a breath for aforementioned devotees to wipe the dripping fluids from their mouths; Jordan Rudess� keyboards briefly beckon in the shortest track (and at five and a half minutes the closet you�ll get to a single!) on the album, with enough pinched harmonics to get Zakk Wylde turned on, the groove of this heavy monster will swiftly become an anthemic crowd favourite.

Whether Pertucci has been listening to label mates Trivium to keep his hand in of late is pure speculation, but the sound of the pure thrash devastation of Constant Motion is not a million miles from the Metallica infused riffage that said youngsters are swiftly making their retirement funds from.

LaBrie�s vocals are normally my one pet hate about this otherwise phenomenal band. Throughout these 8 songs however, for the most part he has chosen a lower range of melodies and it improves the over all impact drastically. He isn�t and never will be �metal� but his chords do stray dangerously close to angry rocker at more than a few points on this opus.

Simply refusing to cave in to predictable ballad territory (just yet�), The Dark Eternal Night is a crushing metal affair with Petrucci and Portnoy complementing each others dexterity brilliantly. LaBrie�s distorted vocals at this point could well leave the bands mellower fans wide awake long into the night; with talk of the blood of the pharaohs, this is Dream Theater reminding you that metal is not about make up or swearing; it�s pure aural rage. Of course, being Dream Theater there are multiple riff and tempo changes thrown in for good measure, just to keep you on your toes.

This album will be the dose of jaw dropping madness that regular fans require, and provide newcomers to the band with a holistic introduction to a truly unique act who continue to inspire and influence many, while not ever stealing the lime light; and lets face it, when you can play any instrument as exceptionally as these geezers do, who needs anyone to tell you that you�re good at it?!

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Dream Theater – Systematic Chaos
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