Reviewed by MJBrady on 17 Nov 2007
Count me as one of the bunch that will find more to like than dislike with every Dream Theater release, their ability to be prog and metal, with some fusion, aor, hardrock and what ever else happens to make it into the stew seems to suit my irregular tastes, I guess growing up on bands like Rush, RTF, Zepplin, Beatles, Max Webster, Yes, ELP, Zappa, Tull, etc., has geared my ears towards loving Dream Theaters romance with progressive rock, as well as their experimental forays into the metal realm. Systematic Chaos is the bands' 10th studio release to date, which is evidence of their lasting impression on not only their early fans, but the new fans they have gained during their +20 year existence.
The music of Systematic Chaos is not more of the same, but better described as improvements on more of the same. As each successive cd comes out from this band, it seems they are still pushing eachother to grow as musicians, and writers by challenging eachother to incorporate even more ingredients to their repertoire. They will seemingly always be the band that some people love to hate, as they will tease fans on either side of the progrock/metal fence enough to frustrate the ones that can't seem to find a happy medium with each facet. The people that get it, are the ones that always enjoy what the band is doing, by not compromising, which has been a defining continuation for them as they have endured a few decades of trials and tribulations in the fickle music business. To some, they either overplay, get too ballady, dabble with keyboard too much, or write to long of songs, to others they are to metallish, or too loud, or the singer is too glam metal sounding. Well no question, anyway you look at it, those are all the things that Dream Theater are about, I want and expect to hear musicians like Rudess, Petrucci, Myung and Portnoy to play their instruments impressively, and LaBrie is the voice of the band, and he still seems to have the same range stretching voice he has had since Images and Words.
As I have with every Dream Theater cd to date, I have found that the songs always breed that familiar vibe with continued listens, where I look forward to each verse, each mood setting, each riff, and the mesmerizing instrumental sections. While I will agree I like some DT music more than others, I have yet to hear a bad song or bad cd from them. I guess they have that "can't do anything wrong" problem, at least for their diehard fans. Again we see the band taking on many epic songs, with some diverse styles, with 17, 15, 11 minute songs, and two at 9 minutes long, they continue to stay away from the temptations to keep things easy. The song Repentance, has a very Pink Floyd feel to it. The rest of the cd is what one might expect from these musicians, very elaborate music that stands well alongside everything else the band has done thus far.