In my previous “music review Tuesday” I reviewed the new Rush release. Rush, and another favorite band of mine Kansas, introduced the mainstream to the sub-genre of progressive rock. With their dream-like lyrics and music that pushed the envelope of instrumental prowess, this genre of music appealed to many players and wanna be players such as I. In 1992 the progressive metal/rock band Dream Theater released their debut album “Images and Words”. Through relentless touring and a couple of fairly popular singles, “Pull Me Under” and “Take the Time”, Dream Theater was launched into the music industry. I remember the first time I heard “Pull Me Under”, I thought “what an incredible band.” Bands like Rush and Kansas introduced the world to progressive rock, but Dream Theater took progressive metal/rock to the next level. Progressive Rock II dude! (In my best Bill and Ted impression)
The newest release from Dream Theater is called “Systematic Chaos” and was released June 5th. 2007. The title itself says much about this release. In a recent interview their drummer Mike Portnoy described the album as “heavy and technical, powerful and dynamic – all of the elements people kind of expect out of a Dream Theater album. All of the styles and sounds are intact, but we wanted to make it a real sonic explosion.” Doesn’t that sound like systematic chaos? The album debuted at number 19 on Billboard’s Top 200 which is a major first for the band. This album also marks the beginning of Dream Theater’s relationship with their new record label Roadrunner Records. Then something ironic happened. After finally getting a fresh start with a new record company their old record company Warner purchases Roadrunner Records. Go figure.
“Systematic Chaos” begins with what I and many reviews I’ve read would call a staple Dream Theater song “In The Presence of Enemies”. It contains many elements of the Dream Theater we know and love but with some more guitar distortion and the piano type keyboards that I love to hear. The track is purely DT genius. There is something about crunching guitars and classical sounding piano. This is why Trans-Siberian orchestra appeals to me so much but I digress. The album quiets down a bit for the next track “Forsaken” and promotes the vocal talents of James LaBrie. The next track is one of my favorite tracks on the album “Constant Motion”. I love songs that are heavy on guitar, especially fast solos that showcase the player’s technical abilities. This song definitely does this for their guitarist John Petrucci. The next song “The Dark Eternal Night” seems a very dark and forboding song with LaBrie’s vocals growling in a rhythmic pattern and more heavy guitars. This track has a very fast guitar solo in it that is amazing. The track “Prophets of War” is another DT political song about the war in Iraq.
Album highlights are: “In The Presence of Enemies Part 1”, it is the essence of Dream Theater, “Constant Motion” and “The Dark Eternal Night” for John Petrucci’s incredible use of the guitar. “Forsaken” because it sounds like something from one of my favorite DT albums “Scenes From A Memory”. Even though I don’t agree with the lyrics to “Prophets of War” I like the structure of the song. The second part of “Enemies…” is a great ending to where it began. I understand parts 1 and 2 were written as an entire 25 minute piece and had to be split up. I am going to try and find the original song as it was written. Just because I’m a DT geek.
“Systematic Chaos” is a return of sorts to the Dream Theater roots especially with the two tracks for “In the Presence of Enemies parts 1 and 2.” John Petrucci’s virtuoso guitar playing and Mike Portnoy’s ever consistent drumming rhythms, it is hard to go wrong, especially when you have those other guys in the band. I am going to be more biased here (as if I haven’t beenon the other reviews) I give the new album “Systematic Chaos” by Dream Theater 5 out of 5 stars just because it’s Dream Theater.
Check out the video for “Constant Motion” below. You will have to turn up the volume quite a bit. Every video I found had this problem.