DT’s new release is a solid disc-filled, 78-minute, journey that should please most fans and shows they still are on top of their game. Their intense musicianship and enduring passion to create great tunes and give it their all shines through on this disc, however, the lyrics still are their weakest link. Although they break no new ground in their musical styling, Portnoy’s vocals, that used to make me cringe because of the sour notes he hit, have improved, or maybe I’m just getting used to them.
My least favorite tracks on “Systematic Chaos” are the last few minutes of “Repentance” with the dialog babble in the background, and I’m not a fan of the industrial-techno-disco-sounding riff on “Prophets of War”. Otherwise, this disc is killer, the engineering and artwork are amazing, and this probably will be the best prog-metal release of the year.
The special edition DVD is a must and includes a behind the scenes “making of” feature and a 5.1 mix of the album. The 90-minute documentary is good and Portnoy’s personality rules the film, but it’s odd that John Myung didn’t say anything through the entire feature. Was this how he wanted it? Some of his thoughts on the album would have been a treat. The 5.1 mix is awesome – full, thick, spacious and you can even hear the bass guitar, so get rid of the earbuds, buy a decent surround system, and crank it up!