I have been a DT fan since around 1998, and was familiar with Images And Words, Awake, A Change of Seasons, and Falling Into Infinity before Scenes From A Memory came out… So I know the differences in their body of work pretty well. To me all of their albums have something to offer, perhaps some a little more intense than others, but they all have a very unique tinge to them. When Scenes and 6 Degrees came out, I knew DT’s career was hitting it’s stride. When Train of Thought came out, it was neat to hear them try something slightly different, with more basic-structured songs while still beating you up with those head-shaking “how’d they do that?” moments… Then came the gorgeous Octavarium which hinted at a much more complex and exciting road ahead… But nothing could have prepared me for Systematic Chaos.
I am stunned at the heart and soul put into this album. It’s very fast, very tight, and so well-paced that it’s all over before you can even comprehend what just hit you. I must say this has got to be their most powerful statement since Scenes and 6 Degrees… That said, you’ll hear past influences of DT albums (most notably the ridiculously awesome time signatures from Scenes From A Memory), along with the typical likes of Pink Floyd, Zappa, Rush, Megadeath, even a little bit of Queen-like vocal layering which fits perfectly… Except on a scale of which only DT can manage to achieve.
The main theme (In The Presence of Enemies, Pt.1) pulls you in quickly and challenges your ears while laying the backdrop for the rest of the album. The slower pieces on this album are equally as entrancing, with unpredictable chord shifts and just the right amount of emotion and ambience. The album climaxes during the unbelievable instrumental on the last track (In The Presence of Enemies, Pt. 2) with such a masterful genius of a sound, you need to hear it to believe it.
This album really does seem to have it all. They’re working together awesomely, using the same formula they did back in late 1999 and I am very pleased with the result. Even non-prog fans MUST respect the insanity that is Systematic Chaos.