Still Progressive After All These Years

Systematic Chaos (Roadrunner Records)
Dream Theater

By Kory Wilcoxson

Leave it to Dream Theater to call its 22-year-old sound "progressive rock." The band, founded in 1985, has reliably been putting out albums every few years, the latest being Systematic Chaos.

It's obvious from a glance at the song list that Dream Theater is about making music, not fair-weather fans. The shortest song, the vampire love story "Foresaken," clocks in at 5:35. Pack a lunch to listen to the two-part "In the Presence of Enemies," which totals over 25 minutes.

Thankfully, all the songs are worth the time invested. Easy comparisons are made with Pink Floyd and Rush (what would you expect from a band founded in the mid-Eighties?), not too shabby company for Dream Theater.

The songs are dominated by complex, sprawling instrumentals, with James LaBrie's vocals weaving good-and-evil narratives about demons, dark nights and lost souls. It's sinister stuff, for sure, but it matches the mood of the music: brooding, mysterious and surreal.

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