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Before I get to my bashing, let me just say that "In the Presence of Enemies" and "Ministry of Lost Souls" are fucking great songs. Let me also say that despite all this controversy, I love some of Dream Theater's releases. Images & Words is one of my favorite albums ever, Awake is incredible and Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory is just outstanding. Shit, I even enjoy Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence more than most people. I even liked them enough to go see the Score concert live.
That being said...what the fuck were they thinking? I was actually pretty excited to see that they split up their epics for a change. I thought "oh, maybe it will sort of be like Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd." Obviously I didn't expect it to be as good, but I thought maybe that sort of approach would be intriguing. I can now safely admit that I was beyond wrong.
Well, this album starts off pretty solid with "In the Presence of Enemies, Pt. 1" and ends on an even better note with "In the Presence of Enemies, Pt. 2", but everything in between other than "Ministry of Lost Souls" is just shit. We're off to a bad start with "Forsaken," and it's incredibly irritatingly pop chorus. I don't care what people say, "Constant Motion" is a Metallica cover with a different title and done a lot worse. James LaBrie wasn't meant to sing in a thrash style like James Hetfield. Nothing against him, it's just not something he was meant to do. "Dark Eternal Night" is just embarrassingly cheesy, stereotypical metal. There's not even a reason to mention "Repentance" and "Prophets of War" is just a really bad, preachy Muse song. Oh, and all those people who claim Dream Theater to have overlong, emotionless, solos that don't serve any purpose but to show off...congratulations. Dream Theater has finally provided you with an album that perfectly portrays this image. Enjoy using Systematic Chaos as your prime example in future Dream Theater bashing.
Now to the good stuff. "Ministry of Lost Souls" is actually a very touching song with lyrics that don't suck (*cough* Dark Eternal Night *cough). I would even go as far to say that it's one of my favorite Dream Theater songs out of their past three or four albums. Yes, as stated before some of the soloing is unnecessary and obnoxious, but even so, it is quite enjoyable on this song more so than others. My main complaint about the solo in this particular song is that it is a little bit too intense and random for the calmness of the song before the solo kicks in. Finally, we have our closing track, "In the Presence of Enemies, Pt. 2." Not much to say about this song except it kicks ass and works as a somewhat dark epic. Though the song "Octavarium" is still a much better epic than "In the Presence of Enemies" is.
Yes, every member in Dream Theater is unbelievably talented at their instruments. Yes, their older work DID have a fuck ton of emotion and true feelings involved in their music, but that doesn't mean it does anymore. Unfortunately, it seems that Dream Theater is getting noticeably older. LaBrie doesn't sound as powerful as he used to and the rest of the band has resorted to random jam sessions in the middle of their songs that wear their influences on their sleeves. Get Images & Words. If you have Images & Words, then get Awake or Metropolis Pt. 2. If you Have those get Six Degrees, and stop there. For fuck's sake, just don't get this!