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How could they possibly think this fit to release? - 30%

UnholyCrusada, December 13th, 2016

Dream Theater really got on a roll with these live CD/DVD sets in the early to mid 2000's, and has since made it a point of putting a new one out to recap the tour for almost every album since. Some showed a band in their prime offering up a near flawless recreation (and at times even improvement) of their lengthy catalogue, as on Live Scenes from New York (mainly the 3CD version) and Score. Others ended up sadly marred by a less than stellar performance as was the case with Once in a Livetime or Live at Budokan, but still made for a professionally put-together product with good production, and in the case of the latter, excellent picture quality and filming. Though some are far more worthy of a place in one's collection than others, there was never a true throwaway effort out of the bunch, at least until the arrival of Chaos in Motion. Filmed on the 2007/2008 tour supporting Systematic Chaos, the band opted to instead take various performances from around the world rather than one single show, and package it all together in a manner befitting a documentary. And just like the album, it's a pile of utter shit with few if any redeeming qualities.

First and foremost, the picture quality is absolutely terrible, barely on par with several editions of Mike Portnoy's "Official Bootleg" series. Indeed, it looks like they just threw some random footage they had lying around together, chucked in a few interviews and behind-the-scenes segments and put it out on the market for sale. Coming off of Score just two years earlier, which was beautifully shot with crystal clarity, this is totally unacceptable as a professional product to be sold in stores. The sound quality doesn't fare a whole lot better either, though it wouldn't matter much anyway considering the shit-show of a performance LaBrie is giving. The man's always had some off nights over the years, even in the early days before he upchucked his stomach from eating some bad shrimp and damaged his voice. Considering the fact that Score was the closest he's ever come to recapturing the majesty of the early '90s, it would only follow that he'd continue on an upswing from there, and yet somehow nothing could be further from reality. I'm not sure what happened in the short time after that tour, but he's amazingly gone from stellar to worse than ever seemingly overnight. You'd think that pulling from various shows over the span of a year would mean there would be a few performances where he was on his game, but he's consistently awful across the board, no matter the time or place.

It's a shame, because the rest of the band are performing every bit as capably as always, and even pulling a few new tricks out of the bag like with a rearranged, extended version of "Surrounded". Some neat jazzy improv out of Petrucci, Jordan allots himself a neat little keyboard solo, and everything seems all swell. But then in comes James with his cat-in-a-blender vocal theatrics to completely ruin the whole thing. On "Take the Time", they outright skip the second verse and chorus because it's obvious he just doesn't have it in him anymore to hit those high notes. And as for two of my favorite DT back-catalogue songs "Scarred" and "Blind Faith"? Completely destroyed beyond recognition. He admittedly doesn't sound quite as bad on the newer material, though considering most of those songs already destroy themselves on a musical level, it's little consolation. It is nice to get both parts of "In the Presence of Enemies" coupled together here, and I suppose "Lines in the Sand" manages to walk away with some dignity remaining by the time it's finished as well. Some of the bonus features between songs are neat inclusions, especially seeing Mikael Akerfeldt performing vocals on "Repentance" (fitting, considering that song is a dead-ringer for Opeth's Damnation album). But aside from these and a couple of other standout moments, there is barely anything worthwhile to take away from this chronicle of a very dark time in Dream Theater's history, and one which will hopefully soon be forgotten.

This is far and away the worst release in the band's discography, studio or live. It would have been far preferable for the band to have simply kept this one locked away in the vault, and bring out a superior product for the next album-touring cycle, which would have also helped give Portnoy the proper send-off he deserved. If you're looking for a superb live product from these guys post Score, look to the excellent Breaking the Fourth Wall and leave this mess in the scrapheap of time where it belongs.