So we come to their latest release, Systematic Chaos. As someone who is neither a huge DT fan nor a hater, I was pleasantly surprised by the album. It's everything you want and expect from a Dream Theater album. It kicks off with "In The Presence Of Enemies - Part I," and it is nearly five minutes before we hear the first vocals from James LaBrie. It's an effective way to set the tone for the rest of the songs.
One thing you know you're going to get from a Dream Theater CD is epic songs. Systematic Chaos clocks in at nearly an hour and 20 minutes. The shortest song is 5 1/2 minutes long and there are several that are longer than 10 minutes. The styles run the gamut from subdued ballads to complicated and progressive epics to Metallica-esque thrash. Dream Theater's lyrical approach is a little different on this album, with several songs based on fantasy, although there are a few with lyrics based on current and personal events.
The bottom line is, Systematic Chaos is better than 2005's Octavarium, and is one of the best Dream Theater releases in quite a while.