Author Topic: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings  (Read 1937 times)

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Offline Scar

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Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« on: December 05, 2016, 06:33:05 PM »
Out of these two Dream Theater albums (last two with Portnoy), which album is your favorite and why?

What about in terms of individual songs? What is your favorite song between the two?

Systematic Chaos:
green=top tier
purple=second tier
brown=third tier
red=fourth tier

1) In the Presence of Enemies
2) Repentance

3) Constant Motion
4) The Ministry of Lost Souls
5) The Dark Eternal Night

6) Forsaken
7) Prophets of War

Black Clouds:
green=top tier
purple=second tier
brown=third tier
red=fourth tier

1) A Nightmare to Remember
2) The Count of Tuscany

3) A Rite of Passage
4) The Best of Times

5) Wither
6) The Shattered Fortress


So overall, Black Clouds doesn't have any song I don't necessarily dislike, but SC has more songs I like much more overall. I personally find it hard to pick which album I like better, but I'll have to go for SC because it is much more fun to listen too. Thougts?
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Offline fischermasamune

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2016, 06:51:01 PM »
I know both albums are considered to be on the bottom of DT's discography, or at least that's my perception on DTF, but I personally see them as of completely different quality.

For me BCASL is a good album, with no duds among its songs. I'd rank it as 6th best Dream Theater album, after SFAM/IAW/TA/Awake/SDOIT. And I consider The Shattered Fortress the best song on the 12 Steps suite. TCOT is no Octavarium but it's good. Wither and AROP are a bit weak though.

Systematic Chaos, in the other hand, is the second worse in their discography, losing only to WDADU. I like The Dark Eternal Night and Constant Motion, and there are some memorable moments in ITPOE, and even Repentance and TMOLS, but I can't stand Prophets of War and Forsaken.

Online TheCountOfNYC

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2016, 07:18:43 PM »
Systematic Chaos

1: Constant Motion
2: In the Presence of Enemies
3: The Ministry of Lost Souls

4: Forsaken
5: Repentence
6: The Dark Eternal Night

7: Prophets of War

Black Clouds & Silver Linings

1: The Count of Tuscany
2: A Nightmare to Remember
3: The Best of Times
4: The Shattered Fortress

5: Wither
6: A Rite of Passage

Out of the two, I definitely prefer Black Clouds. It has my second favorite DT song (TCoT) and three others in my top 50 (ANtR, TSF, and TBoT).

Offline Zook

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2016, 08:08:03 PM »
Both are at the bottom of the list for me, Systematic Chaos being slightly better than Black Clouds.

Out of these songs I like, ITPOE, R, TSF, and TCOT are the best. I can take or leave Forsaken and Wither.

In the Presence of Enemies
Forsaken
Constant Motion
The Dark Eternal Night
Repentance

Wither
The Shattered Fortress
The Count of Tuscany

In Fact, this would make a better 6 song album:

In the Presence of Enemies
Repentance
Constant Motion
The Dark Eternal Night
The Shattered Fortress
The Count of Tuscany

Unfortunately it wouldn't fit on 1 CD.

Offline gzarruk

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2016, 08:33:22 PM »
Systematic Chaos for me. I'm one of the few who thinks the album is very good, and that has some amazing musical moments. ITPOE has some of my favorite moments from all DT history. The instrumental sections through the album are very technical and fun to listen to. The tone and mix are great, every instrument sounds great, James sounds great and MP's vocals aren't as annoying as in Black Clouds  ;D The only song I don't like from it is POW, the rest is pretty solid.

Black Clouds just doesn't make it for me. TCOT is also one of my favorite DT songs, but the rest of the album just sounds out of place. ANTR is great, but the final section (the one with all the changes and the blast beat) is long for the sake of being long. Same happens with TBOT, which, apart from the cool Rush intro and THAT solo, the rest feels forced because they wanted to fit all of MP's lyrics there and just made the song longer and longer.
With the exception of a couple spots on the album, MP's vocals really suck. (ROOOOAAAAAAAARRRRRRERGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH)
AROP has a great solo section, but the rest of the song is just weird.

So, SC is much better, at least for me.
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Offline IDontNotDoThings

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2016, 12:08:10 AM »
Too hard to rank, I love every song on both these albums & I rank them among the best of DT's discography (especially BC&SL).

Offline MirrorMask

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2016, 01:20:20 AM »
Not going on a song by song analysis, 'cause the appreciation of an album is more than the sum of the individual song (it's also about the mood, how the tracklist flow etc) but all in all I prefer Black Clouds & Silver Linings.

Systematic Chaos has too much of the sides of DT I enjoy the least (the random solo sections, an unusual detour with weird lyrics and a kind of heavy stuff not to my liking). Never before or since there was an album where the songs I enjoyed the least were the heaviest ones, my favorite one on the album is probably Forsaken, the simplest one.

Offline krands85

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2016, 02:37:11 AM »
Neither are close to being among my favourite DT albums, but I definitely prefer Systematic Chaos.

Both have got a top 10 DT track (ITPOE and TCOT) and a top 15-20 track (TMOLS and ANTR), but it's the other songs that give SC the edge for me. I find the rest of Black Clouds to be pretty bland and uninteresting, whereas I enjoy most of the remaining tracks of SC. It's not something I say often, but both albums could do with a bit of trimming. Black Clouds being worse in this regard - it suffers from only having 6 tracks I think.
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Offline gzarruk

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2016, 07:11:04 AM »
Neither are close to being among my favourite DT albums, but I definitely prefer Systematic Chaos.

Both have got a top 10 DT track (ITPOE and TCOT) and a top 15-20 track (TMOLS and ANTR), but it's the other songs that give SC the edge for me. I find the rest of Black Clouds to be pretty bland and uninteresting, whereas I enjoy most of the remaining tracks of SC. It's not something I say often, but both albums could do with a bit of trimming. Black Clouds being worse in this regard - it suffers from only having 6 tracks I think.

This 100%.

SC is not one of their best, but I find it to be a bit underrated by the fans in general. ITPOE is one of their best epics, imo.
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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2016, 09:28:30 AM »
Both are near the bottom for me. But I give the edge to Black Clouds. The song breakdowns are kind of pointless in my own evaluation, as I really didn't like either record. But I felt Black Clouds was a bit more palatable. A Right of Passage probably was the standout tune for me on both records.
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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2016, 08:16:56 AM »
Both albums are underrated and I consider them equal as good.  They better represent DT's progressive metal style far more than their current material.

I go back and listen to these records often.
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Offline Elite

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2016, 08:31:51 AM »
BC&SL is DT's worst album as far as I'm concerned, whereas on Systematic Chaos there's quite some cool stuff going on.
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Offline rumborak

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2016, 09:06:25 AM »
BCSL >>> SC.
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Offline kingshmegland

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2016, 09:09:11 AM »
BCSL >>> SC.

I agree.  Every time I listen to SC it doesn't hold my attention.
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Offline rumborak

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2016, 09:11:33 AM »
SC is also so loud that when I put DT on shuffle, I have more than once yanked out my ear buds when an SC song came on.
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Offline El Barto

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2016, 11:58:40 AM »
I consider ITPoE an elite DT track, of which there are only six or seven. BC&SL certainly doesn't have any. By and large I'm not all that crazy about either album, but based on the one standout I have to disagree with Rumbo and say SC >>> BC&SL.
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Offline gm5k

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2016, 12:05:35 PM »
For me it basically comes down to a DT classic (IMO) in TCOT being better than ITPOE (which I also quite like)  Not much else going on in either album that I really like besides ANTR and TMOLS being good songs.  For me they cancel each other out so BC&SL takes it.   From a lead guitar point of view JP really was on fire on BC&SL even on the songs I don't care for.

I'd also say that SC has several songs that I actively dislike, which is very rare for me with DT.  Can't say that about another album in their catalogue. 


Offline rumborak

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2016, 01:52:22 PM »
ANTR is good, Wither is good, and TCOT is a bit campy but otherwise excellent.

SC just has no strong players. Forsaken, CM, POW are not good, and ITPOE is the best try but falters too.
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Offline gm5k

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #20 on: December 16, 2016, 02:15:40 PM »
and TCOT is a bit campy but otherwise excellent.



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« Last Edit: December 16, 2016, 02:39:08 PM by gm5k »

Offline MirrorMask

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2016, 03:01:27 PM »
Maybe it's the surprise opener of the next your! it would be bombastic :metal

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #22 on: December 16, 2016, 04:09:24 PM »
Although The Count of Tuscany is my favourite DT song, and the Best of Times solo is my favourite guitar solo of all time, I still prefer Systematic Chaos over Black Clouds. The album is just absolutely fucking bonkers, in a good way. There's nothing else like it. The insane, self-indulgent flights of virtuosity in tracks like Constant Motion and Dark Eternal Night, the schizophenic mood shifting in Ministry, the absurdity of Presence of Enemies. I just adore that album.

Black Clouds is also very solid but there's only about half an hour of material I love (Count, Shattered Fortress, and the finale of Best of Times). Nightmare to Remember is my least favourite DT track, Rite of Passage has a wonderful chorus but not much else which moves me, and Wither is nice enough but nothing special.

If I were to compile one brilliant double album from both records, it would be:

In The Presence of Enemies Part 1
In The Presence of Enemies Part 2
Constant Motion
The Dark Eternal Night
The Ministry of Lost Souls
The Shattered Fortress
The Best of Times
The Count of Tuscany.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2016, 06:21:33 AM by Dave_Manchester »

Offline gzarruk

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #23 on: December 16, 2016, 09:17:52 PM »
Although The Count of Tuscany is my favourite DT song, and the Best of Times solo is my favourite guitar solo of all time, I still prefer Systematic Chaos over Black Clouds. The album is just absolutely fucking bonkers, in a good way. There's nothing else like it. The insane, self-indulgent flights of virtuosity in tracks like Constant Motion and Dark Eternal Night, the schizophenic mood shifting in Ministry, the absurdity of Presence of Enemies. I juat adore that album.

Couldn't have said it better. Agree 100% with you. SC is a much better album, and, like you say, the sonngs have a lot of interesting sections.
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Offline rumborak

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #24 on: December 17, 2016, 02:41:47 AM »
Can I ask around what time you guys became DT fans? I have found that when people like certain albums that are usually seen as bottom-end albums, one common reason is that that's the album they were exposed to DT with. Nothing wrong with that (I'm sure a good percentage of the love for IAW comes from that effect), just wondering.
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Offline IDontNotDoThings

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #25 on: December 17, 2016, 03:50:32 AM »
Can I ask around what time you guys became DT fans? I have found that when people like certain albums that are usually seen as bottom-end albums, one common reason is that that's the album they were exposed to DT with. Nothing wrong with that (I'm sure a good percentage of the love for IAW comes from that effect), just wondering.


(EDIT: The blank spot was meant to be FII)
« Last Edit: December 17, 2016, 04:35:30 PM by IDontNotDoThings »

Offline Dream Team

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #26 on: December 17, 2016, 05:52:51 AM »
^ nice

Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #27 on: December 17, 2016, 06:32:28 AM »
Can I ask around what time you guys became DT fans? I have found that when people like certain albums that are usually seen as bottom-end albums, one common reason is that that's the album they were exposed to DT with. Nothing wrong with that (I'm sure a good percentage of the love for IAW comes from that effect), just wondering.

For me, it was around 2000. I saw a poster for the band's Scenes From A Memory concert in my university's student union building (unbelievable now to think the band once played that album in full in venues as small as that), I was intrigued (and the ticket price was very low), so I went to see them. Not much was the same in my musical universe after that night.

I think my affection for Systematic Chaos is connected with how important Scenes From A Memory is to me. One of the things I love about Scenes is all those mad, unpredictable instrumental sections within the songs (Beyond This Life, Fatal Tragedy, Home, etc). I don't care if it's 'out of place' or 'tasteless' or whatever other criticisms I've seen made of the band's approach. I love all of that stuff. Great big chunks of ridiculous showing-off (like in the middle of Outcry for example) is one of the things I love about the band. Systematic Chaos has that in abundance. Maybe because of the daft lyrics, or maybe because of the sprawling compositions, but to me there's such a sense of fun to the album.

Offline rumborak

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #28 on: December 17, 2016, 07:30:26 AM »
Can I ask around what time you guys became DT fans? I have found that when people like certain albums that are usually seen as bottom-end albums, one common reason is that that's the album they were exposed to DT with. Nothing wrong with that (I'm sure a good percentage of the love for IAW comes from that effect), just wondering.



SFAM is your second to last listened to album?!

How. On Earth. Did that come about.
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Offline KevShmev

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #29 on: December 17, 2016, 07:43:03 AM »
ANTR is good, Wither is good, and TCOT is a bit campy but otherwise excellent.

SC just has no strong players. Forsaken, CM, POW are not good, and ITPOE is the best try but falters too.

I mostly agree with this, although The Dark Eternal Night is the song I listen to the most from SC.  In fact, it's really the only song from it that I ever revisit anymore.

I agree with those saying that SC has a "fun" element that you won't find on any other DT album, and it's fine to crank it up once or twice a year to enjoy, but, by and large, it just doesn't stack up to the rest of their catalogue; neither does BC&SL.

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #30 on: December 17, 2016, 08:00:45 AM »
SFAM is your second to last listened to album?!

How. On Earth. Did that come about.

SFAM was the last album I listened to when I became a fan around the start of the BC&SL era. I kept hearing that it was out of this world good, so I saved it up for last. 
I've never grown to love it, it has some top 10 tracks but as a whole there are more tracks I dislike or find average than tracks I love.
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Offline gzarruk

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #31 on: December 17, 2016, 10:29:00 AM »
Can I ask around what time you guys became DT fans? I have found that when people like certain albums that are usually seen as bottom-end albums, one common reason is that that's the album they were exposed to DT with. Nothing wrong with that (I'm sure a good percentage of the love for IAW comes from that effect), just wondering.

For me, it was around 2000. I saw a poster for the band's Scenes From A Memory concert in my university's student union building (unbelievable now to think the band once played that album in full in venues as small as that), I was intrigued (and the ticket price was very low), so I went to see them. Not much was the same in my musical universe after that night.

I think my affection for Systematic Chaos is connected with how important Scenes From A Memory is to me. One of the things I love about Scenes is all those mad, unpredictable instrumental sections within the songs (Beyond This Life, Fatal Tragedy, Home, etc). I don't care if it's 'out of place' or 'tasteless' or whatever other criticisms I've seen made of the band's approach. I love all of that stuff. Great big chunks of ridiculous showing-off (like in the middle of Outcry for example) is one of the things I love about the band. Systematic Chaos has that in abundance. Maybe because of the daft lyrics, or maybe because of the sprawling compositions, but to me there's such a sense of fun to the album.

This. The crazy instrumental sections are one of the trademarks of the band, and, although sometimes they don't work that well for the song, that's something I always look for on a new DT album.

SC has overall a much better tone, it covers more ground in terms of composition and diversity of styles. There's more moments for each member to shine, opposed to BC&SL, which is mostly JP and MP, very little JR, JM and JLB.
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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #32 on: December 17, 2016, 11:00:44 AM »
There's more moments for each member to shine, opposed to BC&SL, which is mostly JP and MP, very little JR, JM and JLB.

JLB: Beautiful Agony section in ANTR. TCOT finale. JLB is lackluster on SC if anything, only ITPOE comes to mind when I think of his vocals on that album.
JR: his part in the TCOT chorus is hands down my favourite JR performance on anything, actually he shines from start to finish in that song. You have TGP arpeggios going on in The Shattered Fortress etc.

And yeah... JM is just kinda there I guess.
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Offline gzarruk

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #33 on: December 17, 2016, 11:18:18 AM »
There's more moments for each member to shine, opposed to BC&SL, which is mostly JP and MP, very little JR, JM and JLB.

JLB: Beautiful Agony section in ANTR. TCOT finale. JLB is lackluster on SC if anything, only ITPOE comes to mind when I think of his vocals on that album.
JR: his part in the TCOT chorus is hands down my favourite JR performance on anything, actually he shines from start to finish in that song. You have TGP arpeggios going on in The Shattered Fortress etc.

And yeah... JM is just kinda there I guess.

JLB has a better vocal tone on SC, I think. The agony section is great, TCOT as well, but on songs like AROP, TBOT, he's just "there"

For JR, TCOT is the only song where he truly shines on the album. The arpeggios on TSF are just the same thing from TGP, not a new thing, really  :-\ Also, his sound choices on SC are much more interesting/creative than on BC&SL. You can even take his own words for it. He said, after MP left, he became free to experiment more on his keyboard parts, and that's why ADTOE was so keyboard heavy.

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Offline TAC

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Re: Systematic Chaos vs Black Clouds and Silver Linings
« Reply #34 on: December 17, 2016, 03:35:25 PM »
I actually think James was fantastic on SC. At least in what was asked of him.
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