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Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.45 | 1670 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars The album will certainly suffer because of the track order. Maybe it isn't "from the worst to the best" order, but after a solid opener, some really mediocre tracks follow, before an oustanding finale. Let's go straight to track-by-track review.

"A Nightmare to Remember" - The first five minutes are really mediocre. The instrumental intro is OK, but when the vocals kick in, the vocal melody isn't all that great, in fact it has a cheesy power-metal vibe to it. So far, this is the weakest opening to a DT album. Ever. But after 5 minutes the songs breaks into very slow acoustic guitar part, which is simply beautiful. It continues through next 3-4 minutes and it ALMOST redeems the bad impression from the first part of the song. Then the first instrumental part follows, which is OK. Not their best, but nice. Petrucci and Rudess exchange solos and most of them are OK except the last one by Rudess (the continuum solo which is quite uninspired). The rhythm playing in the background reminds a bit of "Scenes from a memory" days, and songs like "Fatal Tragedy" and "Beyond this Life". After that there is a really RIDICULOUS 'growling' section performed by Mike Portnoy. To include growling vocals into DT's music is probably the stupidest idea the band has ever come up with. It is completely out-of-place and unnecessary. What were they thinking? I cannot think of any purpose to include it in their music. They won't attract new people with it and they won't please old time DT fans also. Mike, if you are reading this, you're a great drummer but please, leave singing to James... Fortunately, the worst part of the song is followed by one of the best part of it - a typical DT instrumental section, technically perfect and impressive. Then the song returns to it initial melody and becomes mediocre once again. I don't really know what to think about this song. It has some beautiful and memorable sections as well as parts that are downright embarrassing. 7/10, but really some parts are 10/10 and some are 1/10...

Another song, "A Rite of Passage" is the album's "Forsaken", another attempt at a 'commercial' metal type of track, but is simply worse than its predecessor from "Systematic Chaos". I mean, the 'progressive' section, which is cut from the single/video version, is fine but the main "body" of the song (verse-chorus) is not nearly as catchy or memorable. Pretty average metal track. 5/10.

"Wither" is the album's ballad, another commercial song. The drum track of this song reminds me a song "Different Strings" from Rush. It has a similar tempo and style of drum playing. The melodies itself are quite catchy, but generally, the ballad isn't on par with some of their best slower songs, like "Misunderstood", "Surrounded" or "Vacant". 6/10.

"The Shattered Fortress" is a closer to the famous AA saga and probably the least original song in the entire suite. It is like an "Overture" or rather an... "Underture", since it is almost entirely made from the riffs and melodies from the previous parts. It doesn't make the song bad though. So far it is the best song on the album. Probably the easiest to 'get into' when you listen to it for the first time, because of all those familiar sounds. 8/10

"The Best of Times" is simply beautiful. This is a song written by Mike Portnoy for his dying father and when you have that in mind, it is a real "tear-jerker". Of course it is one of the most personal songs in the entire DT catalogue, but on the other hand it is a song, that everyone of us sooner or later will be able to relate to. It has a beautiful acoustic intro, then "The Spirit of Radio" section kicks in, before the song breaks into very mellow and melodic section, concluded with a brilliant JP solo, reminiscent of that from "The Ministry of Lost Souls". I don't understand other people's complaints that the song is not 'progressive' enough. Why? Because it doesn't have many odd time signatures? Pink Floyd also didn't have lots of them, but they are still progressive... 9/10.

"The County of Tuscany" - this is the kind of song, that even if the other tracks were simply 0 star stinkers, it would make the album a worthy addition to any prog collection. It is simply one of the best songs by DT EVER. In fact, the only thing that keep it from being THE BEST are the lyrics - quite cheesy to be honest, but since I never paid much attention to the lyrics in the first place (except for the concept albums) it doesn't really bother me that much. Instrumentally, the song is 100% perfect and satisfies me completely. It has everything - slow prog sections, art rock sections, space rock sections, metal sections... The ending is one of the most beautiful things you'll ever hear. That's how prog rock or prog metal should sound like in the 21st century.

To sum up, the album has some average tracks, but also some of the best tracks in DT history (the last 2). Since the weaker songs are shorter songs (two weakest are in total shorter than the best one), it doesn't really drag the album down. The only thing that does is the fact, that the weaker tracks come first and the best ones are at the end, so you have to patiently 'sit through' the beginning to be able to enjoy the marvelous ending. But if you do, you won't be disappointed.

nuncjusz | 4/5 |


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