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


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.43 | 1526 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The SaidRemark
2 stars First and foremost: Who let Mike Portnoy open his mouth?

This album should come with a warning that says, "This album contains Mike Portnoy's death growls."

That's right. I guess the band decided that this would be a good idea, but judging by the other reviews on this site, most people consider it to be a very bad idea. Unfortunately, the problems don't end here.

I have been monitoring Dream Theater's downward progression ever since Kevin Moore's Departure over fifteen years ago. Today, it is difficult to believe that Dream Theater are the same visionaries that made masterpieces like Images and Words back in the early nineties. Instrumentally and lyrically, the band has become so much less ambitious.

Eclectic moods and atmospheres have been replaced by an omnipresent metal tone that could be tolerated if it didn't dominate ninety percent of the disk. Surreal reflections and vivid poetry have been replaced by painfully literal lyrics that take themselves far to seriously. First rate songs falling between the length of 5 and 8 minutes have been abandoned in favor of hopelessly tiring epics, which do not come close to justifying their allotted length. The list goes on; everything that once made Dream Theater the champions of modern progressive music has faded.

Many of the signature aspects of Dream Theater's music are still here. The technical proficiency you would expect from men like Portnoy and Petrucci is still here, and they have no problem letting it be known. Each song contains a generous solo spot, or in the case of "A Nightmare to Remember", a million generous solo spots. There are still a million and one time signature changes, quantum level stop-and-go rhythms, guitar/keyboard duels, ambiance, ect.

The problem is that it is all done wrong. The soloing is done for the sake of soloing, and almost seems like masturbation after not too long. Ambiance seems to be used for sake of telling a story, which in the case of this album is completely unnecessary, because the lyrics are already horrifically blatant.

The lowest moment on this album is Mike Portnoy's "The Shattered Fortress," the conclusion to his epic AA Saga. The intro is promising enough, ruined by the vocals when they enter. Here we get Mike shouting phrases like "serenity!" and "freedom!" over chugging metal riffs - completely inappropriate to honor seven and a half year's sobriety. This song is composed almost entirely of DT riffs found in previous AA songs, so it really offers nothing new, except for a few solos which contribute very little. Half way through, we get an absurdly low voice that sounds something like Rush's "The Necromancer" reciting AA rhetoric. All in all, the premise for this song is almost too ridiculous to take seriously. Throughout, the music is unrelentingly dark and brooding, making me suspect a relapse is on it's way soon.

This album is not without redemption. "Wither" is a smashing ballad about writer's block, and features the album's most genuine lyrics by far. The beginning of "The Best of Times" has some gorgeous piano and violin work. Throughout there are bits and pieces of brilliance, scattered in the waste. But if you are anything like me, and pine for a true return to the classic era of DT, you are not likely to find a single song on this album that really satisfies you as this band should.

This album is not recommended to anyone who didn't like the albums "Train of Thought" and "Octavarium." This album is by far Dream Theater's worst to date, and I find it doubtful that they will ever return to the majesty of Albums like "Images and Words" and "Awake."

The SaidRemark | 2/5 |


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