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


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.43 | 1526 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Unlike most people, I loved "Octavarium". However, I can't deny that since "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" the quality of Dream Theater music dropped a little bit. So, after the decent "Systematic Chaos", and some comments from Jordan Rudess about this album entering the "gothic" domain, I wasn't very hopeful about this release. So, of course, I wasn't expecting an incredible album that I'd give a five star review. This is possibly the best album from Dream Theater since "Scenes from a Memory". This hints back at Dream Theater's earlier sound, while maintaining the more edgy prog metal sound that defines their newer releases. This has the perfect blend between the two, and makes for a very good release.

"A Nightmare to Remember"- The opening track was written about a car accident John Petrucci was in as a child. It starts out with a very dark, haunting piano melody. It turns into heavy gothic chords on organ with a choir. At one point Mike Portnoy even growls! No, he isn't Mikael Akerfeldt, but he does an okay job. It doesn't do his voice any justice, but this song highlights Mike Portnoy's drumming virtuoso. This has insanely fast double bass pedals and also shows how well he uses different cymbals. Now traditional prog fans, do not be worried. The whole song is not heavy gothic-influenced metal. It has some nice choruses and emotional sections. A great opener!

"A Rite of Passage"- This song gets way too much crap. Yes, it is a single. But so what? It is a very good one without a doubt. I find it almost hilarious that this song is 'too commercial', while "Pull Me Under" doesn't get any complaints, and that was a top 10 hit! I actually find this song to be better, but it almost proves how more recent Dream Theater gets unfairly criticized more so than their earlier releases. It has a nice main riff with a great chorus. I like LaBrie's voice more than I typically do on this song. A highly underrated song that is really good if you don't listen to what other people say about it.

"Wither"- The third song on the album shows the softer side of Dream Theater. It is pretty much a ballad with a nice build into the chorus. My favorite part of the song is near the end. It seems to completely die down, and it's just James LaBrie singing with a piano for a few bars. Then, almost out of nowhere comes a guitar solo that is the highest point in the song. The great thing about "Wither" is the way it builds beautifully.

"The Shattered Fortress"- This is the conclusion to what Mike Portnoy now calls the "Twelve Step Suite", instead of what used to be known as the "Alcoholics Anonymous Suite". This is completely mind-blowing. I not only love this song, but it go me to like the first two songs in the suite that, prior to this song, I didn't like. When listened to as one giant completed suite, the music has an epic feeling, and this actually got me to love the suite.

"The Best of Times"- This song was written by Mike Portnoy about his life together with his father. This was written prior to his father's death, and he got to show his father the song before his death. The song starts out with emotional piano chords, and then a violin melody comes in. This is then continued with guitar. And just when you think this is going to be a very depressing song a shredding guitar comes in. This goes into a more uplifting section that introduces a great chorus. It then has the great lyric "you can pray for a change/but prepare for the end". Then it goes back into the melody at the beginning of the song. There is another more emotional singing section that ends on a great guitar solo that is possibly one of my favorites from John Petrucci. It highlights how he can use speed and emotion perfectly. This really is a great song and is quite possibly my favorite song on Dream Theater's tenth release.

"The Count of Tuscany"- The closing epic on BC&SL. This is one of my favorite Dream Theater mega epics without a doubt. For people strictly against prog metal, still give this one a shot. This song sounds very much like Rush and Pink Floyd without many prog metal sections. This has great guitar work, and I love the way this song isn't laid out like many other Dream Theater epics of this length. Some DT epics were almost predictable at times, but rest assured. This isn't predictable at all. This is a softer epic from DT, and a great one as well. Dream Theater pulled off another great epic here.

Well, what more is there to say? This is a great album for anyone looking for a Dream Theater album that generally represents them best. Mike Portnoy described Black Clouds & Silver Linings as a Dream Theater album with "A Change of Seasons", "Octavarium", "Learning to Live", "Pull Me Under" and "The Glass Prison" all on one album. He certainly didn't lie. It has all the different sounds of Dream Theater on one release. It has some of their heaviest work ever and also has some of their lightest. This is a great place to start listening to Dream Theater. If you generally don't like prog metal, definitely get this. This could be the complete turnaround for you.

EDIT DECEMBER 2009: I think I was a little to quick to give Dream Theater's 2009 release a 5 star rating. I still think it's a great album, but I think it tires after about 10 listens. I've lowered my rating to a 4, but I still highly recommend this!

4 stars.

J-Man | 4/5 |


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