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


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.45 | 1647 ratings

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3 stars As is normal every 18 or so months I find myself HAVING to write a review to explain my thoughts on a particular album; once again Dreamtheater are the subject of my dissection! The new CD 'Black clouds and silver linings' is (in my opinion) a step up from the previous effort 'Systematic chaos', in only that there are simply better songs on offer here. Now, this does not mean it is in any shape or form a return to the quality of 'Scenes from a memory', 'Six degrees..' or 'Images and words' but it IS a step in the right direction. So onto the album, but first off; I cannot believe I am writing this AGAIN, but once again John Myung has been completely obliterated by the mix. I feel bad for the guy, he has slowly disappeared from the albums and now with this offering I cannot hear him at all 90% of the time. I just don't get it! At least they pushed the keyboard faders up a bit here on this album; Rudess is at least audible most of the time. I have to say that 'Black clouds and silver linings' of ALL the DT albums screams for a producer to give these guys a clearer and more streamlined sound. Portnoy's drums have never sounded worse and Petrucci's guitar has never crushed the rest of the band as much as this album. If they don't trust an industry producer then get someone like Steven Wilson to do it, we KNOW he can mix an album well. Imagine how good THAT would sound?!? So to the songs; well, I think (as I said) that they are of generally a higher standard than the last CD so all in all this album comes off better. 'A nightmare to remember' starts things off with a very atmospheric and creepy feeling. It's a clear metal song but it works well enough and the middle soft section is superb stuff. 'A rite of passage' is an oddity to me; it's an OK song but even though it is fairly short (compared to the huge four 12 min+ selections) I think it goes on a bit too long, with just too much soloing for the sake of it. This band is clearly talented, we ALL know that, but sometime they need to just cut it out in favor of the SONG. 'Wither' is the obligatory ballad/slow song and works well in that spot, it's a decent song. As for 'The shattered fortress'; jeez, I am hung up on whether this is good or not, since I seem to find myself singing along to bits from the OTHER AA songs! So I am not sure this song really stands by itself! It really does reek of 'cut and paste' to be honest and I wish that they could have ended the whole AA saga on a slightly more 'original' and meaningful note. This seems a bit of a cop out to me. Like, they knew it had to be done, so let's just make an epic song out of bits of the other songs. You never know, in an AA suite live ? which I am certain they will do at some point ? it may work- well as the conclusion anyway. I fully expect to see the whole 'AA suite' on a CD by itself on the next live set, any takers on a bet for that???? 'The best of times' is a song about Mike's dad and even though the lyrics are somewhat cheesy I think it's heartfelt and works on all levels. The solos here are very good and all in all it would be the best song on the album if it wasn't followed by.. 'The count of Tuscany' is a very 'traditional' (if that makes sense) DT song and I think their strongest effort since the song 'Octavarium'. Obviously I am prog fan so the contrasts in the song and its strong themes make it a very easy choice for the best song. Lyrically, (again) not so great, but La Brie's voice is very strong on this song ? and for that matter the whole album, so it kind of makes up for it. There was no "dark lord?" silliness on this album which made me cringe every time I played 'In the presence of enemies' so the lyrics are not that obviously bad ? as many reviewers have noted.

So to sum up: an improvement on the last CD, but still nowhere near 2002/1999/1994/1992 standards. I think they just NEED a producer so badly it hurts! Someone to clarify their sound and songwriting. Yeah, they can play WELL and solo WELL but sometimes it detracts from the song to the point of padding the number out to 12+ minutes when it really does not need to be that long. I LOVE these guys, as many of us do; I just desperately want them to make the album we KNOW they are capable of. This is not it. However, it IS good and a step in the right direction. So keep it up guys!

3.5 stars (am mystified how ANYONE could give it 5 stars! ? IAW and Six degrees.. are the only two worthy of that and I am not sure they are PERFECT)

transend | 3/5 |


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