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

BLACK CLOUDS & SILVER LININGS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.44 | 1203 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

topofsm
3 stars Black Clouds and Silver Linings is a bit of a fresh breath in an era where Dream Theater started to alienate fans with over-the-top technicality and a lot more metal elements than previously. Although there are still tons of metal and hard rock elements in this release, it will no doubt please the Dream Theater fan, and may convince other listeners that they are back from a decline.

For the sound of the album, the title Black Clouds and Silver Linings is a perfect description of the sound. "A Nightmare to Remember" and "The Shattered Fortress" are as heavy and dark as ever, but "The Best of Times" and parts of "The Count of Tuscany" reveal some of the brightest, most upbeat Dream Theater since disc two of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. In fact, the melodic parts of the album have to be the most uplifting output of the band ever. That being said, there is still plenty for the metal fan, like blastbeats on the opening track. Unfortunately, in an attempt to sound more 'brutal' Mike Portnoy attempts a death growl ending up like a Slipknot sound alike shouting in a few songs, marring the music just a bit.

Speaking of marring the album, this one contains by far the worst lyrics of any Dream Theater release. While the band has never been praised for their lyrics, they have never sunk to the level of this album, where Petrucci pens out pointless stories of car crashes and an unnerving encounter with a frightening Tuscanian, neither of which really stir the emotions of the fans. That being said, Portnoy's lyrics on "The Shattered Fortress" and "The Best of Times" are quite uplifting and bearable, though hardly Dream Theater's best.

It should also be noted that two tracks are bound to ruin the album for the listener, "A Rite of Passage" and "Wither", the former being a mainstream hard rock song with a catchy chorus to gain mainstream fans, and ultimately that may be the worst song every by Dream Theater. The latter is a rather predictable, though somewhat bearable ballad, which also is probably the most mainstream of Dream Theater's ballads, along the lines of "The Answer Lies Within" and "Hollow Years".

The good parts are simply great though. The opening track "A Nightmare to Remember" is much better than the title, and contains lots of dynamics, between prominent synthesized choirs and fast paced drumming and guitar. "The Shattered Fortress", the final piece in the 12 steps suite found in previous albums, is the emotional climax of the suite and while it is somewhat unoriginal because it contains A LOT of the previous movements, it contains the emotional peaks of the rest of it and combines it all to create an excellent closure on the saga. The song after that, "The Best of Times" is quite possibly the best on the disc, very tasteful playing among the band, and as said before is the most wonderful bright track Dream Theater ever composed, opening with a very soft piano and violing interplay and moving into a wonderfully energetic Rush inspired composition. Then there's "The Count of Tuscany", which will inevitably be praised because of its epic length, though composition wise it is easily Dream Theater's worst epic track, because of its unbalanced structure and unneccesary phrasing. That being said, it's still a good track and worth a listen.

All in all, Black Clouds and Silver Linings is one of the better Dream Theater albums, and such a nice album is welcome in a time where their music has seemed to stagnate. And although not much progression is going on still, their songwriting skills are back and it is an excellent choice out of the catalogue.

topofsm | 3/5 |

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