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

BLACK CLOUDS & SILVER LININGS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.44 | 1214 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Pekka
4 stars After the disappointing Octavarium and even more so Systematic Chaos I had more or less given up hope on Dream Theater. I made a stern decision that I wouldn't rush out to buy their next album without hearing it first, and thanks to Spotify I was able to give this one a test listen very soon after the release. It was in the middle of the night when this happened, and the first thing I did next day was rushing out to buy the album, three disc edition even. As far as my playlist goes DT were certainly back from the dead.

It's not quite that easy to pinpoint the difference between this album and the disappointing predecessors. There's not that much variation between the DT albums of recent years, but while Octavarium can easily be seen as perhaps their lightest album and Systematic Chaos the darkest and heaviest, Black Clouds & Silver Linings does a very good job combining the two extremes, and with better songwriting in my opinion. Perhaps my favourite track of the album is the opener A Nightmare to Remember which begins with a very dark feel but includes also some absolutely gorgeously beautiful passages. And unfortunately a couple of rather clumsy flirtings with extreme metal better left undone.

Systematic Chaos was an album that had a good part here and there but only one completely good track, but this time they stepped up and actually wrote six really good tracks with weak parts here and there. One thing I'm particularly happy about is that my least favourite member Jordan Rudess is on fire. Fine sound choices all the time, and even the freak out continuum solo in A Rite of Passage is enjoyable. Another highlight of that song is the melodic chorus, which is one of my favourite DT choruses of all time. Wither is probably the least great track here, but a very solid one nevertheless. A bit alarming is the fact that it's already the second John Petrucci Writer's Block song in their last three albums. The Shattered Fortress brings the AA saga to close with style, perhaps my second favourite part after This Dying Soul.

Despite the way too obvious Rush influence in The Best of Times the track is definitely one of the highlights of the album with its sentimental, touching and honest homage to Mike Portnoy's father. John Petrucci gives a great performance in the closing solo, one of the finest things he did last decade. Which unfortunately cannot be said about the lyrics in The Count of Tuscany. Such an epic track of great composition would deserve a deep and meaningful set of lyrics, but what we get is a rather silly story of a frightening fella met on a vacation. Brings a potentially brilliant track down a great deal, but it's still a very enjoyable one.

What's great about this album and especially the last two songs is that it seems to bring back some of the spacier arrangements of the early albums with Petrucci's guitar not necessarily dominating the soundscape with chugging riffs but giving room for John Myung and Rudess while complementing their playing by tasty textures. All the instrumentalists feel equal for the first time in a long time, that's the DT sound I fell in love with on Images & Words and A Change of Seasons.

For the first time in years I have expectations for the next DT release.

Pekka | 4/5 |

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