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

BLACK CLOUDS & SILVER LININGS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.44 | 1230 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Starhammer
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Does exactly what it says on the tin...

Reviewing the three disc special edition.

The Good: The overall songwriting on this release is their strongest since SDOIT and has some truly magical moments. Even Labrie puts in a good shift and I particularly enjoyed the 'hospital' section of A Nightmare to Remember. The album's single A Rite of Passage is much more enjoyable than its predecessor, Forsaken. Whilst the instrumental breakdown had some excellent guitar work, the keyboard section is sometimes overlooked, and even shunned. I however find the almost abstract electronic approach to be both enjoyable and refreshing.

Dream Theater are also well known for their epic tracks and this release features possibly my favourite so far, The County of Tuscany. The intro is just off the scale and whilst the following verse/chorus section does drag a bit, it has enough intricacies to keep it fresh. The hypnotic mid section is unusually sparse for this band but works really well. My favourite section however is the outro which is brilliantly executed and avoids the trap of overblown orchestrated finales dragging on forever and a day, that Dream Theater so often fall into.

Normally I tend to ignore bonus material and have a somewhat mixed opinion of Dream Theater's previous cover albums, but the tracks found on the third disc here are all excellent. I had already heard their version of to tame a land from the Maiden Heaven tribute release, and it actually turned out to be my least favourite of the six found here which I rank; Lark's Tongues in Aspic. Pt.2 > Take Your Fingers From My Hair > Odyssey > Stargazer > Tenement Funster / Flick of the Wrist / Lily of the Valley.

The Bad: Whilst Dream Theater haven't really written any good lyrics since their Awake album, some of the ones found here are especially bad! The Best of Times is clearly very personal and heartfelt but particular lines and an unnecessary violin opening just push it from sombre to cringeworthy. I would love to see John Myung start writing lyrics again but his contribution to the band becomes increasingly muted over time. He is an outstanding bass player but, like many of their recent releaeses, is drowned out of the overall mix in the sound battle between lead guitar and drums. In contrast to the excellent aforementioned bonus material, the second disc is practically worthless.

Considering my general distain for latter year Dream Theater vocals I was suprised at how inferior I found the fully instrumental versions to be, and now the disc rarely ventures out of its cardboard sleeve.

Whilst I greatly enjoy most of the songs found on this release the only slight dissapointment for me is the shattered fortress. It's the final song in the Twelve-step Suite but is also the worst, and is basically just a reprise of the other tracks with altered lyrics. Only a brief keyboard flurry a couple of minutes into the really song catches my attention.

Probably the most controversial point on the album is the so called 'cookie monster' section on the opening track. Even Mike Portnoy admitted afterwards he was torn between several different vocal approaches and in the end it just sounds like some half hearted shouting. Of the possibilities that he mentioned I would have much preferred to hear Michael Akerfelt do a guest spot.

The Verdict: Whilst it might not be ground-breaking the class is still there. But perhaps most importantly its enjoyable from start to finish, and that's something I have missed in the seven years since 6DOIT.

Starhammer | 4/5 |

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