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

BLACK CLOUDS & SILVER LININGS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.44 | 1232 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Mr. Mustard
3 stars In Black Cloud's and Silver Linings Dream Theater discarded some of the cheesiness of their previous effort and regained focus. Portnoy's weak attempts at Death Metal vocals are still here, but overall the vocals are a much better improvement over Systematic Chaos. Musically it is as heavy and technical as what they have been doing since Train of Thought, but the songs are much tighter and without excessive noodling.

'A Nightmare to Remember' opens the album in a dramatic fashion with some thunder effects which leads to some blast beats from Portnoy that gives the song a metal feel. The riffs are brutal on this song, but eventually let up to give a beautiful middle section which has great flow. Petrucci's guitar playing is pretty bluesy on this song which is kind of interesting to note. Unfortunately, around 10 minutes we're treated with Portnoy's absolutely horrible vocals. Despite this, the song is fantastic overall and a welcomed change from the mess on their previous effort.

'Rite of Passage' has some annoying vocals again, but also has some cool riffs and a nice instrumental section at six minutes in to make it a decent song.

'Wither' is the obligatory pop song of the album. With that said, it's not very good at all. Way too verse-chorus based and uninteresting to be a good Dream Theater song.

'The Shattered Fortress' is the final song in Portnoy's Twelve Step Suite and in many ways is an unintentional farewell to the band. The track takes excerpts of the previous songs of the suite. Normally I don't like self-referencing in songs, but in this context it's acceptable, and in fact it works pretty well.

'Best of Times' opens up in rather depressing manner with strings and piano, but eventually gets a burst of energy in the form of a 'Spirit of Radio' inspired melody. Overall the song is very beautiful, and has one of Petrucci's best solos.

The album ends with the phenomenal 'Count of Tuscany.' The structure of this song is amazingly different than any other Dream Theater epic. The beginning is a homage to Rush's La Villa Strangiato and has a beautiful flow. A short instrumental interlude ensues, followed by the verses which are built on a killer riff. One of my favorite instrumental sections follows, which leads to a stunning ambient section not explored by Dream Theater before. The final buildup with acoustic guitar and vocals is bone chilling and LaBrie is at his emotional best. This song is easily up there with the great Octavarium, Change of Seasons, and Learning to Live.

The best way to describe this album is that it is a better version of Systematic Chaos. There are still some weaker tracks on here. But with that said, Black Clouds and Silver Linings is Dream Theater's best album since Six Degrees thanks in part to the amazing 'Nightmare to Remember' and 'Count of Tuscany.'

7/10

Mr. Mustard | 3/5 |

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