Black Clouds & Silver Linings
29 June 2009
by Ryan Williams
Dream Theater broke right the way through with their polished proggy metal in 2007 as they released Systematic Chaos but their tenth album sees them return with a proggier, less polished but just as metallic effort.
Bursting in with ‘A Nightmare To Remember’, the seasoned New Yorkers apply themselves to introducing this new record with a song that is a perfect bridge between the previous album and this. James LaBrie’s vocals are exceptional even when you ponder the not-insignificant merits of John Petrucci’s compelling guitarwork and Jordan Rudess’ mesmeric keyboard riffs.
Ignoring the two great but not amazing shorter tracks that come next is easy. It’s not that ‘A Rite Of Passage’ and ‘Wither’ are bad songs at all but they’re just not up to the same incredibly high standard of the rest of this album. These must be the two black clouds they’re talking about.
Chief DT protagonist Mike Portnoy leaves the biggest mark on this album with the alcohol addiction-inspired massive metal of ‘The Shattered Fortress’ and the morose, epic eulogy of ‘The Best Of Times’ (if they’re only silver linings, however…) and it’s no surprise. Built in the rare mould of drummers who do more than just hit stuff, Portnoy writes the bulk of the band’s lyrics as well as being one of the best drummers in the world. Not bad.
Watch the video to ‘A Rite Of Passage’ by Dream Theater
You could be forgiven for suggesting that 12, 13, 16 and 19-minute songs might be a touch too long to keep the modern music listener’s attention for too long but that’s the beauty of Dream Theater. They take you on an enthralling, album-long journey, during which you won’t want to skip a beat for fear of missing out on a magical moment that just won’t make any sense out of context. You’re either in it for the long haul or you stay off this particular juggernaut.
If you can live with Black Clouds & Silver Linings long enough to appreciate all the wonderful nuances and difficulties that appear within then you’ll be a Dream Theater album for life, because this album’s going to stay with you for a very long time.
Sounds like: Yes, Symphony X, Megadeth
Top tracks: The Best Of Times, anything in the awesome boxset sounds better
Dream Theater – Black Clouds & Silver Linings tracklisting
A Nightmare To Remember
A Rite Of Passage
The Shattered Fortress
The Best Of Times
The Count Of Tuscany