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Title: Black Clouds & Silver Linings
Artist: Dream Theater
Genre: Progressive Metal
Release Date: 19th June 2009
Label: Roadrunner Records

Album Review

DREAM THEATER over the years has reached an almost iconic status in the genre of progressive rock music with albums such as ‘Images and Words’, or ‘Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes from a Memory’. Ever since, some years have passed and a string of more albums have been released not all meeting with general acclaim both from the fans and music critics and now there’s  a new record out with the title ‘Black Clouds & Silver Linings’, the tenth DREAM THEATER album by now.

The opener ‘A Nightmare To Remember’ manifests with a creepy environment in the dead of night under a storm as sombre piano lines phase in before a heavy riff and a pretty Goth choir grab you. Just as you got used to the slower drumming with the over the top double-bass thrashing on it, the signature shifts gear up and drummer Mike Portnoy takes you into a completely different direction. Hey, and I’m just through the first 3 of an over 16 minutes long track with much more signature mayhem and varying themes. At nearly 9 minutes into the track, however, comes the real highlight with John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess each delivering a flurry of killer riffs that will make your jaw drop to the floor. We’ve made it to the second track already with ‘only’ good 8 minutes of length: ‘A Rite of Passage’ opening with riffs having an oriental tinge they’re soon loosing when delving into a dark metal sea leading into a harmonic chorus at last. The track surprisingly keeps its pace for a very long time which is to some extent a relief for the ears. But in this case it’s also the reason for the tempo change seeming very abrupt and untimely. But the riffs are first-class here after all.

Disparate to their previous efforts on the new record, ‘I Wither’ comes in a classic power ballad outfit having rather discrete rhythmic figures complementing the emotive string arrangements and keys manoeuvring around James LaBrie’s wonderful mostly mid-range vocal delivery. For long-term DREAM THEATER fans ‘The Shattered Fortress’ must be a reunion with old and much –loved times as they’ll recognize motifs and riffs from the other parts of the ‘AA series’ which this epic composition will add the last part to with another flurry of signature changes that sometimes appear in a 10 second rhythm while the dexterity of both of the finger acrobats takes your breath away time and again. I’d just wish John Myung’s bass would be more prominent, it sometimes feels as if it’s not even there. ‘The Best of Times’ is a touching tribute to Portnoy’s Dad dying of Cancer during the making of the album. The track begins with a plaintive piano motif completed with clean acoustic spots from the guitar and a saddening violin which after about 3 minutes give way to quite an uplifting rock theme followed by a poignant vocal performance. All its ingredients make it for me the most emotional tune on the record.

With ‘The Count of Tuscany’, a 19 minutes “song”, the band impressively closes up their newest album. It is opened by light, clean guitar arrangements before heavier riffs take over the torch. As is typical with DREAM THEATER they sometimes make you go nuts with their signature changes, especially on this track. You hardly have enough time to get used to one before the next one comes around the corner and in it later part sit surprises you with elegant, airy guitar parts building into a predominantly acoustic finale.

I’ve read a lot of fan opinions about ‘Black Clouds & Silver Linings’ raging between it being the worst DT album ever and the best thing they’ve done in years. For me, not being a die-hard and not knowing every album inside-out it’s simply a brilliant release and even after countless listens I am stunned by the immensely complex melodic and rhythmic arrangements they put to the table here and how they still reveal new details to me. Maybe some people just shouldn’t expect a revolution every time.


1. A Nightmare to Remember – 16:10
2. A Rite of Passage – 8:36
3. Wither – 5:25
4. The Shattered Fortress – 12:49
5. The Best of Times – 13:09
6. The Count of Tuscany – 19:16


James LaBrie - Lead vocals, Percussion
John Myung - Bass guitar, Chapman stick
John Petrucci - Guitars, Backing vocals
Mike Portnoy - Drums, Percussion, Backing vocals
Jordan Rudess - Keyboards, Continuum, Lap steel guitar

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Cover Picture


Music: 9
Sound: 9
Extras: -
Total: 9 / 10


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