Dream Theater - Black Clouds And Silver Linings
I had a good feeling about this album since I first saw the awesome artwork, it somehow signalised a philosophical mystique and kept drawing my attention, a bit like the Awake cover and album still does after all these years.
Lets just say I'm not disappointed as Black Clouds And Silver Linings rocks, rips, moves and inspires on many different levels, in short this is Progressive Metal as only one band has ever been able to deliver it.
Now you might be thinking that I'm some sort of DT nut case, and you're right. I honestly love this band and I'm delighted to announce that they have made their best album since the masterful Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence.
75 minutes split up between 6 tracks is quite a challenge, something that could even break an album apart, but that doesn't happen here.
A Nightmare To Remember sets a creepy mood right away with a keyboard melody that ends up being an ongoing theme throughout this first of very long epics.
The extremely diverse and really heavy drumming fits in perfectly while the shifting key / guitar solo taking up a large chunk of the songs midsection is enjoyable if not quite up to the standard we know this band is capable of. All in all a promising start.
With A Rite Of Passage the band has picked out a wise choice for the first single, a track containing all the elements that makes Dream Theater special and perhaps the coolest break by Petrucci ever, now that's one hell of a heavy guitar riff accompanied by some excellent lead shredding.
Lyrical it's about Freemasonry and the secret mystics connected to the phenommenen, pretty cool stuff and LaBrie nails the memorable chorus brilliantly. The flow of the song is elegant and this is surely gonna be a live favourite.
Wither is the albums full-blown "ballad" with underlying keyboard moods smooth as silk. The mid section vocal passage accompanied by a subtle piano is a clear album highlight and simply breathtaking, I dare you not to sing that line out loud after listening to the album a few times, let me now if you can resist the temptation.
The Shattered Fortress is the final part of Portnoy's "twelve-step suite" dealing with his fight against alcoholism. At first it may come along a bit untidy but the track soon begins to take form and it makes perfect sense as different motifs from the previous four songs are incorporated in a very elaborate way.
The galloping drums, crushing guitars and creative bass melt into a challenging rhythm section with different layers working simultaneously. Plenty of shifting solos and tempo changes makes it deliciously diverse.
When asked by Metal Inside about getting acceptance from the metal community Mike Portnoy replied:
We've always been a metal band. But our problem is that we've always been too progressive for the real metalheads, and we're always too metal for the real prog purists. So as much as we've been able to float between the two worlds, I don't know if we've ever been fully embraced by either world.

Interesting thought and I guess there is something to it, on the other hand it's exactly this combination that has made the band so cherished by a lot of music fans. Black Clouds And Silver Linings is at times really heavy and also very progressive but most of the time these two elements works in combination, it's hard to separate the one from the other and there's really no need to either.
The band has never been afraid of making things personal, an element that in my opinion has meant that their songs very often had much more to offer than just great music. The Best Of Times deals with the death of Mike Portnoy's father due to cancer and the result is down right moving. The last part of the song gets a bit long but with the final words your spirit guides my life each day I guess we all in someway can relate to the feelings touched upon in this bombastic and emotional track.
In classic Petrucci style the final opus starts out with some subtle acoustics and a moody lead melody, but The Count Of Tuscany soon shows a very ingenious side with all instruments meeting in a melting pot battle of eccentric skills. This bright passage leads into a more aggressive section, which again drifts into almost complete stillness as a dreamy key scenario unfolds, quite untypical DT and quite hypnotizing.
Lyrically The Count Of Tuscany is a bit weird but the album as a whole brings along lots of cool passages to enjoy and I think that they have succeed in keeping focus intact in some very lengthy compositions.
As you could imagine the album sounds extremely professional and crisp, as goes for the "spoken" passages that appear in some songs I was prepared to be annoyed at some level, but somehow it actually works out decently.
Now I'm looking forward to the 3 CD edition and I have a hard time imagining DT fans not finding this album a challenge and a treat, after the first 15 spins I still feel it has more to offer.

Written by Tommy
Monday, June 15, 2009
Show all reviews by Tommy


Tommy: 8.5/10

Members: 8.33/10 - Average of 3 ratings.

Member ratings

Profile pictureSandra

Rating: 8.5/10
I have been waiting and waiting for this album and thinking about it a lot, and the day I ... · Read more ·
Profile pictureDark Lord

Rating: 8.5/10
No review was posted
Profile pictureLittle Drummer Boy

Rating: 8/10
This Cd is excellent. Actually I picked up the 3 CD set and it is a treat. Best since Scen... · Read more ·

This article has been shown 6084 times. Go to the complete list.

RevelationZ Comments

Comment by ProfessorShred (Member) - Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Profile picture

View Profile

Comments: 16
Ratings: 45
With each Dream Theater release,I grow more tired of them.You would think with all of the band members mastery of their respective instruments and Labrie at the helm,everything they release would be a masterpiece,but I am afraid it just isn't so. With all of their technical prowess,especially Petrucci's blistering guitar work,I always come away empty,I need passionate melody,soul if you will.I just don't think they deliver the goods anymore,more so than ever since Jordan Rudess replaced Derek on keys. Flame all you want die hards,but this is my opinion.
Rating: 6.5/10

Posted by ProfessorShred
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Comment by Alanna (Staff) - Wednesday, June 24, 2009
RevelationZ Staff

View Profile

Comments: 245
They haven't been the same since Kevin left. "Awake" is still their masterpiece, no matter how pompous, serious and technical they get these days. The endlessly long songs are a bit of overkill too. Not a bad album, but not near the brilliance of "Awake" which is a shame. Better luck next time?

Posted by Alanna (Staff)
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review by Little Drummer Boy (Member) - Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Profile picture

View Profile

Comments: 166
Ratings: 46
This Cd is excellent. Actually I picked up the 3 CD set and it is a treat. Best since Scenes. 2 CD are covers and executed very well (no more official bootlegs). And 3rd is the instrumental CD and it is a musicians nightmare and I mean that in a good way.

I know with the last few releases it has not been very accessible where I was finding I could only listen to a couple tracks at a time, forcing myself to sit through the complex works (It was to much in so many directions). This release, I had no problem from start to finish. With that being said I still think they can offer more. There we time where I though oh no where are they going with the passages but they ended mixing up soon enough before they lost me. I&W, Awake, Scenes and FII are still tops in my books but BC&SL offers a little bit of everything they have done to date with some fresh ideas.

A Right of Passage was the perfect track as the single and admittedly I prefer the length of the single. Shattered is a brilliant track but at the end of the day A Nightmare...is still may favorite track.

I think I will have even more appreciation as time goes along as I did get the 3 CD set so it will take longer for me to absorb it all. But that is my first impressions and even though my opinions from track to track may end up differing I pretty sure my initial rating shall remain the same.

Rating: 8/10

Posted by Little Drummer Boy
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Comment by Little Drummer Boy (Member) - Saturday, July 11, 2009
Profile picture

View Profile

Comments: 166
Ratings: 46
I could not resist the temptation. With each listen of the song Wither, it will draw you in more and more. Yes I was sing it in my car.

Posted by Little Drummer Boy
Saturday, July 11, 2009

Comment by Tommy (Member) - Saturday, July 11, 2009
Profile picture

View Profile

Comments: 74
Ratings: 31
Yeah, I even sing along when listening to the instrumental disc. A very dark but still melodic album that firmly draws you in.

Posted by Tommy
Saturday, July 11, 2009

Review by Sandra (Member) - Sunday, July 19, 2009
Profile picture

View Profile

Comments: 36
Ratings: 25
I have been waiting and waiting for this album and thinking about it a lot, and the day I got it I was totally ecstatic... and still am :)

The gothic tone in the beginning ofA Nightmare to Remember and the intense drumming really sets a very tense atmosphere and you don't know what is coming next. I really like when the song turns more silent... the mid-section is so delightful. The chorus is very well written: Hopelessly drifting bathing in beautiful agony, I'm endlessly falling Lost in this wonderful misery, in peaceful sedation I lay half awake .

Yes, A Rite of Passage was a very good pick as single, that for sure. The riff in the chorus is so cool, very playful and I don't know exotic, refreshing and mystical? :) The chorus is just spot on, actually most of the choruses on the album have something to offer and are very catchy.. this one is put together in a awesome way. Yeah, the guitar solo breakthrough is so cool Petrucci owns and Rudess is very teasing on the keys.
Wither: ...no words just <3 .well I love this song, it is so beautiful. Very well written, emotional, delicate and the line: I drown in hesitation, my words come crashing down is splendid! The mid section is just...wow. The guitar solo is not over the top, it fits perfectly in. I can't resist the temptation too :)

The voice over thing in The Shattered Fortress makes the song kind of deeper, it's hard to explain, but there is something to it... Something mentally.

I think it's nice the fact that The Best of times is a "joyful" song, a celebration of a beloved person - although it starts out gloomy with the piano, guitar and then the violin...Then the speediness of the guitar and the drums hits you and you feel alive and awake. The drumming is very diverse and very exciting. But Tommy is right, the song gets a bit stretched out ... but the fact that it is a loving memory sets some limits for the lyric. However, it's only the lyric; their skills on the instruments are far out of this world.

The Count of Tuscany is so well put together; it's one of my faves on the album. Just the intro...when I heard it, I knew it was going to be something special. The chorus makes the song very strong and memorable and the silent psychedelic section is so Pink Floyd, it instantly reminded me of the song Echoes (check it out, it's so freaky... in a fantastic way), not in a copy way, however quite innovative and very interesting. The Acoustic guitar in the last "section" of the song is very well fitting, cozy and yet refreshing.

Just think about it: it isn't every band that can enclose an instrumental version, which is like a gift send from heaven to me :D however, Dream Theater can, and they know it. The instrumental is very interesting too, it's only a pleasure to be "allowed" to get deeper into each instrument and discover some new angles... and also a very good opportunity for some DT- Karaoke ;)The Cover CD is also like candy for my ears.

Okay, I am very positive about this release, well Dream Theater is my all time favorite band so that's the answer...however, I know what DT are capable of and they can do more than this, but this is an outstanding release.

Yes, when Kevin was in the band everything was genius, but I don't want to think about it... because we also have to appreciate what we have now and it's many years since Kevin left the band... and DT isn't just about Kevin Moore and his skills, it takes a whole band to create music, that overwhelms you like you didn't thought you could be overwhelmed, I'm not talking about this album specific... Think about Scenes From A Memory, I believe that Jordan Rudess proved his skills on that album - and what about Six degrees of Inner Turbulence?? I don't think you can "blame" one man. That's just my opinion.

I agree with Tommy it is 8.5

Rating: 8.5/10

Posted by Sandra
Sunday, July 19, 2009

Comment by Little Drummer Boy (Member) - Monday, July 20, 2009
Profile picture

View Profile

Comments: 166
Ratings: 46
OK...I think something must be said about Kevin Moore. KM left the band due to a personal change in musical direction. The obvious change in direction was when he wrote Space-Dye Vest for the Awake release. KM choose a direction that would not fit DT with the sound at the time let alone anything after that. KM is a fantastic musician and writer and his passion lies with Ambient Jazz Fusion (his project "Chroma Key"), hence the reason he works so well with Mathaos (Fates Warning). Try to imagine DT as an ambient prog 'rock' outfit. I can't. KM's musical direction just did not fit with the rest of the band as a whole. It was not meant to be.

JR has done a fantastic job with DT and I think Sandra's point about Scenes was dead on since that release is critically acclaimed and so will this one.

With that being said DT is the most talked about prog metal outfit in the world to this day and the fact that we are disusing which DT keys made their sound since their first release in 1989 is a testament to their dedication and promise to themselves. Not formulate their music to past success but remain true to themselves as passionate artists. And that is the key to their success as they remain innovators not imitators.

So this great debate shall continue :-)

Posted by Little Drummer Boy
Monday, July 20, 2009

Comment by Little Drummer Boy (Member) - Sunday, November 1, 2009
Profile picture

View Profile

Comments: 166
Ratings: 46
Best of Times has currently won me over and is on PTYP.

Posted by Little Drummer Boy
Sunday, November 1, 2009

Review by Tommy

Released by
Roadrunner - 2009

1. A Nightmare To Remember
2. A Rite Of Passage
3. Wither
4. The Shattered Fortress
5. The Best Of Times
6. The Count Of Tuscany

Progressive Metal

Related links
Visit the band page

Dream Theater - Official Website

Other articles
Awake - (Tommy)

Band information - (Tommy)

Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes From A Memory - (Tommy)

A Change of Seasons - (Yoni)

Train of Thought - (Hashman)

Train Of Thought - (Tommy)

An Evening With Dream Theater, K B Hallen, Copenhagen - January 20th, 2004 - (Tommy)

Interview with James LaBrie - (Tajs & Tommy)

Images And Words - (Tommy)

Awake - (Hashman)

Systematic Chaos - (Tommy)

Dream Theater with Opeth, KB Hallen, Copenhagen - September 27th, 2009 - (Tommy)

Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence - (Sandra)

Z supported shopping

1 - Horrifying
2 - Terrible
3 - Bad
4 - Below average
5 - Average
6 - Good
7 - Very good
8 - Outstanding
9 - Genius
10 - Masterpiece
666 - Unrated

More details...

Daily Spotlight
Candlemass - King of the Grey Islands
CoverThe Candlemass re-reunion with vocalist Messiah Marcolin didn't last for more than one album, some live shows and half an alb....
Read full review

Retro Reviews

Running Wild - The Rivalry
CoverThis was not only my first Running Wild album; I still hold this to be the bands greatest achievement and also one of the best Power Metal albums of all time. Nearly 69 minutes of music featuring ast....
Read full review

Yngwie Malmsteen - Facing the Animal
CoverAll hail to Mercury Records for releasing what was one of the most stand out Metal records in the nineties, which oddly enough came from a major label, especially at a time when most commercial record....
Read full review

 · Albums of the month
 · Retro Reviews

Back to the top - © 2002-2011 RevelationZ Magazine - Back to the top