Dream Theater
Black Clouds & Silver Linings


4.0
excellent

Review

by Austin USER (41 Reviews)
July 1st, 2010 | 50 replies | 3,970 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Finally combining their recent metal sound with songwriting as excellent as their 90's efforts, the band deliver their best work of the decade.

9 of 9 thought this review was well written

The Journey Through Dream Theater, Part 11

Dream Theater’s future certainly had its own black clouds hanging over it since the band’s output has been fairly inconsistent since the 90’s. After the somewhat enjoyable but still very disappointing Systematic Chaos, the band needed to prove that they weren’t washed up has-beens in a genre that they once ruled.

And they have. With Black Clouds and Silver Linings, the band shows that they still have what it takes to put out quality material after two decades of experience under their belt, providing their best body of work since Scenes From A Memory. The songwriting is the band’s strongest in a decade. They keep their more metal sound that’s creeped in over the last decade, while still providing enough diversity to keep it from being a rehash of Train of Thought. Wankery still exists, but it’s much more controlled this time, so the band’s fans can breathe a sigh of relief that the songwriting takes precedent over the flashy sections.

The drastic improvement in songwriting is seen immediately in opener A Nightmare To Remember. The different sections of the song are fleshed out and there is a very clear direction throughout unlike many of the band’s previous epics. It’s a great metal tune for its first few minutes, driven by Petrucci’s riffs and a great performance from LaBrie, who has finally mastered his vocals in the heavy sections. The melodic middle section is spectacular, possibly the best heavy-soft transition of the band’s career. Even the signature Petrucci/Rudess solo tradeoff works well as a part of the song, although it’s certainly the least interesting part.

The band provides closure to Portnoy’s AA saga with The Shattered Fortress. It reuses riffs and vocal melodies of each of the other parts of the saga, and although this does make the track lack in originality, it’s a satisfying conclusion to a well thought out series. It’s got its fair share of wankery, but once again, the songwriting is strong enough that it doesn’t bring the song down. Those who haven’t heard the previous installments (The Glass Prison, This Dying Soul, Root Of All Evil, Repentance) should listen to those before listening to this, because it has a greater effect if one can recognize all of the repeated elements in the song.

The final two tracks really hammer home the band’s renewed songwriting, and these are the album’s two strongest cuts, without any wankery in sight. The Best of Times shows the band displaying a Rush influence for once, and it works well. It’s a lighter track about Portnoy’s father, focused almost entirely on melody, and thankfully LaBrie delivers and effectively carries the song. Petrucci’s solo in the final three minutes is one of the best he’s ever done, ranking up there with Under A Glass Moon and The Spirit Carries On. The Count of Tuscany takes the top spot on the album; in fact it even rivals such greats as Octavarium or The Glass Prison as the band’s best track of the decade. It’s largely instrumental, and every moment of the 19-minute epic is intriguing, from the building intro to the breathtaking mellow section in the second half to Petrucci’s excellent closing solo, there are too many highlights to even list. It’s a truly remarkable closer to the album.

Even though the longer tracks are a great demonstration of the band’s abilities, the two singles are equally vital to showing their skills. A Rite of Passage is a familiar but fun rocker, and honestly, every Dream Theater album needs an accessible song with a more simple structure like this to provide a contrast to the expansive epics. It contains some great quick-paced riffing, a soaring chorus, and an extended guitar/keyboard tradeoff in the bridge that doesn’t disappoint. Wither is probably the best ballad this band has put out since The Spirit Carries On. LaBrie delivers a commanding performance, and Petrucci’s short but powerful solo in the bridge is nothing short of spectacular. It’s a straight-up rock ballad, and a very effective one at that.

The only troubling thing on the album is Mike Portnoy’s insistence on using more of his spoken word harsh vocals. It’s not as laughable here as The Dark Eternal Night and it doesn’t really detract from the songs too much, but it’s not necessary and it doesn’t add the heaviness that is intended. Portnoy proves on The Best of Times that he can successfully utilize his vocals in the background to add to the melody, and this is where his vocal contribution should remain; in the background. Aside from that there is very little to complain about with the album.

Black Clouds and Silver Linings is a great return to form, showing each member at his respective best since Scenes From A Memory. This album has everything that a Dream Theater album should have: outstanding vocals, thrilling musicianship, and brilliant songwriting. Wankery is an element that will probably always be present to an extent in the band’s music, and it's still an occasional nuisance, but this time the band has negated some of their self-indulgent tendencies in favor of more focused songwriting. With a giant step in the right direction, Dream Theater has proved that they aren’t done yet, and they leave their fans in anticipation of what they will deliver in the next decade.

Top Tracks: A Nightmare To Remember, The Best of Times, The Count of Tuscany

Dream Theater is:

• John Myung – Bass guitar
• John Petrucci – Lead guitar
• Mike Portnoy – Drums, Percussion
• Jordan Rudess – Keyboards
• James LaBrie – Vocals



Recent reviews by this author
Alter Bridge FortressGrammatrain Lonely House
Riverside Shrine Of New Generation SlavesMark Tremonti All I Was
Shinedown AmaryllisBuckethead It's Alive
user ratings (1500)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Kenneth E. Rathburn (4)
    Dream Theater begin to rectify their compulsive habits....

    lak89 (4)
    Dream Theater have struck a musical balance between their metal and progressive side....

    Blake Reno (4)
    Dream Theater remembers how to write coherent music and creates their best album in a good...

    Aziz STAFF (4)
    Dream Theater have meticulously crafted an album that is a huge step in the right directio...

  • Jorn van Schaïk (4)
    Dream Theater finally rediscover their knack for songwriting, and deliver their best album...

    Motiv3 (4.5)
    For those expecting another disappointment like the last two albums, you may be pleasantly...

    Trey Spencer STAFF (4)
    Dream Theater expand their metal influences and deliver a collection of actual songs in th...


Comments:Add a Comment 
tiesthatbind
July 1st 2010



7373 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Here you are, the final part of my Dream Theater series.

Parallels
July 1st 2010



6641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

FIRST. This album king k. rooooolz


and im so glad i got to see this in concert. The Count of Tuscany was epiccccccc
great review of course Ties, im excited as to what you'll do next

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 1st 2010



15878 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

whoah, the DT discog is finally over! another good review...this is one of my favorite albums by the band.

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 1st 2010



31085 Comments


Do all the live DT albums
Do all the live DT albums

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Parallels
July 1st 2010



6641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

that would exhaust him to the point of despising DT

NeutralThunder12
July 1st 2010



8742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

their best since Scenes

Parallels
July 1st 2010



6641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

no progmaster. ToT is the best since Scenes
in fact, ToT is better than Scenes. Vacant is the best post-Kevin Moore ballad that DT has done, and even Scenes ballads arent perfect

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 1st 2010



15878 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

oh and happy 20th review bud

Emim
July 1st 2010



26614 Comments


Great review as always. I don't think I've ever seen a DT review without the word "wankery" in it ;)

Pos of course, though.

Bfhurricane
July 1st 2010



6197 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Congrats on finishing their discography! Excellent review, you inspired me to listen to this again tonight. Definitely a great album.

AnotherBrick
July 1st 2010



9770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

loveeeeeeeee this album

Apollo
July 1st 2010



10289 Comments


downloading now as I am seeing them with Iron Maiden in two days.

side note

I AM SO FUCKING STOKED

FadeToBlack
July 1st 2010



10913 Comments


dream theater = drink time

iron maiden = fun time

Apollo
July 1st 2010



10289 Comments


"dream theater = drink time

iron maiden = fun time"

Pretty much Fade

this review makes me want to try and to see if I can get into DT though. Never have much liked them
before

NeutralThunder12
July 1st 2010



8742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah the Scenes Ballads are pretty lame tbh except for Spirit Carries On. But Scenes is better than Train

AnotherBrick
July 1st 2010



9770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

1. scenes
2. black clouds

damnit sonic, we disagree on something

Bfhurricane
July 1st 2010



6197 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've seen Iron Maiden 3 times already, my broke ass didn't feel like dishing out $250 for sold out NYC tickets (I've already spent well over $1000 on Iron Maiden in my lifetime). Seeing DT by themselves in Mass. next week instead.

NeutralThunder12
July 1st 2010



8742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

whatever Images>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>The rest by a mile

AnotherBrick
July 1st 2010



9770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

images has 3-4 solid songs and the rest is meh

Apollo
July 1st 2010



10289 Comments


general admission tickets in Toronto were under $50

I am also broke and didnt want to pay more than that for floor seats



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy