Dream Theater
Black Clouds & Silver Linings


4.0
excellent

Review

by Blake Reno USER (3 Reviews)
March 30th, 2011 | 22 replies | 4,197 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dream Theater remembers how to write coherent music and creates their best album in a good while.

2 of 3 thought this review was well written

So, Dream Theater. That band where every member can basically blow your head off just by singing or playing their respective instrument. The band that has had the same guitarist, and bassist since 1985, the same vocalist since 1991 and the same keyboardist (less impressively) since 1999. They also had Mike Portnoy as drummer from 1985 until 2010 when he decided to quit the band, "Black Clouds" being his last album with them. So, obviously, they've been around a long time. I'm not going to give you their entire history...but I've never been a fan of their older or slower stuff.

So then, they give me this. A new album with songs that are mostly slow...luckily they learned how to make slow exciting with this album other than telling John Petrucci to play so crazy that his strings just melt off the guitar unless they were custom made by Tony Blair (See John Petrucci's Psycho Exercises on Youtube).

There are only six songs on the album, however this is quite deceiving, because this album is over 70 minutes long, with "The Count of Tuscany" clocking in at over 19 minutes alone. I'm a fan of long songs, but ONLY if the song in question can entertain me that long without droning on with the same thing over and over again.

Dream Theater, aka John Petrucci & Co. present to the listener a constant steady assault of amazing musicianship. But what makes this album so good for Dream Theater is that it's not a "Lets see how awesomely we can play our instruments and sing while somehow keeping everything in a coherent song" album. They actually took time to write their instrumentation into the song rather than write the song around their instrumentation.

What else is great here is that Dream Theater just seems more, you know, METAL. While keeping it to their usual heaviness in terms of tone, the riffs just seem more metal-influenced kind of like "Constant Motion" from their previous album "Systematic Chaos". However, the BIG difference is in the fact that they aren't trying so incredibly hard to sound so gritty and heavy when they are. Also, Petrucci (Guitar) and Jordan Rudess (Keyboard) keep their solos that take the song into face-melting land from out of nowhere mostly out of this album. What I'm saying is their solos actually make sense in the context of the songs.

The only complaints I have about this album are that the ending guitar solos in "The Best of Times" just exemplifies the kind of guitar wankery Pettrucci does out of nowhere. However, it is not as bad as it could be. Also there's about a five minute section in "The Count of Tuscany" that may as well just put me to sleep. I don't want to sit and listen to Petrucci play guitar harmonics for five minutes, that's boring, and I don't care if it fits in the context of the song, it simply makes me want to stop listening to the song.

So, Dream Theater finally remembers how to write coherent music instead of face-melting instrumental-thons with vocals and riffs just sprinkled in there. James LaBrie (Vocals) also steps up his game from "Systematic Chaos" going from just angrily saying words and finally returns to actually belting out some really high notes. Surprisingly for a Dream Theater album, this is pretty easy to get through, at least until that lullaby in "The Count of Tuscany" but if you can get by that, you're greeted by a great, great acoustic section and then the song ends in typical epic Dream Theater fashion.


user ratings (1407)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • lak89 (4)
    Dream Theater have struck a musical balance between their metal and progressive side....

    Austin (4)
    Finally combining their recent metal sound with songwriting as excellent as their 90's eff...

    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 
bloc
March 30th 2011



34489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love this album

Digging: Gamma Ray - Empire of the Undead

climactic
March 30th 2011



17165 Comments


you need to edit some of the phrasing since mikey p isnt around anymore

The band that has had the same guitarist, drummer, and bassist since 1985


Poet
March 30th 2011



5910 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Me too. The Count of Tuscany is just amazing.

beefshoes
March 30th 2011



2108 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Since when did Dream Theater forget to write coherent music?
Each album has had at least a few awesome songs.
The intro, the quiet section, and the outro section to The Count Of Tuscany are just beyond words for me. Wither and Best Of Times are awesome too.

booreno62
March 30th 2011



69 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@climactic: Yes, you're right, I wrote this review a while ago for something else, before Portnoy left the band. I'll get on that.

@beefshoes: I just felt that Systematic Chaos went all over the place, between the darkness the album exuded and then suddenly Petrucci bursts in with crazy guitar, it just seem to convey too many different ideas that didn't make sense together.

beefshoes
March 30th 2011



2108 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I loved the In The Presence Of Enemies songs.

booreno62
March 30th 2011



69 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So did I. May I recommend the staff review of Systematic Chaos, as I agree with most of what he had to say, though I didn't think it hurt the album as much as he thought it did (I gave the album a 3.5).

climactic
March 30th 2011



17165 Comments


yeah those were fucking sick

booreno62
March 30th 2011



69 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm also honored to have the famous bloc comment on one of my reviews.

tiesthatbind
March 31st 2011



7360 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I love that solo in Best of Times. Even with the shredding it has a lot of power and emotion that's often lacking in Petrucci's solos.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
March 31st 2011



16125 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Completely agree, ties. Incredible solo. Album is a great return to form after Systematic Chaos.

MO
March 31st 2011



17341 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

solid album, good review

Digging: Soundtrack - Turok 2: Seeds of Evil OST

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
March 31st 2011



18170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, album's excellent. I agree with ties and AoD the solo in Best of Times is amazing.

Digging: Benoit Pioulard - Hymnal Remixes

WashboardSuds
March 31st 2011



4884 Comments


nice review, Pos

I'm not too big on Dream Theater, only albums I've heard were Falling Into Infinity and a Change in Seasons

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins®

scissorlocked
March 31st 2011



3479 Comments


Dream Theater, aka John Petrucci & Co.

not really

Digging: Fantastic Mr Fox - Sketches

booreno62
March 31st 2011



69 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just sort of poking fun at Petrucci for blatantly taking songs in completely different directions and more or less becoming the whole band sometimes in songs. I didn't really mean that that's how the entire band is, they're an amazing group of musicians, no doubt about it. Even without Portnoy they still have four amazing musicians, hopefully the rumored new drummer, Mike Mangini will be able to fill the hole Portnoy left.

scissorlocked
March 31st 2011



3479 Comments


alright, now it's better!

booreno62
March 31st 2011



69 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good to hear!

Drsmith4
March 31st 2011



1693 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Terrible album, mediocre band. Good review.

booreno62
March 31st 2011



69 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

While I disagree with your first two points (we all have different opinions), thanks for the compliment!



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