Dream Theater – Black Clouds and Silver Linings


Artist

Album

Black Clouds and Silver Linings

Label

Roadrunner Records

Year

2009

For Fans Of

Planet X – Between the Buried and Me - 3

Summary

Progressive Metal’s titans return.

Rating

80 / 100

Two things become painstakingly clear upon listening to a Dream Theater album. Firstly, the bands records are marathons not sprints – an album with only six songs clocking in at well over seventy minutes is testament to that. Secondly, when Webster or Oxford brings out their next edition of dictionaries perhaps they should just place a picture of Dream Theater under the word ‘progressive’. 
 
There is no need for pleasantries or introductions on ‘Black Clouds and Silver Linings’. The band launch straight into a sixteen-minute epic with opener, ‘A Beautiful Nightmare’, which serves as a musical buffet, showcasing elements of prog-rock, dark melody, old school rock and dare we say black metal. Anyone looking for something short and sweet has obviously never heard a Dream Theater album before. Either that or they are incredibly naïve.  

If Between the Buried and Me are the apprentices of progressive metal then Dream Theater deserve to be the masters (for the time being at least, ‘The Great Misdirect’ might change that). Skinsman Mike Portnoy makes you want to burn your drum kit and start all over again. The level of technical proficiency from him and for that matter the rest of the band is in itself worth the listen.  
Shortest track ‘Wither’ has a touch of sentimentality to it – a mid-paced ode that contains prominent keyboard sections coupled with sincere lyrics (‘and everything is clear, I break down and let the story guide me’). ‘The Shattered Fortress’ is driven by solid double kick work and sets a frantic pace that claims the title of the albums heaviest track. 

There certainly are not any black clouds forming over the progressive beast that is Dream Theater, rather just silver linings that are sure to captivate the musical landscape for years to come. 

Conclusion

Dream Theater do not have flashy hairstyles or wear skin-tight jeans but their music is anything but mundane. ‘Dark Clouds and Silver Linings’ is an exercise in complexity, challenging preconceived boundaries of genre. Haunting and dark, mesmerising and fierce, Dream Theater continue to evolve.  

Tracklisting

  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

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