Black Clouds & Silver Linings [Special Edition]

Black Clouds & Silver Linings [Special Edition]

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by Dream Theater

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After finally running out their 13-year, seven-plus album deal with a poisonously indifferent Atlantic Records via 2005's workmanlike Octavarium, progressive metal standard bearers Dream Theater took advantage of their well earned free agent status to enjoy a heated courtship from several interested


After finally running out their 13-year, seven-plus album deal with a poisonously indifferent Atlantic Records via 2005's workmanlike Octavarium, progressive metal standard bearers Dream Theater took advantage of their well earned free agent status to enjoy a heated courtship from several interested labels, before eventually settling on the artistically simpatico Roadrunner. But, ironically, Dream Theater's first album for the label that heavy metal built, 2007's Systematic Chaos, was relatively accessible by the group's standards, complementing every epic and complex composition with a comparatively concise and hooky song, thus leaving it to its 2009 successor, Black Clouds & Silver Linings, to really flex the band's progressive metal muscles to their maximum girth. And in fact, Dream Theater's tenth long-player is about as dense and challenging as any album in their daunting discography (and certainly the darkest of spirit since 2003's Train of Thought), by emphasizing not only the virtuoso members' ever stupefying musicianship, but also their most aggressive and thoroughly metallic songwriting tendencies. Sixteen-minute opener "A Nightmare to Remember" and its half-as-long follow-up, "A Rite of Passage" (later edited further for release as the album's first single), quickly establish this agenda via frequently thrash-paced staccato riffing, some of John Petrucci's most blistering guitar solos ever, and the return of drummer Mike Portnoy's syncopated growls (no doubt inspired by his pal Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth), providing contrast for singer James LaBrie's soaring melodic elegance. Third track "Whither" -- a tender ballad and mere babe at five minutes in length -- is this album's only concession to commerce (and one of Dream Theater's better stabs at the form it is, too); but after that it's right back to prog rock in excelsis, via the final chapter in the band's "AA Saga," "The Shattered Fortress," which references songs from previous albums such as "The Glass Prison" and "The Root of All Evil," in emulation of the "Conceptual Continuity Clues" method favored by one of Portnoy's heroes, Frank Zappa. Only two, not surprisingly massive song suites remain now, and interestingly, both pay evident tribute to Rush! First up, "The Best of Times" boasts an extremely Alex Lifeson-like lead guitar motif and verse chords that were clearly evolved from "The Spirit of Radio," later showcasing the most versatile and classically steeped performance on this record by keyboard wizard Jordan Rudess. Second, the revealingly named "The Count of Tuscany" (surely a thinly veiled allusion to the Rush's famed instrumental, "La Villa Strangiato") catches Portnoy in the act of outright Neil Peart worship, colluding with Petrucci on their own version of "Xanadu" before leading their bandmates into another heady prog-metal magnum opus brimming with more ideas, notes, and time changes over 19 minutes than most bands bother with over a ten album career. That last bit sound at all familiar? That's because, at the end of the day, one must admit that Black Clouds & Silver Linings, for all its abundantly positive qualities and minor but clear distinctions from prior efforts, is still an archetypal Dream Theater album; one that's unlikely to broaden their audience all that much, but is conversely guaranteed to thrill their hardcore converts with its renewed devotion to the most exigent and stimulating facets of the band's chosen musical domain. [A special edition was also released.]

Product Details

Release Date:
Roadrunner Records


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Dream Theater   Primary Artist
Jerry Goodman   Violin
James LaBrie   Vocals
John Myung   Bass
John Petrucci   Guitar,Vocals
Mike Portnoy   Percussion,Drums,Vocals
Jordan Rudess   Keyboards

Technical Credits

Freddie Mercury   Composer
Steve Morse   Composer
Ritchie Blackmore   Composer
Ronnie James Dio   Composer
Robert Fripp   Composer
Paul Northfield   Engineer
John Petrucci   Composer,Producer
Mike Portnoy   Composer,Producer
Hugh Syme   Art Direction,Illustrations

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Black Clouds & Silver Linings 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
InsaneCrazedJuggalo More than 1 year ago
this band is the best of the best they truly know how to make awesome music at least they are not fakes or frauds or hacks like other artists i know dream theater rocks they keep geeting better and better as they release their studio albums dream theater are talented and also gifted i love mike portnoy on drums and john myung on bass james labrie on vocals and john pertucci on guitar and dont forget jordan rudess on keyboards this band is just amazing just amazing you seriously have to buy this and the rest of their studio/live/bootleg albums dream theater is the best of the best
3shiftgtr More than 1 year ago
Well, as a musician, I loves me some Dream Theatre. As a listener, I have always loved me some Dream Theatre. But my interest in them is waning. As a long time fan, they have defined their style to point of it being a bit confining. The band is primarily envisioned by drummer Mike Portnoy and guitarist John Petrucci. And while Jordan Rudess, James LaBrie, and John Myung (keys, vox, bass) deliver their usual stunning performances, I don't hear too much of their creative hand. And after over a quarter century of music making, their input might just give them the "thing" that is missing. Since signing with roadrunner records, they have focused their music into a tight "prog metal" sound, rather than a "progressive, with metal influences" sound of their previous releases. It seems like a small difference, but one of the things I love about DT is their willingness to push boundaries. Well now it seems that they have created some boundaries in order to more fully define themselves. Which to some, ain't a bad thing. Black Clouds and Silver Linings is as great as any disc in the DT cannon. Not one of their standouts, to be sure, but a great listen nonetheless. Long songs that read more like mini concertos, than prog rock opuses. And that is good. Great virtuostic playing throughout, and that is good. Great riffs, and melodies. And that is good, too. And the final song of the disc, The Count Of Tuscany? That is worth the price of 2 discs. While not filtering more influences into their music to keep long time listeners blown away with each new album, they are still making the best and most interesting prog metal out there. And this disc shows the good, the great, and the teeeeeny bit of bad.