Friday, April 30, 2010

Music Review - Dream Theater - Black Clouds and Silver Linings

Dream Theater ranks as one of my all-time favorite bands. There's nothing about them I don't like; from the insanely long and complicated songs and solos, the virtuosity of every member of the band, the self-referencing that appears on ever album, everything. I love this band, and I say that about very few band in the metal world.

Black Clouds and Silver Linings is the tenth full length album from Dream Theater, and in my opinion ranks as one of the best albums they've put out. I'm not a huge fan of their earlier music, from When Day and Dream Unite(their first album) until Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory, which I consider the bands high point and the high point of the entire progressive/rock/metal scene. I'd honestly put that album above Pink Floyds Dark Side of The Moon as the greatest album of the genre. While BCASL isn't quite on that level, I'd certainly rank it in the top 3 or 4 best albums Dream Theater have ever made.

After the previous album, Systematic Chaos, (which wasn't a bad album on its own, but for Dream Theater, it was pretty weak) I didn't have terribly high hopes for this album. Thankfully the band decided to basically do the opposite of Systematic Chaos, which is to say that they put a heck of a lot more effort into the songwriting than on SC. The writing here is the strongest its been in years; from the heavy and hard-hitting opening track to the gargantuan 20 minute Count of Tuscany to the arena rock ballad of Wither, the band is in absolute top form. This is Dream Theater firing on all cylinders, and the result is amazing. John Petrucci really gives a stellar performance (as always) on guitar, with some insane solos, heavy, complex riffs and some fantastic acoustic playing. Mike Portnoy is his usual brilliant self on drums, with a few really fast double-bass and even blast-beats thrown in, which is a first for Dream Theater if I'm not mistaken. Keyboards and bass, handled by Jordan Rudess and John Myung are both brilliant as well, though both are slightly more in the background than on previous albums, with less keyboard and bass shredding and placed in more supporting roles, though the keyboards do break out in a shred on occasion.

My favorite part of Dream Theater, however, is James Labrie, whom I consider to be one of the best male vocalists alive. I absolutely love his voice, and I think I'm in the minority for this, but I consider him to be a brilliant singer. While he's not hitting those ear-splitting high notes like on the first DT albums, he still puts on quite a show, with highs, lows, and everything in between belted out perfectly. While I happen to think his best vocal performance was on the Score 20th Anniversary tour for Dream Theater, this is definitely one of his finer moments.

Black Clouds and Silver Linings is Dream Theaters best album in years, and is hopefully a good indication of where the band is going musically in the years to come. Highlights from the album would be The Best of Times, a tribute to Mike Portnoys deceased father and one of the best Dream Theater songs ever written; Wither, a terrific power ballad; and A Nightmare to Remember, which is one of the bands heaviest songs in years. For anyone who likes virtuoso playing, brilliant song-writing and all around flawlessly executed music, this album is for you.


  1. Interesting review --- this was my first book by him too, and once I got into it (which took awhile), I thought was brilliant.

    Have gone back and tried one other one, didnt involved me at first, will likely try again.

    I am now curious to see the movie version of this one; so much was internal, how will they make that fly?

  2. I think you commented on the wrong post, so Ill redirect you to go the The Road book review post:)

  3. I'm a big prog fan of original vintage, but I never really got Dream Theater - perhaps you could point me to a compilation of a few tracks, and I'll give 'em another go.


    that song is basically the entire Scenes from A Memory album packed into 3.5 minutes. if you like that, youll like dream theater.

  5. Ok but not my cup of lark's vomit. Each to their own, eh?
    Judging by some of the comments after the vid, DT seem to be a nerd magnet! :)

  6. well a least you gave it a good listen, id still recommend you check into some of thier stuff, almost every album is really different from each other, so id still say check em out further. what bands do you listen to?

  7. Porcupine Tree, Soft Machine, Sigur Ros, Mahavishnu, Mars Volta (last cd a needed return to form), Laura Marling, Van Der Graaf Generator, Clash, King Crimson (all eras), Julian Cope, Can, Faust, Neu!, Bowie (up to 1980), Hendrix, Yes, Genesis (Gabriel era), Duffy, 13th Floor Elevators, Stones, Doors, the list is oof course, endless!
    What floats your boat?