Black Clouds & Silver Linings review by Dream Theater

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  • Released: Jun 23, 2009
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6 Neat
  • Users' score: 9.2 (352 votes)
Dream Theater: Black Clouds & Silver Linings

Sound — 6
Now I must attest, when I first heard this album I was absolutely floored by it. I thought it was the coolest cat in the street, the heaviest rock in the Andes. But then a strange thing happened: I listened to it again and felt a little underwhelmed. Then I listened it to it again and felt even more underwhelmed. Thus is the problem of Dream Theater's new album: It appears strong and progressive on the outside, but once you look a little deeper it feels fickle and run of the mill. The album opens on a strong point with the suitably creepy piano introduction for A Nightmare To Remember. This leads into a very heavy section that at first sounds great, but is very derivative of anything modern in metal. This then goes into a Metallica riff (I know Portnoy said that Petrucci wrote the riff before he heard Metallica's "That Was Just Your Life" but I'm not sold) which has all the typical metal and Dream Theater trappings. And this brings me to the major problem that I have with this album. It is "typical Dream Theater" there is nothing particularly innovative or evolutionary, just more of what we have heard of them before and as such it just comes across as uninspired and lazy. Sure there are million notes per second shred sections and amazing instrumental wizadry (well not with Portnoy or Myung who seem to have taken a rest in practicing on this album), but it just comes across as tepid, unexciting and repetitive.

Lyrics — 6
This is a hard one for me to judge as two polar opposites are present. On one end of the polarity you have LaBrie whom is singing better than he ever has before. Gone is the whininess that has plagued his vocals for about a decade now, and in its place is a fearsome vowel of confidence and strength. But then we have the other end of the polarity: the lyrics. Every set of lyrics on this album written by Petrucci (which is all except The Shattered Fortress and The Best of Times) are some of the cheesiest, most ill fitting lyrics that I have ever heard this side of Shadow Gallery. Sure in some songs they are not so bad that they detract from the music, see A Nightmare To Remember, but in some songs the lyrics suck so insanely hard that it is almost impossible to give the music any credit. An example of this would be a pre chorus section in The Count of Tuscany where I must say that it is impossible to shout the lines, "Let me introduce my brother, A *something* gentlement, historian, Distinguished accent, sucking on his pipe, making me uptight, no accident." I laughed insanely hard when I first heard these lines. And this brings me to my initial conundrum we have a great vocal performance from Labrie marred by the actual words being spewed from his mouth, so which one do I choose to rate? I think I may go for an average...

Overall Impression — 6
Despite all the bad things I have said about this album it is still Dream Theater, and as such is better than most of the music being released today. Dream Theater have stuck by their guns through their career, but it is beginning to turn to a fault as they are becoming predictable. And to be honest if you have heard all their other albums you don't really need to hear this one, as it is just more of the same. And not done as well as their earlier material.

11 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Rattlehead EOR
    wtf? i think this is one of Dream Theaters best in quite a while cause well i prefer heavy Dream Theater over not-so-heavy Dream Theater. And for you people who say the album sucked... unless you can write or play music like them dont say anything. This is seriously one of their best. Probably my 2nd fav behind Train of Thought.
    sinForge xJp
    sucubus wrote: additionally i feel portnoy has taken over too much and is blocking every1 else's creative output ie labrie, rudess and myung.
    well, going by how long the songs were... it was really a "Portrucci" album. I mean an album can only be so long, and they've always been the principal song writers... idk. I agree tho, that Myung has had some of the best lyrics in their works... and I will say that they should put LaBrie's name in some credit form if he had ANY input whatsoever.. I'm sure he had some say in his vocal lines... anyway yeah.
    Great album. Standout parts for me were the "Peaceful Sedation" section in ANTR, Wither on the whole, all the nuggets in Shattered Fortress, John's amazing solo in Best of Times, and everything in Count of Tuscany. In that song especially, Rudess, Petrucci, and Labrie are the best they've been in years. Lyrics are a bit wonky, but it stll kicks Systematic Chaos' ass on all fronts, and reminds me of how great SDOIT was.
    I honestly think ints futile to judge or rate each Dream Theater album in correlation to another. The brilliance of these composers is not just in their technical ability nor the progression within their song structures, but the progression between albums. I think the defining characteristic of many DT fans is their inability to comprehend or allow for such departures from previous albums, they can tolerate the progressive nature of songs by nothing else. For me the most enthralling aspect of DT is that no one release sounds the same as another, an to truly appreciate the individual genious of each album requires continued attention, so to categorically state that the album is sup-bar at its inception does not do it justice. Whilst there are certain facets of the album I personally do not agree with, such as the quantity of songs, this perspective is ultimately subjective, and you shouldn't take mine nor any others review of this album as absolute irrefutable fact. All I advise is you give yourself time account for this album, not to immediately deride it.
    Well, I bought the album right after school on tuesday, and have been listening just to it since, nonstop! I know for the die hard DT fans they like I&W and Awake, but for me, it seems since they picked up Rudess is when they hit the money. I love Change of Seasons but Awake I&W and FII I only like about half the album. I can honestly say I know and enjoy Scenes on through Black Clouds A Nightmare to Remember: Awesome opener, nothing to crazy on guitar but very Dark and Raunchy A Rite of Passage: Sort of like Constant Motion, reminds me of a single to bring in new listeners but still maintaining their orig style Wither: Kind of wish I didn't find out what it was about, but their voices harmonize so well together and is a very good ballad Shattered Fortress: I like how they brought back all the old riffs from the saga, kind of choppy at first but its growing on me as I listen to it more Best of Times: Very Rush-esque in my eyes. I really don't listen to rush but reading the review did make it click in my head that it did have that prog jumpy light feel to it. Count of Tuscany: My personal favorite, another epic to add to ITPoE, Octavarium, 6 degrees, and A change of Seasons. Masterpiece!
    simply love the new album... I don't fckng care about the old school DT's fans... the music changes and I like when dream gets heavier. You all piece of S**t criticize Dream theater and I can say that no one of you retards can even make a song.
    Rattlehead EOR
    i agree with soloh completely! I mean all you Dream Theater fans stuck in the past with images and word... Personally i would rather listen to anything Scenes from a Memory and above over Images and Word. Mostly cause i really dont like Kevin Moore at alllll i prefer Jordan. and i really enjoy Dream Theaters more heavy side more than their progressive side
    It seems that some DT fans are never satisfied. It seems that each time that DT release a new album, they expect a new Images And Words, but they don't get it, so they think it sucks... Just because the album isn't as good as Images And Words it sucks! Pretty stupid imo. Anyway, I think this album is awesome! In fact, it's so awesome that when I listened to A Rite Of Passage I thought it was awesome, but now that I've listened to all of the album, I think it's very average. It's a great song, but it's very average compared to A Nightmare To Remember, The Shattered Fortress and of course, The Count Of Tuscany. These songs are just incredible! They're epic, they're full of great riffs, great melodies and catchy bits! I'm not completely into The Best Of Times right now, but it gets better each time that I listen to it and I know that I'll love it soon. Finally, Wither is a good song, but it's very average compared to the rest... BUT almost everything is average compared to the rest! I give 9/10.
    "It is "typical Dream Theater" there is nothing particularly innovative or evolutionary" So what?
    i personally loved Systematic Chaos, i played constant motion for a scholarship audition and got it so thank you Dream Theater for that. anyway, i've only heard A Rite of Passage(badass song and badass solo!) A Nightmare to Remember(awesome song, solo not so much but it'll grow on me) and most of Wither(excellent song! loved it) and i'm pretty happy with all of that. i don't understand why everyone complains about this album and systematic chaos. it really reminds me of MetallicA fans. Images and Words = Master of Puppets. the old stuff is great, but it's time to move on guys. They're not the same musicians they were back then, their styles change so the music's gonna change. I'm sure this album is going to be my favorite for a while after i hear the rest of it, after i've heard it, i'll post a review of my own. maybe a more open minded review will help PS reviews are meant to help people decide whether or not to buy the album, not so you can whine and b*tch about how much it doesn't sound like Images and Words or to complain about how you didn't like Systematic Chaos, this is a review on Black Clouds and Silver Linings so review THAT
    i think it's funny that people are complaining about how crap this album is for dream theater, and giving it bad scores, when it is possibly the best album to be released this year.