Black Clouds & Silver Linings review by Dream Theater

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  • Released: Jun 23, 2009
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.2 (352 votes)
Dream Theater: Black Clouds & Silver Linings
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Sound — 10
Very Progressive sounding. Fantastic transitions between heavy and soft sound moments. The sound is certainly the traditional Dream Theater sound with a bunch of newer sounds added on to their signature sound. The sound is all that you can expect from a Dream Theater album. Imagine mixing Cynic, Opeth, Black Sabbath, Yes, and Pink Floyd all together. That is the over all sound of the entire record. Fantastic piece of music.

Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are mostly non fictional and very real life based. The lyrics generally talk about real life experiences (Good or Bad) with the band members of Dream Theater, mainly John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy. James Labrie, their vocalist sounded fantastic on this record. The lyrics were very meaningful and not the usual fictional stuff you hear Dream Theater writing.

Overall Impression — 10
I am a very old Dream Theater fan and this is my review of the entire record. 01.A Nightmare To Remember: this song is just pure heavy. The intro is probably the heaviest that Dream Theater have done. It talks about real life events on John Petrucci's fatal car accident. The song starts really heavy. To me it reminded me of a bunch of bands combined with Dream Theater, adding a little Opeth and Cynic in to play with Dream Theater's signature sound and this is what the track's intro is like. The song is like that half way through going in to a fantastic Yes or Pink Floyd type of transition with extreme mellowness. Once again the instrumental work is just fantastic on this track; the unisons between Jordan Rudess and John Petrucci are just as good as any. John Petrucci's tone this time was quiet different; the solo started like a powerful Zakk Wylde solo going in to the signature John Petrucci sound. While it was a shred solo it had a very melodic passage, which made it fast yet very musical, going in to an obscure unison between Jordan Rudess and Petrucci. So Dream Theater really gave a thunderous song to begin with. 16:10 is the time duration of extreme musical transitions. 02.A Rite Of Passage: A Rite Of Passage is another great track -definitely a great single. The drums really reminded me of the Falling In To Infinity era. To me it sounded like putting together Pull Me Under from "Images And Words, Burning My Soul"Falling In TO Infinity" and As I Am from "Train Of Thought" all together. Like there weren't any similar riffs but the writing style of this track was certainly similar to all these tracks mentioned above due to the sound. A great single -probably the best since Pull Me Under. 8:25 of great music. The solos on this track were both separated from one another. Once again John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess did a fantastic job on the solo sections. The drums really reminded me of the Falling In To Infinity era. To me it sounded like putting together Pull Me Under from "Images And Words, Burning, My Soul Falling In TO Infinity" and As I Am from "Train Of Thought" all together. Like there weren't any similar riffs but the writing style of this track was certainly similar to all these tracks mentioned above due to the sound. A great single, probably the best since Pull Me Under. 8:25 of great music. The solos on this track were both separated from one another. Once again John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess did a fantastic job on the solo sections. 03.Whither: now here is a song which really changes the mood.The guitar intro is totally chordal with great usage of reverb. The special thing about this song in particular is that it is completely composed and arranged by John Petrucci himself instead of having the others giving their input. The song is really well balanced with soft moments going in to a bunch of perfect well balanced distorted moments, very well mixed. This song is 5:25 and is the shortest song on the album, in my opinion it can easily get a nice radio play on all of the stations. If you like songs like "Another Day" and "I Walk Beside You" this certainly does not disappoint. My personal request to all of those that have been hearing these songs on You Tube: it's my humble request that guys please be true fans and get nice versions of the songs- the ones uploaded on you tube are of terrible sound quality so please before coming up with any assumptions against the album try to be more of the true fans before judging the record. Once again this is a fantastic single and I think this song would make a great video. Overall a wonderful track. 04.The Shattered Fortress: alright this song hasn't been a huge favorite of many listeners. I personally really enjoyed it not just because I am a huge Dream Theater fan and like anything and everything that they do but because this is the ending to the entire Glass Prison Saga. It started from The Glass Prison going in to This Dying Soul, going In To The Root Of All Evil, going in to Repentance, and ending with the Shattered Fortress. I don't know why some fans were disappointed with this track because it makes perfect sense since it's the ending to the entire saga that Mike Portnoy started writing from the Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence era. I was expecting it would have bits and pieces from every song that was linked with the Glass Prison. It kind of showed that now that all has been done and said it's time to end it and the way I saw it was the person who was once stuck in the Glass Prison was now free of all the bindings and all the frustrations due to his drinking problems and was now reflecting upon the past and finally closing the entire book. So to me this track felt right in place. People said it was too heavy and that kind of makes me laugh because this is the ending to the Glass Prison Saga. No one complained about that when The Glass Prison itself came out and if I can recall it's probably one of the most heavy and memorable tracks of Dream Theater. All I can say is people just can never be satisfied. I really heard this album from the day I bought it like probably 40 times to really come up with a solidified review for every track. So coming back to this track Jordan Rudess solo was really powerful .I don't know if many of you remember the keyboard solo that Jordan played in his own way in "A Change Of Seasons" from the Live Scenes In New York DVD; well his solo on this track was pretty much like that so it's very cool. John Petrucci's solo was outstanding. He used some very odd notes in the beginning of his solo and kept it very melodic. I was very happy with it .The solo could really take you back to his playing era of "Awake" so once again fantastic job. James Labrie sounded stronger then ever. I highly recommend people to give this track a listen like 5 or 6 times before judging it. It has a lot of the old stuff in it combined with some interesting new parts. 12:49 of adrenaline rush is what I would say about this track. 05.The Best Of Times: The Best Of Times is probably going to go in as a Dream Theater Classic! It's an extremely emotional track that Mike Portnoy wrote for his father "Howard Portnoy" who passed away in early 2009. And Mike really played the drums in a really musical way and really expressed all his feelings through them which was a treat. The intro begins with a beautiful Piano Intro linked with a few bars of beautiful violin played by "Jerry Goodman" and then beautiful acoustic guitars by John Petrucci. After that it takes an intense turn in to a very beautiful intense second intro which certainly reminded me of the band "Rush" so you can imagine how amazing that must be. And certainly this song reminded me of the "Scenes From A Memory" plus "Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence" era. Then the song takes a beautiful transition in to the same melody that was in the intro and then John Petrucci gives a solo which gave me the chills. It was probably the most perfect solo on the entire record. I mean I liked all solos but this certainly stood out. Like everything was well balanced. The fast parts were executed at the perfect time and then going in to very melodic parts. I think John Petrucci was outstanding on this track. The acoustic guitars in the middle were also very well balanced. James Labrie sounded fantastic on this song as well. He really gave a lot of emotions on this track. When you hear this track it would certainly remind you of your best of times. Fantastic song Dream Theater Classic. 13:07 of beautiful and emotional music. 06.The Count Of Tuscany: this is a real treat for all "TRUE DREAM THEATER FANS" -another epic. It's almost as long as "A Change Of Seasons" so well it starts off with beautiful clean guitars and keyboards, the first few bars would certainly remind you of "Another Day" then it goes in to beautiful unisons just like they used to do back in the "Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence" era. I can certainly say the unison was as good as any of the ones on Disc 2 of "Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence" then certainly it takes an entire other transition in to this darkness. The intro towards the darkness is certainly very powerful- the first few bars would definitely remind you of Rush's "YYZ" so, yea, that is fantastic and then it goes in to a very similar structure of writing like they had during the "When Dream And Day Unite" era then it went in to another change between mellow and heavy put together which fit perfectly and then James Labrie's vocals came in which weren't disappointing. After some really great riffs and ideas it goes in to this complete mellow transition where John Petrucci plays some wonderful whaling guitars with the usage of good delay. Lets just say that section was YES meets Pink Floyd and then after that the endings were probably some of the best Dream Theater have done. Honestly speaking, the ending was as good or even better than Octavarium's ending. The acoustic guitars were amazing going in to the electric guitars intensity. It was a beautiful ending. Certainly right up there with the classic Dream Theater endings to an epic. I would certainly say this Epic stands head to head with " A Change Of Season" and "Octavarium". This song was based on the real life events of John Petrucci meeting the Count of Tuscany. 19:16 epic just mind blowing musical sound scape. I think any true Dream Theater fan who is open to change and really believes in the term "Progressive" would really enjoy this record. Using You Tube and downloading bad quality torrents is just wrong. After doing so and commenting on the album is shameful. Be a true fan really, hear the perfect mix and then pass your judgments. I waited for this album to come out to enjoy it. I could have you tubed the songs and been like oh well it's nothing special; remember quality of a product affects the views of the listener. I would give this record 10/10 because it really is what it says behind every cloud there is silver lining. The perfect blend of Heavy and Dark moods going in to more emotional and soft moods and talking about some of the worst scenarios/events and coming out of from those even stronger than ever for a better and good future and trying to find something good within the bad. Behind Every Cloud There is a Silver lining-great concept and great record. For those fans like me who bought the special edition CD, their journey of musical satisfaction doesn't end here because there are two more discs. Disc 2 is a cover song CD and Disc 3 is an instrumental mix of the entire album "Black Clouds And Silver Linings". Lets talk a little about Disc 2 which is such a treat. 01.Artist: Rainbow-Song: Start Gazer: alright as most of you know the original consisted of the amazing Richie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio. Well, this track certainly was covered in a really amazing way and it really fit the Dream Theater sound. For all the James Labrie haters once you hear his vocals on this you would probably be a little embarrassed to criticize his vocals because he sang it so well. The cover is fantastic, a real treat indeed. 02.Artist Queen-Song: Funster/Flick Of The Wrist/Lily Of the Valley: this track is just epic. Queens are one of those classic bands which had a wide array of genres within their style so that certainly fit in to Dream Theater's covering catalogue. The cover was fantastic and according to Brian May (Queen's Guitar Player) it was the best cover of Queen that he ever heard. So you fans are in for a real treat with this one. 03.Artist: Dixie Dreggs - Song: The Odyssey: now for most of the die hard Dream Theater fans this is another treat- I mean if you are a Dream Theater fan then you certainly know who the Dixie Dreggs are. One of the best instrumental bands that comprised of legends such as Dave Larue on bass, Steve Morse on Guitars, and Rod Morgenstein on drums. All these guys are huge influences on the boys from Dream Theater. Steve Morse is like a huge inspiration for John Petrucci, Dave Larue is one of the favorites of John Myung's (Bass), and Rod Morgenstein is a huge influence on Mike Portnoy's drumming along with Neil Pert and Jon Bonham. So this song was fantastically covered by Dream Theater. Dream Theater also have a very intimate relationship with all these guys: one way or the other they have all played together in side projects and have been on tours together. 04.Artist: Zebra- Song: Take Your Fingers From My Hair: now Zebra is a band that many don't know about. The band was huge in the 80's; in fact maybe even before that they were huge in their local New York area and one of Dream Theater's favorite bands. The band still exists but they play in small clubs around New York and all so they are very under ground even after so many years. Zebra was also the first band Dream Theater ever opened for. So the cover was really well done. 05.Artist: King Crimson-Song: Larks Tongues In Aspic Pt.2: this is another fantastic Instrumental done to perfection By Dream Theater. The song is originally by Progressive maestros King Crimson which consists of Tony Levin (Champan Sticks/Bass) who has been in an instrumental band with John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess, and Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater called the "Liquid Tension Experiment" and this a real treat for all progressive fans. 06.Artist: Iron Maiden- Song: To Tame A Land: now Dream Theater have been known to cover Iron Maiden for a while, but this is one of those Iron Maiden songs that even Iron Maiden hasn't played live since the 80's in their live shows. This is one of those songs that is probably one of the greatest Iron Maiden tracks and is highly under rated. And Dream Theater kind of brought it back up again and in to the light. This is the only cover which wasn't recorded this year like the rest were during the "Black Clouds And Silver Linings" recording sessions. This was recorded in 2008 while on tour in Australia. But the band sounds fantastic, each and every member sounded great. So this was the perfect ending to the Dream Theater cover disc. The third disc is basically an instrumental mix of the entire album "Black Clouds And Silver Linings" and it's really fun to listen to. Also a great CD if you want to transcribe and work out all the riffs and ideas from the songs. So over all this has been one of the best albums that Dream Theater has written in a long time. I loved every bit of it. A huge treat for a real Dream Theater fan. Written By: Aman Hassan.

6 comments sorted by best / new / date

    flashmdg
    Kyle Crabbs wrote: flashmdg wrote: well all mastodon sing about is monsters and there are no comments about crack the skye being lame are there? What the **** are you talking about? I don't recall them talking about monsters in midst of Czarist Russia,Rasputin, and wormholes.
    Well almost all of the songs on Blood Mountain are about monsters
    Kyle Crabbs
    flashmdg wrote: Kyle Crabbs wrote: flashmdg wrote: well all mastodon sing about is monsters and there are no comments about crack the skye being lame are there? What the **** are you talking about? I don't recall them talking about monsters in midst of Czarist Russia,Rasputin, and wormholes. Well almost all of the songs on Blood Mountain are about monsters
    I'll give you that, but you were specifically referring to "Crack the Skye" (honestly I don't care about the subject matter as much as how it's delivered)that said I really wish someone would try to convince Mike to stop trying to be in Opeth (it's really not working)
    TwistClock
    The Didn't put any effort is supposed to be Did on my review. Thats rather annoying
    Martindecorum
    craigydoos wrote: Anybody who has anything negative to say about this album are obviously jealous musicians who feel the need to be critical over the slightest thing. The truth is DT in my humble opinion are one of the best bands out there, possibly of all time...the creativity, the skill, the passion are simply out of this world and I think Black Clouds is a climax of the past four albums. I read on this forum that they have done nothing new with this album, all been heard before, well thats ridiculous because when an artist paints a picture, that artists style can be seen through his whole portfolio, and its the same with DT, the good thing is their style is simply out of this world and never gets boring or tedious unlike most metal bands nowadays, when you've listened to the first song you've practically heard the whole album thus having no lastability, not so with DT, they sure know how to stir emotion, being sensitive and aggressive and for certain PROGGY! I love these guys and deserve more credit for their acheivements and ability because in a world where new music seems to be getting drabber, DT are a breath of fresh air and Black Clouds is no exception, I LOVE this album and i love DT
    This is true to every word
    DroogieSteve
    I feel like slitting Mike's pissing throat so that he can't ruin another Dream Theater song with his piss-poor vocals. Other than that, the album is pleasing enough. Bits and pieces seem to be repeating of the old stuff though.
    GoToSleep
    Good album. People stop crapping on JL. He's getting older and can't be expected to be as good as he once was. Listen to older DT albums and see he's amazing. Worst lyrics on a DT album to date, and MP NEEDS to stop with his nonsense of trying to sound metal. Constant Motion was about as much I can take with that. I still like Systematic Chaos better so far. I thought that one was much better than people give it credit for. Not the best DT album, that honor still goes to Awake.