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Dream Theater – Black Clouds & Silver Linings

Label: Roadrunner
Format: 3- CD set
Released: 2009
Reviewed By: Rich Catino
Rating: 10/ 10

After 20 years and 10 studio albums (plus several live releases, E.p.s and a Greatest Hits compilation), Dream Theater continues on their Salvador Dali progressive musical journey as they venture into black clouds with a silver lining.


‘A Night To Remember’ unveils this latest Dream Theater painting with storm cloud effects, keyboards, and a slow but short build before guitar, bass, and drums kick in for this 16:10 musical adventure. Like their previous release "Systematic Chaos" (which I really liked), "Black Clouds" follows the game plan predominantly with long songs like the twelve minute ‘The Shattered Fortress’ (which given the grinding guitars and keyboard tone easily could have fit on the album "Awake"). Ballad ‘Wither’ is the shortest track (5 minutes) of the six letting James LaBrie showcase his talents. ‘The Best of Times’ starts as a somber acoustic/piano piece quickly morphing into an up tempo Styx, then Kansas like spirited rocker.

First single/video ‘A Rite of Passage’ is of epic proportions, with a great catchy head banging riff and drum beat, to the effortless transition into the solo section where guitarist John Petrucci and keyboardist Jordan Rudess delivery a stirring array of notes with John Myung and Mike Portnoy holding down the heavy metal rhythm section. Champion!

The production and mix on "Dark Clouds" is also one of DT’s best. Nice and clear, the guitars are crunchy, and on the obviously Rush inspired (listen to those drum fills, bass lines, and keyboards) ‘The Count of Tuscany’ Portnoy’s skills sit atop the arrangement. One of Dream Theater’s strongest!

The 3-cd set is worth it. Disc 2 includes six covers including killer versions of Rainbow’s ‘Stargazer’ and Iron Maiden’s ‘To Tame A Land’. Disc 3 includes instrumental mixes of each song from "Black Clouds & Silver Linings".

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