Label: Roadrunner Records - 1686-178838 • Format: Box Set Limited Edition Collectors EditionCD Album CD Compilation CD Album 2x, Vinyl LP, Album 180gr.DVD DVD-Audio, Partially Mixed • Country: US • Genre: Electronic, Rock • Style: Prog Rock, Heavy Metal
Best viewed without Internet Explorer, in x resolution or higher. Before I begin this review, I just want to say that for a very long time, I loved this album. I thought it was one of the best Dream Theater albums and it felt like there were just too many great moments on this album to count. The truth is, though, that in between the best parts of Black Clouds and Silver Linings lies a sea of mediocrity.
The record opens with "A Nightmare to Remember," a song describing a kid in a car accident. The The Underground - DJ Rob / DJ Paul* / DJ Waxweazle - Heroes Of Hardcore - Rotterdam Edition riff is epic and ominous, but, again, we're describing a kid experiencing a car crash, not two armies fighting at the edge of the universe.
That mismatch in tone -- melodrama and epicness coupled with a stupid narrative -- is a theme that reappears throughout the album. I suspect that at this point, the band really had nothing to write about anymore, hitting a creative wall. Lyrically, the song is absolute garbage -- even for Dream Theater standards. Personally, I can't quantify how much I hate the moment where James LaBrie says "I am responsible" with such idiotic obliviousness.
I was expecting the finale of the suite to subvert some of the motifs and themes we saw across the last five Dream Theater albums; instead, it regurgitates those themes and melodies, and is incredibly boring as a result.
It's a touching tribute Album his father, with an awesome Petrucci solo to top it off. However, it's nothing extraordinary, and it comes off more as a personal song from Mike Portnoy than as a creative effort to share with the world. As a result, it feels a bit out of place. The same can be said for the two shorter songs on the album; "Wither" is a ballad in the vein of 's "I Walk Beside You" or 's "Forsaken;" radio-friendly, agreeable, loud, forgettable.
Speaking of forgettable, "A Rite of Passage" is a song that should have never been recorded. It is, in my opinion, the worst Dream Theater song written in the Mike Portnoy era. Lyrically, melodically, musically, unimpressionable, and a piece of garbage. The album ends with "The Count of Tuscany," a minute epic that describes a misunderstanding with an Italian dude.
If the vocals weren't a factor -- and BOY do I wish they weren't -- you might think this song was describing something else enitrely. Like the opener, the melodrama of the song does not match with the idiotic, simplistic lyrics.
Between the beautiful guitar work in the and the second half of the song lies a pretty annoying verse and anthem-like chorus that, once again, clashes with the song's narrative about John Petrucci being scared of a weird Italian guy. It doesn't help that in the pre-chorus, we once again hear Mike Portnoy rap behind James LaBrie whining through his nose. It's a god damn shame, too, since the ambient mid-section of this song is probably the best part of the album.
Like I said, however, you have to wait through long, boring, mediocre swaths of music to get to the brilliance in this album. I didn't want to get in on the whole Portnoy-Mangini topic in what is supposed to be a professional-ish review, but I can't shake the feeling that this album suffers mainly because Mike Portnoy's hands are all over it. He tries too hard on the longer suites and possesses way too much of an influence over this album.
I could see why he would feel burnt out after this, especially because for the most part it's a pretty uninspiring record. I remember at my local radio station, finding a copy of this with a note from a DJ to "play the longer stuff, ignore the rest" and I think that's a fair Album of the album as a whole. Beside the first and last track, the album is somewhat forgettable to me.
I know a lot of Dream Theater fans love this album, but I think it could have been a lot better if the band took a break. Dream Theater, after all, never struggles with making complex or emotional music -- most recently, they've continued to suffer from uninspiring writing and poor narrative ideas. This will take a life of its own on their self-titled record and on The Astonishing, but my point is that this album shows those symptoms blatantly, and is disappointing as a result.
I haven't reviewed any Dream Theater albums so far, not because I don't care about the band or haven't actually got any albums, but more because - as a stubborn Englishman - it's taken me a long time to mentally prepare myself for misspelling "theatre" a dozen or so times during the review.
As such, I'll try to stick to DT for everyone's sake. There's also another reason that I haven't reviewed any DT albums as yet, and that's because the band's music isn't exactly to my taste. I tend to find some of the Album DT albums a bit wishy-washy and inconsequential, which is my personal reaction to them being classically "proggy", something that I don't have a great deal of time for.
Also, my sister Ein Sæl Kyss - Sigrid Moldestad - Sandkorn DT, my sister being the barometer for anything that is too cheesy or pompous for normal people to enjoy in a normal way.
The effort currently on the dissection table bears that "heavier" stamp as well and in my view benefits a lot from it, sounding commanding and puropseful with the weight of John Petrucci's guitar thundering out some big riffs in 'A Nightmare to Remember', 'A Rite of Passage', and 'The Shattered Fortress', which looks to take Opeth on at their own game a game Opeth have now lost if one cares to remember.
The heaviness comes in part from the guitar tone, which is bold and fat though with plenty of classic appeal; there is also an effort to riff in a decidedly metal way, as can be seen from the downtuned? In the same vein, the heaviness of some of the instrumental passages Ha Én Rózsa Volnék - Koncz Zsuzsa* - Jubileumi Koncert things energetic between verses, which is especially important when trying to maintain attention during 16 or even 19 minute songs.
It's a testament to DT's impressive planning and interesting musical ideas that those lengthy songs don't become testing experiences, because I don't find myself drifting off or growing restless during 'A Nightmare to Remember' nor 'The Count of Tuscany', which certainly happens to me during other DT albums like Awake I guess it was named ironically.
Indeed, both of those songs must go down as some of the best exercises in extended songwriting and storytelling that I can think of, since the plot of LaBrie's lyrics is as gripping as you would hope, particularly in the closer, where you wait a good 5 minutes through an instrumental break to find the conclusion of the story, the other four musicians keeping the suspense alive the whole time.
There are a lot of memorable moments in those instrumental sections too, what with the great keyboard theme to the opener, the excellent guitar and keyboard solos in 'A Rite of Passage', and the consistently diverting and atmospheric closer. I could go on for a long time about the qualities of these songs, but let a single example suffice: I once had a dream in which I played through the entirety of 'The Count of Tuscany' in my mind and I'm pretty sure every section was present - it's certainly a memorable listen.
All of the musicians are important to creating the greatness of those songs, but James LaBrie deserves a special mention. It's natural to assume the skill of the instrumental members given their pedigree, though LaBrie has often been the weak link in the band, sounding a little tired or too plaintive to fully convince. Here, he has more powerful backing to work with, which helps him a lot, though he also pulls out some great changes and immensely powerful performances, the pinnacle of which is that unexpectedly heavy part of 'A Nightmare to Remember' alongside the electric chorus of 'The Shattered Fortress'.
That said, there are moments where he still struggles, such as on the ballad 'Wither', which my sister wouldn't bat an eyelid at but I have quite a problem with, emotional overblowness and all that. The same thing happens for large parts of 'The Best of Times', the lyrical sentiment being really unsubtle and overdone: Thank you for the inspiration Thank you for the smiles All the unconditional love that carried me for miles It carried me for miles But most of all, thank you for my life.
This is only made worse by LaBrie singing in this kind of gay "I'm opening my soul" way, though the instrumental sections are alright, the closing melodic solo helping to eradicate the nasty taste in my mouth.
Those less tasty aspects of DT must be expected to some degree I suppose, it's just a shame that it leaves the album unbalanced, since the best songs A Nightmare To Remember (Stem Mix) - Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings (Box Set other four are all really good. The softer songs could have done with less overbearing emotion, thus providing a respite from the heaviness elsewhere, though I know there are people who will lap up that kind of Broadway obviousness.
I heartily recommend having a listen, but only if you know what to expect of Dream Theater: complex and captivating instrumental ideas, nasty ballads, and American spelling. This album was my first proper introduction to Dream Theater, so I've got a lot to owe it - it helped me get into one of the most celebrated prog metal bands of all time. World Cup Chit-Chat - Various - world cup bend it!
u.s.a.1994 this is probably their best representation in album form, albeit more a dedication to the longtime fans than something to draw a new crowd in like their self-titledI still enjoyed it greatly.
It took a while to get into, but I love it. As far as Dream Theater albums go, this is definitely one of the heavier albums - made apparent by track names such as "A Nightmare To Remember" and "The Shattered Fortress" and it delivers on that heaviness. This is partly due to, if a riff appears twice in a song, it will be varied somehow.
Portnoy's drumming, once again, fits perfectly with the rest of the music, which seems almost as if it's scored in tandem with the instrumentals, as opposed to merely added. A good example is the escalating intensity of round-the-kit rolls in the full band intro in "The Count Of Tuscany". I also find that, on this album certainly, there's an element of groove in the overall style and execution of each song. It's hard to describe with any word that isn't 'infectious'.
One of the most interesting Antidoto - Nórdika - Antidoto (File) I found was "The Shattered Fortress" which, after some digging and noticing similarities between this and "This Dying Soul" off of Train Of Thought, I found out about the step suite, and that "The Shattered Fortress" was in fact the climax of said suite. It certainly feels like a climax, especially with the fade-in of pounding drums and guitars and epic synth-strings.
Also, despite this being quite a heavy album, each song, save for "A Rite Album Passage", has a very nicely worked-in softer section to counter-balance the heaviness on offer, which gave me some of the greatest pleasure on the entire album.
A prime example of this is Jordan Rudess's lap-steel solo in the middle of "The Count Of Tuscany", which for me was a seemingly-endless mental ocean of elation and tranquility, before the coda to by far my favourite track on the album. The covers on Disc 2 are also excellent. Dream Theater manage to take the song, make it seem familiar to fans of the original and STILL put their own epic spin on it.
Before I actually checked, I was convinced that they were originals too, and they're quite a wide mix of impressive covers as well, with Album such as Queen, Iron Maiden, and some one-hit wonder Going Down - The Raging Nathans - The Raging Nathans band from the 80s called Zebra.
I would go so far as to say that what Dream Theater adds to these songs makes them superior to the originals. I think the added touch of synthesized sitar helps bring a more Arabian feel which evokes wandering a war-torn desert, perfectly fitting the subject matter the song is based around Frank Herbert's "Dune".
If anything, the entire package is Jordan's album. His keywork is present and mind-blowing on pretty much all the songs, and it manages to impress me every time I listen to it, and envy the fact that, despite being something of a pianist, I could never dream pulling what he does.
Disc 3 is a bit of a throwaway, containing the six originals in instrumental form, i. Ok, so maybe it's not THAT much of a throwaway, but unless you're planning a Dream Theater karaoke night with some of your friends, I can't think of much else to do with it.
Still interesting, but it would have been nice to keep the solos, because that's a key aspect of Dream Theater's sound and nature. In all, this album is primarily fan service, but it can and did draw in a new audience, and it's a wholly spectacular offering. Even with the pointless instrumentals on Disc 3, I would recommend you get the special edition as the covers are very good, managing to stay true to the originals while adding a little extra flavour.
And even if you get the normal version which only contains Disc 1, you're still in for a voyage of metal ecstasy! Dream Theater, on this record, do not venture out in wild territories with experimentation but rather perfect and refine all the elements that they have helped define to work together in a cohesion such was never seen since the days of Awake.
Where the record works, is in the composition of the six majestic tracks, tracks whose individual sections flow into each other almost magically just A Nightmare To Remember (Stem Mix) - Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings (Box Set well as the tracks evolve into each other. The composed music turns out to be an uphill task, both for the players to play and listeners Place To Sit - Go National - Got My One Good Eye On You digest, so very technically challenging and profound does it get; a complex layer upon layer and layer after layer of smoothly evolving notes flowing smoothly as the waves of a calm ocean.
The six tracks presented are highly consistent in excellence of their quality so that this very well might be their most consistent effort since the masterpiece Awake. The opener, A Nightmare To Remember, plays with genres and bends them to its will, as in the space of 16 minutes it goes from its atmospheric opening to a choppy and even thrashy section which then evolves into an almost psychedelic part which then transforms into a blast beat section, with all of the above said transitions composed and executed with a flair of such professionalism as was seldom seen.
I would also like to single out The Best of Times for its emotive lyrics and an out-of-the-world guitar solo by John Petrucci towards the end. Black Clouds and Silver Linings is highly recommended for fans leaning more towards the progressive A Nightmare To Remember (Stem Mix) - Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings (Box Set of the genre. The album is strong A Nightmare To Remember (Stem Mix) - Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings (Box Set its composition, rich in its musical variety and consistent in its quality and is sure is a great and fulfilling musical achievement in annals of the band.
After the Is Apollo Still Alive? (vProjekt Version) - Rave The Reqviem - Remix The Reqviem album Metropolis II: Scenes from a Memory, Dream Theater's next four albums would be an interesting forray of experimentation that polarized and heavily divided fans. And signing with record label Shalala キボウの歌 - AAA - Attack All Around didn't help either, as many hardcore fans accused the progressive metal outfit of "selling out.
Those problems are, for the most part, not the case for Black Clouds and Silver Linings, as it proves to be one of their most solid lineup of songs with certain tracks deserving of classic status. Despite the album having only a surprising six songs, this still remains one of Dream Theater's longest albums, as four out of the six tracks run well past the ten minute-mark. A six-song certainly has Album advantages, as the band clearly Ibrahim Electric - The Marathon Concert its time and put in a lot of effort on each Nightingale - Eddie Davis* - Goodies From Eddie Davis. This is not surprising as the title captures the unifying theme of the album: five out of the six songs deal with deeply emotional and at times, traumatic experiences from the bandmembers' only John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy, mind you lives.
With this in mind, the band is at some of their most emotional and often times in storytelling-mode. And it is in telling stories and capturing their emotions is why the band is at its strongest in this album.
Not to mention the instrumentation and frequent solos are as fantastic as usual and James LaBrie's singing is Album powerful, melodic, and emotional. A Nightmare to Remember starts off the album and the Black Clouds half of the album, which is an over-sixteen minute story of a childhood car accident John Petrucci and his family were in. It's this track that the band shows off it's ability to tell a story using its progressive stylings, transitioning melodies and sound from soft and heavy to capture every moment of the story, whether it's the eerie keyboard build-up with rain sound effects in the intro, the aggressive riffs leading up to the accident, and the somber melodies of Petrucci in the hospital.
Shalamar - Uptown Festival, Frankie & Johnny - Dan Fox , Dick Weissman - How To Play The Blues, Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen - MTV History 2000: The Greatest Hits I-II, First Sunrise Of Time - Inget Namn - Inyan Kara (File, Album), Tournaier Messe - Syntagma Musicum Ensemble* - Music Of The Middle Ages And The Renaissance (Vol. 1