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Dream Theater: Black Clouds & Silver Linings

Dream Theater: Black Clouds & Silver Linings

Progressive Metal
Rating: 5.0/5.0

For those other than progressive metal fans Dream Theater is an elusive enigma. As one of the grandfathers of modern prog metal, Dream Theater, to the casual and indifferent listener, is known only as a quintet of very talented fellows who have a propensity for self-indulgent virtuosity in each performance.

Aficionados, myself included, would probably have to agree, but only to a point. Dream Theater's talent compared to their peers is so disproportionate that it's scary. And yes, more so on stage than on disc, their performances venture into equally disproportionate but compelling digressions. Some have even said their songwriting has suffered because of these characteristics (and blame it on Jordan Rudess). With Black Clouds & Silver Linings (BC&SL), Dream Theater's most accessible album of late, I believe even the ambivalent listener will discover what fans already knew: great talent and masterful invention produce brilliant music, excess or not.

Black Clouds & Silver Linings may be accessible, even more mainstream, but it's still pure Dream Theater in epic proportions. A listen to the nearly 20 minute Count Of Tuscany will prove this. Yet if you listen carefully, even with the length and grandeur, its inherent complexity rests on simple movements of symphonic keyboards, lush vocals and soaring guitars. The same may be side A Nightmare To Remember and A Rite Of Passage. Both are equally compelling in their individual parts, but these parts are woven so expertly into seamless and friendly arrangements that even the teenager suckled on Hinder could follow it. For shear mainstream compliance, Wither stands alone as a Dream Theater masterpiece. Again, only the most jaded listener could ignore this.

For fans, rest assured that Rudess, Petrucci, and Portnoy are up to their boundless capabilities on Black Clouds & Silver Linings. Yet, James LaBrie may be the true stand out here. His vocals show a greater depth of range than ever before being equally comfortable on the heavier The Shattered Fortress or the soaring Wither. A small attempt is made to modernize Dream Theater's sound with some growling vocals. Though not well done, they're hardly pretentious and they're probably best dropped from future compositions.

Black Clouds & Silver Linings is another fine and articulate progressive metal adventure from Dream Theater. The work is made even better by more adept songwriting which creates a greater musical coherency and accessibility that even the non-prog fan will enjoy. Highly recommended!

In Short

Black Clouds & Silver Linings is another fine and articulate progressive metal adventure from Dream Theater. The work is made even better by more adept songwriting which creates a greater musical coherency and accessibility that even the non-prog fan will enjoy. Highly recommended!

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