Band: Dream Theater

CD Title: “Black Clouds & Silver Linings”

Band Website:

Label: Roadrunner Records


Release Date: 2009


I remember saying to some friends that if I ever need a solid prog-metal fix there are a few bands I like to turn to and one of them is Dream Theater. I don’t have every release but I have many, my favorite being Octavarian. It was almost out of reflex that I picked up their latest Black Clouds & Silver Linings and to my ears they’ve really brought all the elements together, these compositions are heavy and yet provide ample breathing room, there’s plenty of symphonic orchestration and choirs everywhere. This disc just scorches!


Black Clouds & Silver Linings starts off with a classic horror story, “A Nightmare to Remember” [16:10] begins with rain and thunder before a creepy tap piano plays a haunting melody and then a loud crack of thunder before the band launches into the mega-mammoth introduction. Crunchy guitars are plowing through chords, choirs are singing, bass and drums are pounding away and then everything shifts again into an up-tempo rocker for the vocals to come in. Whew! Dream Theater creates music with a “take-no prisoners” approach. It’s a full on assault to the senses. Now, having said that the thing that has always appealed to me about DT’s music has been the fact they aren’t afraid to slow everything right down and insert ample opportunity for something mellower. Even in the first track at the five-minute mark of this epic, we have sound effects of an emergency room, sirens, voices and the music has slowed down completely with more of an acoustic feel.  These guys know how to craft a well-rounded song. And long ones too; there are only six-tracks here four of them over ten-minutes, one just about twenty-minutes. My favorite tracks would be “The Best of Times” [13:07], a majestic, anthemic, orchestrated epic followed closely by “The Count of Tuscany” [19:18] which is probably DT’s most well rounded prog piece…dare I say a masterpiece.


It goes without saying the Dream Theater faithful will be all over this new release. But if you’ve been hesitating about some of the heavier prog offerings out thereBlack Clouds & Silver Linings is a great place to start. You can pick up the 3-disc special edition that comes with a disc of covers and a bonus disc of instrumental mixes, though I must admit the instrumental mixes didn’t do it for me. In many cases the melody line provided by the vocals is the unifying factor for Dream Theater’s music and not having LaBrie’s vocals in place simply highlighted something missing from the music. Highly recommended.