Black Clouds & Silver Linings

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Band Name Dream Theater
Album Name Black Clouds & Silver Linings
Type Album
Data wpisu 23 Czerwiec 2009
Wyprodukowany przez
Styl muzycznyProgressive Metal
Zarejestrowanych posiada ten album432

Tracklist

DISC 1 - BLACK CLOUDS & SILVER LININGS
1. A Nightmare to Remember 16:11
2. A Rite of Passage 08:36
3. Wither 05:26
4. The Shattered Fortress 12:49
a/ Restraint
b/ Receive
c/ Responsible
5. The Best of Times 13:09
6. The Count of Tuscany 19:16
DISC 2 - UNCOVERED 2008/2009
1. Stargazer (Rainbow Cover) 08:11
2. Tenement Funster / Flick of the Wrist / Lily of the Valley (Queen Cover) 08:18
3. Odyssey (Dixie Dregs Cover) 08:00
4. Take Your Fingers from My Hair (Zebra Cover) 08:19
5. Larks Tongues in Aspic Part 2 (King Crimson Cover) 06:32
6. To Tame a Land (Iron Maiden Cover) 07:16
DISC 3 - INSTRUMENTAL MIXES
1. A Nightmare to Remember 15:39
2. A Rite of Passage 08:36
3. Wither 05:29
4. The Shattered Fortress 12:47
a/ Restraint
b/ Receive
c/ Responsible
5. The Best of Times 13:20
6. The Count of Tuscany 18:48
Total playing time 3:16:36


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Artykuł @ Vinrock666

09 Marzec 2010
Dream Theater’s “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” is comprised of three CDs. This review covers CD number one.

As with all things Dream Theater, what makes them great can sometimes also be their greatest fault. A great analogy of this point would be stand up comedian Dennis Miller. No one questions his intelligence or his ability to write a joke, but if a joke is too smartly written the audience won’t get it and thus the joke won’t work. The solution, therefore, is not so much to dumb down the material but to choose a reference the audience can understand and relate to. Instead of Confucius, try Yoda, see? Dream Theater is without question masters at what they do, and no one questions that, but at their worst they have been guilty of playing over the heads of their audience before. Only when they pull back their complex nature will their audience fully appreciate their creation, and with their 2009 release “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” they have done just that.

Of the six songs, four of them are double digit minutes long with a fifth song clocking in at over eight. As protracted as they are, though, the songs feel shorter and the two main reasons for this is 1) the reduced number of movements within each piece and 2) the simplification of the main and secondary themes within each movement. What that means by Dream Theater’s definition of simple is that of those said themes they are longer, repetitive, pronounced, and dominant. “A Rite of Passage”, the eight minute song, greatly illustrates this with only two main riffs – one for the verses and one for the chorus, and the order of which they are played is straightforward and traditional with an ABABACAB format (the C being the solo section) – so simple, and yet so highly effective and memorable. “A Night to Remember” is over sixteen minutes long but with only four movements. “The Count of Tuscany”, the opus of the album at more than nineteen minutes, has also only four movements. Only “Wither” has one movement, and at less than six minutes, that could be the single of the album!

By no means is it to say that the band’s masterful playing skills are hidden or diminished here. The stratospheric heights of lead guitarist John Petrucci’s virtuosity are very much prevalent, but it’s contained in the solo and instrumental sections of the compositions. The solo from the third movement in “A Night to Remember” is simply sick with virtually every kind of technical skill making a proud showing. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess is just as impressive especially with his solo additions mimicking the electric guitar as his main synthesizer sound. As for drummer Mike Portnoy, his best work may be found on “The Best of Times” – an emotional piece both happy and said with a well defined, long noted main theme that doubles as a backdrop so that his playing is the featured part.

The overall sound of the album also follows under the same central philosophy. “Black Clouds with Silver Linings” is a litany of heavy rhythms. It’s less progressive and more metal. With the exception of the balladesque “Wither” all of the songs are anchored with heavy guitar lines (rhythm and bass) that both stay longer and carry the tune without multi track accompaniments. Again, this falls under the same scaling back principle of not having every sound all the time and being complex for complexity sake. Only “The Best of Times” has a violin. The piano is only used twice (“A Nightmare to Remember” and “The Best of Times”). Even the opus “The Count of Tuscany” with its many parts, variations, and theme changes will only slightly use acoustic guitar, mystical keys, and yes -chimes.

Perhaps the only other noteworthy aspect of “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” worth mentioning is the vocals. There appears on a couple of songs some lines sung with a coarse, throaty style so different from lead singer James LaBrie’s typical pitch that it may be possible it’s from another vocalist. Whether or not those lines are sung by someone else isn’t really important but what is, though, is the result. It’s an added dimension that yields a most positive result.

Dream Theater is arguably the greatest progressive metal band ever but that doesn’t always guarantee a great album every time they put one out. As with all art, a connection must be made with the audience first before it’s place can be ascertained. With “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” Dream Theater has made a very accessible record. Because of that, their genius is very easily recognized and as a result it is a masterpiece and one of the very best metal albums to come out in 2009.

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Artykuł @ Vinrock666

17 Marzec 2010
Dream Theater’s “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” is comprised of three CDs. This review covers CD number two.

The second part of Dream Theater’s 2009 multi CD release, “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” is a collection of cover songs subtitled “Uncovered 2008/2009”. Analyzing covers is always a tricky task because the central question is always what constitutes a good cover – is it one that stays true to the original, or is it one that’s presented as an interpretation with creative license used by the band? With Dream Theater; however, there is even a third question: is their version better than the original? What is amazing about how Dream Theater approaches covers, then, is how they manage to address all three questions without ever revealing their own answers as if that task rests solely on the discretion of the listener.

So, here are five tunes and one medley (Queen) from bands both popular in the metal community (Rainbow, Iron Maiden) and unknown (definitely Zebra and maybe Dixie Dregs). To answer the first question, all of the songs stay true to the original from a compositional standpoint. Nothing is added or taken away. The Queen medley is an obvious exception in terms of the cutting between the three tracks but that’s it. The differences can be found in two areas. One – Dream Theater is a progressive metal band, which means that the balance and the levels of these songs are set in that style. They’re the same songs, but here they sound cleaner, more polished, and in an extreme sense evolved. TwoJames LaBrie will sway from singing from his patented vocal style to an almost emulating mimic of the artist he is covering. This is most evident in the Queen medley, and to be fair to the band – replicating the signature chorus sound of Queen simply cannot be done. How LaBrie handles that here is purely up to the listener.

The second question is also presented by way of line up. For example, in Iron Maiden there are two guitarists on the song “To Tame a Land” but Dream Theater only has one. One of Jordan Rudess’ greatest contributions here is ‘playing’ the second guitarist. The result is same part, different sound. One of the coolest parts of the whole album is hearing one of the guitar solos on “To Tame a Land” synthesized with sitar.

Finally, the third question is posed when hearing either unfamiliar songs or songs uncared for originally. The Randy Jackson penned “Take Your Fingers from My Hair” will probably be the most unfamiliar tune on this CD but the Dream Theater sound is so ever present, the odds of it being liked by metal fans will remain quite high. Does that make it better? The only real answer to that is the Dream Theater version is cool regardless, and that should be the overall reaction when hearing “Uncovered 2008/2009”.

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Artykuł @ Vinrock666

20 Marzec 2010
Dream Theater’s “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” is comprised of three CDs. This review covers CD number three.

The beauty, magic, and artistry of any song’s music can sometimes be unfairly overshadowed by the lead singer’s natural foreground position. Of course, the more there is to any song, the less individualized attention is given to any specific part or track. Songs are therefore received by the listener (and in an extreme sense – judged) based on the sum of its parts rather than the parts themselves. Dream Theater’s bonus CD on “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” is comprised of instrumental mixes of the original album. With all due respect to the great James LaBrie, this disc more than anything else they have ever released before showcases the sheer brilliance of their music’s beauty, magic, and artistry in the best way possible – by itself.

Of the many observations that can be made by listening to the instrumental mixes, a few should definitely be noted. One is what keyboardist Jordan Rudess calls ‘continuum’. What is so much more clearly heard on this CD is his seamless contribution on every track. Verse lines are almost the complete domain of the singer and with good reason. What’s amazing here is that there is depth after all and Rudess’ constant contributions make it so. His featured parts on “The Count of Tuscany” is his best showing and interestingly enough, he is backed up on one part by John Myung’s bass line – something not easily caught on the original album.

Secondly, although Dream Theater is arguably influenced to a small degree by the sounds of seventies era Rush and Pink Floyd (“The Best of Times”, and “The Count of Tuscany”), it is not so much as to say that their signature sound isn’t their own. In fact, an oceanic size of this album’s music is firmly rooted with very many metallic riffs. “The Shattered Fortress” explodes out of the starting gate with some furious staccato rhythms, and “A Nightmare to Remember” is just as gargantuan in the size of its metallic element. More than anything else, what guitarist John Petrucci, drummer Mike Portnoy, and bassist John Myung show here is that what really comprises the core sound of the band isn’t the progressive elements but the metal. Add Rudess’ continuum and “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” becomes really a meeting of the two sounds rather than a merging. This is what really comprises their signature sound.

Finally, without lyrics to steer the listener towards a projected idea or subject, the imagination can run wild and with such a wide range of sounds, tones, speeds, and movements, one can really create their own themes to parallel what is being played. Take “Wither” for example. It’s sweeping and inspiring, light and emotional. Anything imagined that matches those moods will find a personal connection with the music of that track, and so on. If anything else, that little mind exercise can only enhance the overall musical experience Dream Theater provides.

In the end, the absence of James LaBrie doesn’t make the music of Dream Theater better, but by not hearing him a higher sense of appreciation for all that goes into their music can be attained. It is that good, and along with the original “Black Clouds & Silver Linings”, Dream Theater has made the strongest argument for metal album of the year in 2009.

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