Music Review: Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)


Dave LaBrie Sucks

Fine songwriting meets poor lyrics on the new Dream Theater album


From the many occasions on which vocals take the fun out of listening to music, the ones that stand out come from Dream Theater and Cryptopsy. Both have stimulating music and killjoy vocalists singing ineffective lyrics. Not that lyrics need to be effective all the time, but when the music is played with such conviction, it’s a wonder how the words being sung can be so dull. Cold Hate, Warm Blood is a great song by Cryptopsy, and a great example of how unintelligible shouting can make one cringe right from the first bellowed sentence. Even those who aren’t fans of James LaBrie’s singing style (s) will agree that he does justice to the music here.

Opening in dark metal style that will make you pay attention, John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy dive into a part that Metallica are (hopefully not) writing for their next album. 1:40 into A Nightmare To Remember, James Hetfield creeps up on James LaBrie from behind, snatches the mic and shoves him aside and starts jumping and singing gleefully. Not really, but he could easily do that, as could Dave Mustaine, going by how LaBrie’s singing on certain parts. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, Petrucci lets loose, and I’m half-impressed with LaBrie attempting Gothenburg-style vocals, but here comes the Metallica riff again. Hop, Rob Trujillo.

The guitar solos are definitely impressive, and one of them changes the mood of A Rite Of Passage. The style of the song is Megadeth shaking hands with Dark Tranquility. LaBrie begins Wither the way Atif Aslam would, but the song is not too bad. In fact, none of the songs are low on quality, they just take awhile to grow on you, like most other Dream Theater stuff.

Ho, what’s this? The Shattered Fortress is another riff from the new album ‘Tallica and ‘Deth are writing, but with keyboards and a Joe Satriani touch. There’s so much about what the songs from the new Dream Theater album sound like because one can’t help being reminded of other bands while listening to this album.

Not to say this isn’t ‘original’, it’s just that the similarities are right there in front of you. And Dream Theater eventually let every song find its identity and settle in its place.

The Best Of Times is a simple and straight song with Petrucci performing a guitar exercise every now and then. Their progressive nature outs itself on The Count Of Tuscany, which is more Dream Theater than the mildly gothic theme they’ve taken on.

The keyboards are okay, and you can’t really hear John Myung’s bass.

Bringing nothing new to the table, Dream Theater experiment with Black Clouds & Silver Linings, letting go of their progressive style almost completely, yet making a strong and satisfactory (for most part) album.


Black Clouds & Silver Linings is a strong album that grows on you, similarities to other bands notwithstanding.

RATING: 3.5/5

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