Black Clouds And Silver Linings - Dream Theater
Rumbling thunder opens up the massive opening track A Nightmare To Remember comes into action very quickly after the thunder stops, an aged James comes in strong and his vocals are lower but much more clear than the lower vocals on Awake. The car crash imagry makes the track very clear as to what it is written about although the lyrics fit in so many other ways. Petrucci delivers some stellar guitar work throughout the track with Portnoy relentlessly hammering at his drums. James' deliver of the Hopelessly drifting, bathing in beautiful agony is sublime. What a wonderful chorus. The complexity and the sheer emotion throughout this track makes in so clear why they have brought it back into the setlist, an absolute monster of a track and a brilliant opening track for the album. Portnoy, Petrucci and Rudess deliver on some stellar solos, the track feels dark and painful throughout. I love it although the more growling style is something I could have lived without, but it does fit the song's tone and message to end on this darker and heavier note. A Rite Of Passage is up next, and like the previous track it wastes not time getting down to buissness. Rudess' keyboards are quite strong throughout this track and the track as a whole screams for orchestral backing. Punchy with an epic feel to it A Rite Of Passage may not be as long as some of the other tracks here but it captures a strong and brutal approach incredibly well within its 9 minute runtime. James sounds great throughout and the backing vocal harmonies were also great. Wither slows down and holy shit has the band caught lightning in a bottle with this incredible ballad. While the song doesn't really have something which outright stands out as something to really dive into it really is the highlight as it is a perfect sum of its parts. The final component of the twelve part suit comes in, The Shattered Fortress it takes the approach back to being, Portnoy delivers a storm of drums in the first segment which is absolutely brilliant. The solo section following Restraint is absolutely brilliant Petrucci's guitar absolutely wails on his axe. Recieve calms down a bit taking a more tranquil approach Portnoy takes on vocals, for the spoken word section or at least I think that is him, the ending to Recieve isn't the strongest as it segues into the final part of the suite with Responsible which begins with an extended solo from Petrucci much like how Restraint ended, and the short vocal section is incredibly powerful and really comes full circle from what I assume the start of Mike's journey would have been with someone helping him get started on his journey. The Best Of Times opens with the ticking of a clock and then some violin comes in along side the pianos of Rudess before a calm acoustic guitar comes in and the track continues along its slow introduction until the 3 minute mark where the tempo shifts drastically and the entire back kicks into action, James sings in a way that really feels like it belongs in a lighter type of music on the opening verse, not a complaint it just felt quite commercial in a sense and it really is a great sounding delivery. There is a feeling of fondness delivered in his tone and the song upon some searching was dedicated to Mike's father so the fondness makes sense being a song looking back upon the times spent with a loved one who has passed away. Rudess does a great job delivering some excellent keyboard fills throughout the track. Another brilliant track start to finish. The outro of this track just absolutely soars. The Count Of Tuscany closes out the album, the longest track taking up over 25% of the albums length. It features a building introduction which is a wonderful instrumental passage, it does shift at bit around the 3 minute mark becoming more circuis like before suddenly shifting into a direct rocking approach, James once again sounds really strong upon his entry. The more rasp? filled vocals don't really suit the music to me, the track feels its length in spots but at the same feels quite engaging. Cutting down the length slightly would have been a good choice. As a whole I think the track is fairly good but not really on par with the other 5 tracks of the album. The synthy segment really could have been cut it just goes on too long, when the whole band is involved the song is pretty good but it just doesn't need to be this long or bloated.
A Nightmare To Remember - 10/10
A Rite Of Passage - 9.5/10
Wither - 10/10
The Shattered Fortress - 9.5/10
The Best Of Times - 10/10
The Count Of Tuscany - 8/10
That was a magnificent trip Wither is easily the strongest track for me but wow is this album high quality. From what I can tell this is a major difference between most people for this album and myself but I quite enjoyed this album.