CD Review: 'Black Clouds & Silver Linings' by Dream Theater

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Friday, July 31, 2009


"Black Clouds & Silver Linings"

Kindred spirits: King Crimson, Queensryche, Rush

Show: Saturday at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. 410-715-5550.

Dream Theater's 10th album isn't much of a surprise. Like most of the band's work, it's long (this one lasts 75 minutes over six songs), soaring prog metal. For all that, it's pretty good.

Few modern metal bands so frequently aim to be so epic, reliably churning out albums full of bombastic, self-referential mini-suites, with finger-splitting guitar solos, tasteful piano-violin interludes and synthesizers galore. Most of it works. The albums are across the map musically but consistent.

"A Nightmare to Remember" kicks things off, and it's winningly gothic. But its 16 minutes give a good sense of the endurance required of listeners. "A Rite of Passage" and "Wither" follow and are the shortest songs on the album (8:36 and 5:26), basic melodic hard rock. Then it's back to the 12-plus-minute grandeur.

Only the infrequent, silly death growls really miss the mark, though some of the instrumental breaks seem to meander. But at this point in Dream Theater's career, the sound is basically set, and so is the audience. With songs that length, the band is not going out of its way to become more accessible.

Its ambition is impressive and appealing, as is its musicianship. Dream Theater is worth checking out, and this is as good a place as any to start.

-- Alexander F. Remington

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