Black Clouds and Silver Linings
Dream Theater released Black Clouds and Silver Linings last June, achieving what just about anyone would consider successful acclaim after the album debuted at number six in the Billboard Top 200. This is even more of a success for a band that churns out 16-minute epics on a regular basis – effectively bringing progressive metal within the ranks of Lady GaGa and Hannah Montana.
The band is a five-piece troupe of virtuosic professionals regarded as demigods within the prog-rock realm. But as has been the case throughout their past few albums, Dream Theater has shown that they too can write commercial, radio friendly songs that sound more like Linkin Park than King Crimson or Rush. Fans of their virtuosic tendencies shudder when they hear these tracks, while others desperately try to justify them. “Wither,” the weakest number from BC&SL, is nothing more than a basic power ballad while “A Rite of Passage” is another of Dream Theater’s increasingly redundant radio singles.
Dream Theater has long coupled masterful songwriting with forgettable lyrics, which is somewhat forgivable since most of their listeners completely ignore the lyrics anyway. Lead vocalist James Labrie’s voice is more like the band’s fifth instrument than the central hub of the band. But guitarist John Petrucci would do well to further perfect his impeccable playing ability rather than write elementary-level lyrics about an evil count in Italy. It’s hard to take their songs seriously when drummer Mike Portnoy grunts out words like courtesy, kindness and happiness like he’s the Cookie Monster or a rally truck commercial’s voiceover track.
Labrie himself finds a much mellower and narrower range in BC&SL than in their previous albums – perhaps the product of age but certainly a pleasant alternative to his former operatic wailing. Maybe he should give the lyric thing a shot.
Give these tracks a listen:
A Nightmare To Remember
The Count of Tuscany
For fans of: