Starting off, I know I'm late to the party when it comes to black clouds and silver linings, but I just feel I need to express my disappointment. It's kinda long, and probably not very well written, so feel free to gloss over it and keep on your merry way.
I've been a fan of Dream Theater for a long time. I own all of their albums (except for scenes from new york) , and own many of the side bands (Liquid Tension Experiment, Jordan rudess's solo albums, etc.) albums. I love(ed?) their music, and I appreciate how much effort they put into their music. I didn't enjoy their first album, or Systematic Chaos, but their other music managed to make me smile, to make me feel apathetic, to feel hate, and Space Dye Vest even managed to make me cry. The band members are virtuosos at their respective instruments, and manage to create music that reflects that. Long intro aside, I like their music. I do not however, like their newest album, Black Clouds and Silver Linings.
My initial thoughts? This is the most generic sounding Dream theater album to date. Horrible lyrics with largely face value meaning (The count was easily the worst in this respect), cheesy guitar rhythm, and very little venture into time other than standard. Wither was a cheesy track through and through, and seemed to only serve as a track to break into mainstream music.
About halfway through the album:
Trudging through the first few songs of the album, a track suddenly caught my attention. That was shattered fortress. Initial glee from hearing this track quickly wore off and other than petruccis incredible solo, the outstanding parts of the track seemed to be the recycled/improved riffs. This song is followed by The best of times, a song safely in DT territory. Petrucci's solos are less fret-wankish here! Could this be the Dream Theater I know and love? Then, the count starts playing. The previous question is answered with a resounding "no". An incredibly predictable song, trying to be much more than it is. I've already mentioned the lyrics, so I won't venture there. Petrucci manages to keep his solo work excellent though. Labrie also is incredibly consistent with which notes he hits, and this is probably one of his better albums.
I was wanting this to be incredible. I wanted it to match and exceed their earlier albums in terms of musicianship, not speed. Maybe I was expecting too much, maybe this album isn't all that bad compared to their other albums. It may be the band is burned out, or that Mikes fathers death affected him too much. Maybe the new label (roadrunnner) is causing them to feel pressured to sell their albums, Heck, it could be that I'm looking for and drawing notions of depth not present in their earlier albums. After the disappointment that was systematic chaos, maybe I was expecting an album that would completely blow me out of the water, one that would get the band out of the slump they have been in.
Whatever. This is getting too long.
I don't like their album much. [/rant]