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Friday, 26 June 2009

(Spoiler!) Dream Theater's "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" - First impressions

As I've mentioned before, one of my favorite music genres is Progressive Metal. And my favorite progressive metal band is Dream Theater. Therefore, it was with much joy and excitement I received their brand new studio album in the mail today.

After listening to it once, these are my first impressions and reflections (spoiler alert!):

- Beautiful artwork by Hugh Syme. Feels more like "traditional Dream Theater". Less dark and chaotic compared to the previous one ("Systematic Chaos"). Actually has much in common with the "Awake" cover. That blue sky in the opened door resembles the sky in the mirror of their 1994 album. The sand, an eye, planets, clouds, the logotype in the sand. Many things that can be found on the "Awake" cover. Gives a sense of recognition and nostalgy - which fits the albums themes well.

- Great intro with the thunder and rain for first song, "A nightmare to remember". Great double bass drumming throughout this one. Probably the best "drum track" of the record (I'm a drummer myself...)

- Rudess' sometimes use almost too many effects in some solos, almost drowns the virtuosity of his playing (at least for me, not being a keyboardist).

- Don't remember very much from the 2nd one ("A rite onf passage" - believe it was one of the first singles, but the 3rd one "Wither" is another beautiful DT power ballad.

- "The shattered fortress" is about the final steps of Mike Portnoy's "12-step program" suite. Like a medley containing bits from previous parts and a great conclusion of the series.

- Then comes "The best of times", the song that struck me as a lightning bolt. Not for it's insane virtuosity or insane time signature. But because of it's beauty. This may be the most beautiful song DT has written so far. And seeing in the booklet that it is actually a dedication from Mike to his father Howard, who passed away this year, makes it even more powerful. A moving and beautiful statement and the song that made the strongest impression during my first spin of the record.

- The sixth and final, "The count of Tuscany", is a typical great DT epic, making me think of "A change of seasons" as well as "Octavarium", much because of Jordan's wonderful continuum solo.

- And that was it! Six songs and it felt like time just flew by, leaving me longing for more. Which must be a good thing. One last thing I noted was that one song reminded me of the song "Surronded", where it picks up speed after the slow intro. But I'm not quite sure which one it was. Better listen to this great album again. May turn into one of my favorites...

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