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Dream Theater Black Clouds & Silver Linings Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Still pursuing their uber-muscular progressive metal agenda with ruthless dedication.

Sid Smith 2009

One doesn't so much listen to Dream Theater as get overrun by them, and ten studio albums in, the band are still pursuing their uber-muscular progressive metal agenda with ruthless dedication.

Their undoubted collective instrumental firepower is deployed like a bunch of marauding marines with anger management issues, slipping the leash and swarming over everything in their path.

The relative subtleties of their symphonic aspirations laid out in 2005 on Octavarium are pushed aside in favour of six tracks that are mostly of the 'pumped-up, psyched out, hyper-inflated, super-fast, flat-out in yer face' variety.

Harsher in tone and texture than 2007's Systematic Chaos, with constantly exploding fusillades of cavernous drumming and snarling guitars that'll slice through steel at 30 yards, there's not much room here for anything too delicate or understated.

To get anywhere near that you have to go through four tracks of bombast-heavy bashing before you arrive at The Best Of Times. Even then it's only a matter of minutes (2' 55'' to be precise) before the listener is blasted back into the high-octane cut and thrust of it all.

True, John Petrucci's souped-up athletic guitar runs are amongst the quickest things you're ever likely to hear.

However one person's thrash is another's idea of brash and whilst it's easy to understand the exhilarating sense of momentum such advanced technique affords the group, it's unrelenting nature quickly palls to all but the faithful. Sometimes it's not what you’ve got that counts but how you use it.

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