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Black Clouds and Silver Linings 
Artist: Dream Theater 
Label: Roadrunner Records 
Length: 6 tracks / 75:22 min 

After the overly Muse-influenced Octavarium and the par-level Systematic Chaos, progressive metal icon Dream Theater has knocked one out of the park by packing an album with epics. Four of the six tracks on Black Clouds and Silver Linings clock in at longer than 12 minutes, enabling the band to showcase a tremendous amount of versatility within the space of each song. The remaining tracks, the groovy headbanger, “A Rite of Passage,” and the rock ballad, “Wither,” are strong in their own right. 

Of particular interest to most Tollbooth readers will be “The Shattered Fortress,” which conjures themes from _Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence_ and sports Dream Theater’s most Christian-sounding lyrics to date. The song emphasizes the need for grace, with such overtly biblical exhortations as: 

If you’re not sure, ask yourself 
“Have I done to them 
As I would have them do to me? 
Help me live today 
And help to give me grace 
To carry out your way
While Black Clouds and Silver Linings is highly recommended to anyone who likes good rock music, fans of Neal Morse should be the first to pick it up, as Dream Theater is his studio drummer’s (Mike Portnoy) main act. 

The album also comes in a three-disc edition, which includes an all-instrumental version, as well as an excellent disc of cover tunes, the best of which are King Crimson’s “Larks Tongues in Aspic, Pt. 2” and the Dixie Dregs’ “Odyssey.” 

Dan Singleton 
January 4, 2010 

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