The first track I heard from this album was "A Rite of Passage" (on one of the Prognosis discs), which starts out sounding a bit like a generic 90s alt. rock tune - something which I heard plenty of back then and which never really impressed me much, so I was a bit disappointed. Of course, the song quickly morphed into a style of progressive metal that was much more up my alley.
Although "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" has received mostly positive reviews and ratings on MMA, it has also received a lot of criticism, one of the points of criticism being that the album lacks innovation, and that the band just keeps treading a worn path stylistically. I disagree. I think that there are in fact many interesting elements on this album that show that Dream Theater are indeed evolving. For instance, Mike Portnoy makes use of blast meats on "A Nightmare to Remember" (being Dream Theater, they are, of course, in a triple meter), and the band also draws extensively on Gothic metal, which is also unusual for Dream Theater (true "Train of Thought" was dark in athmosphere, but never really Gothic, and "Forsaken" was a song about vampires). Of course, there are the Dream Theater trademarks of odd time signatures, instrumental virtuosity, genre transgression and compositional complexity.
The three disc version contains a disc with cover tracks on it, which is also a very interesting listen.
I'd recommend this album to fans of progressive metal who are not afraid of musically dark athmospheres, as wel as more adventurous fans of gothic metal.
(review originally posted on metalmusicarchives.com)