- Mike Portnoy - Drums, vocals, co-producer
- John Petrucci - Guitar, co-producer
- John Myung - Bass, violin
- James LaBrie - Vocals
- Jordan Rudess - Keyboard, continuum, lap steel guitar
Disc One: Black Clouds & Silver Linings
1. A Nightmare to Remember (Petrucci) 16:10
2. A Rite of Passage (Petrucci) 8:35
3. Wither (Petrucci) 5:35
4. The Shattered Fortress (Portnoy) 12:49
5. The Best of Times (Portnoy) 13:09
6. The Count of Tuscany (Petrucci) 19:16
Disc Two: Cover songs
1. Stargazer (Rainbow) 8:10
2. Tenement Funster/Flick of the Wrist/Lily of the Valley (Queen) 8:16
3. Odyssey (The Dixie Dregs) 7:59
4. Take Your Fingers From My Hair (Zebra) 7:21
5. Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part Two (King Crimson) 6:30
6. To Tame a Land (Iron Maiden) 7:15
Disc Three: Instrumental mixes
1. A Nightmare to Remember 15:37
2. A Rite of Passage 8:35
3. Wither 5:37
4. The Shattered Fortress 12:45
5. The Best of Times 12:49
6. The Count of Tuscany 18:47
Black Clouds & Silver Linings is completed and slated for release on June 23. Not too much is known at this point about the creative process, though it is assumed to be similar to that of Systematic Chaos.
The release of the album is hotly anticipated by fans, due in no small part to the large deal of pre-release promotion the album has received. The band released an advance single for "A Rite of Passage" which was avialable on Roadrunner's website for a 24 hour period. A video was also shot and released for the song. Dream Theater have also been releasing digital singles for the various cover songs found on the special edition, with one cover per week being released up to the album's release date.
Though the album hasn't been released yet, pre-release reviews by the press have been overwhelmingly positive. Rich Wilson, who reviewed the album for Metal Hammer, called it Dream Theater's most focused album in a decade. Pre-release leaks are availalbe on the internet via illegal download services of various versions of songs, though the entire album has not shown up yet. Reactions to the albums by fans who have downloaded it are also overwhelmingly positive, with many preferring it over Systematic Chaos.
Tone and Lyrics
Many who have heard the album have compared its tone to that of Train of Thought. The album is dark, personal and heavy. Out of the four tenets of Dream Theater's sound (progressive, metal, melodic and pop) the band heavily uses the metal sound, notable on songs such as "A Nightmare to Remember", "The Shattered Fortress", and "The Count of Tuscany" though the latter contains many melodic and progressive passages as well. "A Rite of Passage", the vanguard song of the album is seen as being the perfect misture of all four sounds, and "Wither" is the most pop-oriented song, though it is also the most melodic. Perhaps most interesting is "The Best of Times" which is up-tempo and fast, though not heavy like much of the album.
The lyrics once again deal exclusively with personal issues, with no fiction being used on this album. "The Shattered Fortress" concludes The AA Saga with the last three steps and is comprised largely of quotes and riffs from the previous songs. Other personal experiences can be seen in "Wither" which Petrucci wrote about writer's block, "The Best of Times" which Portnoy wrote about his father's death, and Petrucci's latest epics "The Count of Tuscany" and "A Nightmare to Remember" which tell the story of two frightening experiences he had. On a non-personal note, "A Rite of Passage" is written about the freemasons.
The cover art is seen as being somewhat of a throwback to both Images and Words and Awake, with various elements that are assumed to be themes from the album, though they appear to be more abstract in nature such as Images and Words. It has also been noted that several of the images have appeared in one form or another from previous Dream Theater albums such as Train of Thought and Octavarium.
There are currently three versions of the album available for pre-order. It is unknown if stores will sell either of the special editions. The basic version contains six tracks. The special edition has three discs. The first disc contains the album itself while the second disc contains instrumental mixes of the album. The instrumental mixes are said to be different than the ones with vocals and may be based on demo versions. The third disc contains a collection of the cover songs released via the internet prior to release.
The third version of the album is The Collector's Edition Box Set. The box set contains all three discs from the Special Edition, as well as an additional "producers disc" which contains isolated tracks. The box set also includes such extras as a lithograph, mousepad and the possibility of obtaining a "Silver Ticket" which can be redeemed for a meet and greet at a show.