I pre-ordered Dream Theater’s new album Black Clouds & Silver Linings. Why did I do that? I’ve no idea. I have nothing previously by Dream Theater. I recall seeing the name, and I took a bit of a punt. Sometimes I act on impulse and generally it turns out good, as in this case. BC&SL is made up of six tracks, running for about 75 minutes, so that should give you some idea of what’s on offer. Basically we’re talking prog-metal, a genre I generally find difficult to get into, although I’m making progress with assistance from Porcupine Tree. The first listen of the album gave the impression of classical music delivered via the medium of heavy rock, in a good way. Without going into a track by track listing I can say that each track is distinctive yet comprises a mini-symphony with multiple time signature changes and solo arrangements featuring all the members of the band. The lyrics are meaningful, not too poetic, and delivered sometimes in a standard song structure, and sometimes as a spoken poem. James LaBrie usually handles the singing while atmospheric growls are provided by Mike Portnoy. The drumming runs the spectrum from non-existence to maniacal, while the guitar work is to die for. Superb doesn’t even come close. Whilst every track is brilliant, the highlight for me is The Shattered Fortress, apparently the last in a series of twelve musically and lyrically linked tracks spread over their last few albums that deals with Mike Portnoy’s recovery from alcoholism.