In order to celebrate the release of Dream Theater’s latest studio album, Black Clouds & Silver Linings, I am offering detailed reviews of each of the six tracks throughout the week.
Track 4: “The Shattered Fortress”
“The Shattered Fortress” is the fifth and final track of the Twelve-Step Suite, which began with “The Glass Prison” from 2006’s Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Opening with aggressive riffs and fierce pounding, a thunderous groove laced with a Mid-Eastern tone is molded from thin air. A demonic and unnecessary vocal accent begins each line of the first verse and predictable lyrics fill the bridge (“look in the mirror, what is that you see, the shattered fortress…”).
Following a strong keyboard ditty by Rudess, the song transitions into a pretty mellow ballad until a strange narrative from a voice that sounds like an artificial Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile) or Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction); it gets in the way of LaBrie’s brilliant vocal performance.
There are many headbangable moments throughout the track especially during the intro, after the first chorus (3:30), after the second chorus (5:23), and pre-guitar/keyboard solo (9:20). Petrucci blazes through the guitar solo while demonstrating his tight control and action of the wah-wah pedal.
In the final minute of the song, the Twelve-Step Suite is brought to its end via the intro to “The Glass Prison” and fades into the tone of “The Root of all Evil.” “The Shattered Fortress” is a good compliment to the “Black Cloud” theme of the album despite its hokey moments; remove the “scary guy” voices and this is another excellent track –Meds
Track 4 of 6 — Length 12:49 — Roadrunner Records
Dream Theater is James LaBrie (Vocals), John Petrucci (Guitars/Vocals), John Myung (Bass), Jordan Rudess (Keyboards/Continuum), & Mike Portnoy (Drums/Percussion/Vocals).