- 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 Edit
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 Edit
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 Edit
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
Pre release Edit
The band released an advance single for "A Rite of Passage" which was available on Roadrunner's website for a 24 hour period. A video was also shot and released for the song.
Across the five weeks leading up to the album's release, they revealed the cover songs by releasing them as singles, one by one, beginning with Stargazer. On the sixth week, the album was released.
Pre-release reviews by the press were overwhelmingly positive. Rich Wilson, who reviewed the album for Metal Hammer, called it Dream Theater's most focused album in a decade. As with any band of a certain age, fan reception was mixed, but largely the reception has been, again, positive, and hailed by some as a return to form.
Tone and Lyrics Edit
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 mixture 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. It has been praised for being a little more restrained and melodic, perhaps, than Systematic Chaos.
The lyrics deal almost exclusively with personal experiences, 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 examples include "Wither" which Petrucci wrote about writing music, "The Best of Times" which Portnoy wrote about his father's death, and Petrucci's "The Count of Tuscany" and "A Nightmare to Remember" tell the story of two frightening experiences he had. On a non-personal note, "A Rite of Passage" is written about the Freemasons.
Cover Art Edit
The cover art is seen as being somewhat of a throwback to both Images and Words and Awake, with various elements that are related to 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.
Alternate versions Edit
The album was released in three different editions. The basic, jewel case version contains only one disc, featuring the full length album. The special edition contains two bonus discs: Uncovered 2008/09 is disc two, and there's also an instrumental edition of the album. 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 "producer's disc" which contains isolated tracks. The box set also included a lithograph and a mouse pad, and five box sets contained silver tickets, which entitled the buyer to free entry to one gig, with a meet and greet package bundled in.