The Shattered Fortress

Album: Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)
  • This song is the final part of Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy's "Twelve-step Suite" (also known as the "Alcoholics Anonymous Suite"), a series of songs dealing with his struggles with alcoholism. The saga started with "The Glass Prison" from 2002's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and continued with "This Dying Soul," "The Root of All Evil" and "Repentence," before concluding with this track, which includes parts of all the previous songs in the saga. When we spoke with Portnoy in 2010, he told us: "I've been clean and sober with the help of AA now for over 10 years, and the 12 steps of recovery has been a huge, huge part of my life. When I got sober 10 years ago, I decided I wanted to start writing songs about the 12 steps. And rather than just writing one song about everything, I had this idea of writing one song that was steps 1, 2 and 3, then the next album continue with the song that was step 4 and 5, and so on and so forth. And 'The Shattered Fortress' is the final chapter, which is steps 10, 11 and 12, and ultimately these 5 songs that have taken 5 albums to complete ultimately will fit together and they all have running common themes and melodies and riffs and lyrics, and it all ties together like one giant puzzle that hopefully we'll be playing live someday."
  • Portnoy gets a lot of feedback from fans who are dealing with their own struggles with addiction. He told us: "I get it all the time from people that thank me and telling me that these songs have helped them with their struggles. And that's awesome. I want to stress that I never wrote these songs to preach sobriety. I'm not one of those Bible thumpers that preaches my beliefs. I was just writing about my experiences and my struggles. And if anybody can relate to them and possibly get something out of it that can help themselves, if they're struggling, then that's truly awesome."
    Portnoy adds that "Everything in my life is in excess." You can read more in our interview with Mike Portnoy.

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