February 18, 2019 Dream Theater – Distance Over Time (Album Review)
Lords of Progressive Metal, Dream Theater have spent over three decades rising to the very peak of the genre’s hierarchy. Uncompromising, Dream Theater have amassed a cult-like following worldwide thanks to stunning three hour live shows and album after album of intense Prog Metal crafted in fine precision. Deservingly, all the hard work paid off as Dream Theater are recognized as a Grammy Award-nominated act with fifteen million albums sold across the oceans.
As the follow-up to 2016’s The Astonishing, Dream Theater are set to release their much anticipated fourteenth studio album, Distance Over Time, on Friday, February 22, 2019, via Inside Out Music/Sony Music. In late 2017, and throughout 2018, rumblings from the band began to surface regarding what fans could expect from the next Dream Theater album. What got fans most excited was the description of the band’s new material embodying a much heavier feel. Unlike the conceptual dramatics of The Astonishing, Distance Over Time was set to capture a more classic Metal Dream Theater sound. Musically, the band was inspired by their Images, Words, and Beyond Tour, which celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of 1992’s Images and Words.
As Dream Theater prepared to write Distance Over Time, the band decided it was time to take a more fundamental approach and let things happen naturally. So, for the first time in twenty years, Vocalist James LaBrie, Guitarist John Petrucci, Keyboardist Jordan Rudess, Bassist John Myung, and Drummer Mike Mangini spent four months in remote Monticello, NY at the five-acre Yonderbarn Studios. Away from all the city noise, Dream Theater lived together, spending time musing over the old days, barbecuing, and overall reestablishing the kinship that has held the band together for so long. As for the music, Dream Theater spent the summer writing and recording in a converted barn whenever the spirit spontaneously moved them. The band loved creating this way, as Petrucci stated: “There’s something about jamming and writing as a unit while you’re bonding, eating, drinking bourbon and just hanging out that helps infuse the music with a special feeling and a raw, palpable energy.“
As promised, Distance Over Time gifts fans with a heavy assortment of swarming guitar riffs, mountains and valleys of grand piano, and inspiring lyrics that can change lives. Ten all-new tracks to illuminate the senses, Distance Over Time begins via “Untethered Angel.” More than six minutes long, this track sees Progressive and Classical inspired music shaking hands. What really stands out is the lyrical content telling you not to fear following your heart. A crippling and dark journey, “Paralyzed” makes way for “Fallen Into The Light” and the classic Metal guitar hook that detonates into so much more as Petrucci and company slay.
Searching to find a way, “Barstool Warrior” carries a guitar melody of which Joe Satriani himself would be proud, before the Beatles-like vocal harmonies of “Room 137.” Then, the tightly wound bass and percussive blow of “S2N” is an unveiling statement on the current condition of the human race, followed by Dream Theater’s sobering look at domestic abuse via a pleading yet reassuring “At Wit’s End.”
In an enchanting number, the album’s best track might just be “Out of Reach.” This is one poetic and heart-tugging piece featuring simplistic piano and guitar enhanced by LaBrie’s portrayal of true love. Nearing the end, “Pale Blue Dot” takes a glimpse at our existence on earth as Dream Theater crush a Deep Purple like jam on the bonus track “Viper King.”
Dream Theater have done it again! Distance Over Time is yet another thrilling piece of work by the Progressive Metal giants. As the musicianship continues to shine, Distance Over Time is so much more than a no frills Prog Metal album, in that it reaches you on an emotional level. That said, Dream Theater was sure to place thought-provoking and passionate lyrics throughout, and anyone going through a rough time will find surely solace in Distance Over Time. Quality music, Cryptic Rock gives Distance Over Time 5 out of 5 stars.