Dream Theater’s brand new album, Distance Over Time, comes at an interesting point for the band. Following their not entirely well received concept opus, The Astonishing (which may have played out better when seen live in it’s entirety than on record), a portion of their fans were keen to see them return to a more “normal” approach for their new album (if there is such a thing when it comes to Dream Theater).
Their first album since moving labels to Inside Out Music, Distance Over Time is likely to please Dream Theater fans from across the generations. Untethered Angel, unlike some Dream Theater album openers, doesn’t hang about and after a short intro from Jordan Rudess on the keys launches straight into its Petrucci powered main, tech-metal-esque riff. James Labrie delivers an understated but effective vocal, and the duelling wizardry of Rudess and Petrucci is wonderful, getting the album off to a very strong start.
The slight tech metal vibe to the riffery continues in Paralyzed, which is one of the best short Dream Theater songs released in some time. The instrumental work at the start of Fall Into Pieces sounds like it could have come from one of the last two Metallica albums until the point James Labrie’s vocals kick in, but from that point on it’s Dream Theater effortlessly walking the heavy and melodic tightrope at their best.
A dreamy extended solo from John Petrucci is the highlight of Barstool Warrior while Room 137 evokes memories of some of the bands darkest material on albums like Train Of Thought and Black Clouds and Silver Linings. It’s a track with huge crunching riffs, coupled with typical wizardry from Mike Mangini and John Myeung in the Dream Theater rhythm section.
The longest track on the album, At Wits End, is a comparably (for the award of longest track on a Dream Theater album) short nine minutes and twenty seconds, but its a track that feels far shorter. As with the best Dream Theater epics, it draws the listener in, with an excellent performance from James Labrie and John Petrucci once again at his fret manipulating best with another wonderful solo. Out Of Reach is a slower, softer track (think Withered from Black Clouds & Silver Linings), again with Labrie on form, before the standard version of the album comes to a conclusion with Pale Blue Dot. The tech-metal influenced riffery from earlier in the album returns with a vengeance here as Pale Blue Dot has some of the heaviest moments on the album, with all members of the band turning on the style for the album’s finale. Those with the bonus track version also get the added enjoyment of the musically dexterous Viper King – it’s one of the best tracks on the album so we would recommend the extra money for this version.
Overall, Distance Over Time is an excellent addition to a band who already boast one of the most superb back catalogues in any sub-genre of metal. After the lukewarm reaction to the last couple of albums from some, Distance Over Time is likely to delight all but the hardest to please of Dream Theater fans.
Distance Over Time is released today, 22nd February 2019 on Inside Out Music.