Dream Theater, Distance Over Time Review
Dream Theater is an American progressive metal band formed in 1985 under the name Majesty by John Petrucci, John Myung and Mike Portnoy while they attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. They subsequently dropped out of their studies to concentrate further on the band that would ultimately become Dream Theater. The current lineup is: John Petrucci (guitars, backing vocals), John Myung (bass), James LaBrie (lead vocals), Jordan Rudess (keyboards, piano) and Mike Mangini (drums, percussion). Though a number of lineup changes have transpired over the years, the group is still as strong as ever and out with a new album titled Distance Over Time.
Opening the highly anticipated album is “Paralyzed.” Kicking off with a heavy riff from Petrucci that builds with the rest of the band laying in. Dream Theatre’s sound is heavy on this one, but still articulate and clear. The first thing I noticed is the drum sound is different than the more recent albums. More focused on the toms and cymbals, but still sounding full, with the kicks and snare. “Paralyzed” keeps a strong guitar and bass riff as the focus. The song in general has a fuller guitar presence. Rudess’ keyboards are felt more than heard on this track, giving the band a more aggressive and raw energy. LaBrie’s singing is marvelous and so are the lyrics. However, I am not a big fan of the effects on his voice, and he sounds far off in the mix. The song clocks in under five minutes, which is a little unusual for Dream Theatre. This a straight-ahead metal tune. Having a tune like “Paralyzed” on the album just lets the listen breathe between the more complex forms, time signatures and complex melodies found within the other tunes of Distance Over Time. Petrucci’s solo is short and to the point, but still contains musicality and all the elements of his amazing guitar arsenal. Sometimes less is more, and that is the core success of “Paralyzed.”
“Fall into the Light” opens with another riff driven tune by Petrucci and Myung. Mangini’s time feel is amazing on this one, driving the track with energy and a huge pocket. If you are looking for a different sounding Dream Theater, it will not be found here, but instead what is heard is a band that seems to be rekindling their love of music and writing as a band. Is the sound formulaic, yes, formulaic for Dream Theater, but isn’t that what true fans are looking for, the Dream Theater they know and love. “Fall Into the Light” has all the Dream Theater elements: full guitar driven riffs, a long complex form with multiple feels and metric modulations, a quiet introspective section, complex riffs, burning guitar and a melody that takes a few listens to sing along with.
Distance Over Time is Dream Theater’s fourteenth album. Are we going to hear the reinvention of the band’s sound on its nine tracks, NO! What we do hear is a subtle energy and sonic cohesion that is achieved by the band writing the material together and the cohesion of the members concepts that continues to grow with each passing year. The music on Distance Over Time does have a more angles of Dream Theater’s sonic pallet, but it is subtle, this is not a reinvention of their sound, thank goodness!
Distance Over Time
February 22, 2019