Formed way back in 1985 as Majesty, progressive metal pioneers Dream Theater now releases their 14th studio album called “Distance Over Time”. Let me start of by saying that Dream Theater is one of my favourite bands of all time. I have followed them since the dawn of time and every single release is always welcomed with opened arms. What do I expect after their last album, the two and a half hour long prog opera “The astonishing”?
Will it please the fans expecting a new “Images and Words”-album or will it please the fans hoping to listen to a new “Black Clouds and Silver Linings”? The easy answer is – None of them and both of them.
For a band playing progressive metal and trying to renew and make different types of albums all the time this is a setback and far more regressive than progressive. The album was recorded in 18 days and features (for the first time) riffs and ideas written by Mike Mangini. The disc contains 9 songs plus one bonus track and clocks in under 60 minutes.
The album starts of with “Untethered angel”, one of the first singles that you could hear before the actual release. This is a song of the minimalistic Dream Theater, the heavyness and catchty chorus meant to please the fans of the album “Train of Thought”. The album continues with two more heavy tunes reminding me alot of the kind of songs written for “Systematic Chaos”, the second song “Paralyzed” being a salute to Meshuggah with its heavyness and the third song “Fall into the light” beginning with a riff comparable with bay area thrash giants of the 80s. Just when you think you get the hang of the sound of the song, Dream Theater shakes things up and delievers a great melodic refrain.
The fourth song on the album “The barstool warrior”(how Marillion does a song title get?) is a beautiful progressive piece written by John Petrucci.
“Room 137” is the first song with lyrics written by drummer Mike Mangini. Mike, who has now been in the band for 8 years has also for the first time contributed with instrumental ideas on this album. The influences on “Room 137” are very clear as this sounds a lot like industrial metal (Marilyn Manson), (again with a clear reference to the Dream Theater album “Systematic Chaos”).
The heavy metal sound continues through-out the entire record. How come? Is this because of the mixed opinions about the two and a half hour long album “The Astonishing”? Probably, yes. The second part of the album really speaks to me. “S2N” and “At wit’s end” are two really good songs and the album ends in the best possible way. “Pale blue dot” is 8:26 minutes of progressive magic. Truly amazing stuff and a great way to end the record.
As always the musicianship is flawless on this album. The only thing I would discuss is Mike Mangini vs Mike Portnoy, with Mangini being an absolute monster on technical ability, tempo and correctness and Portnoy bringing the more playful, challenging and progressive style of playing. According to me Jordan Rudess takes a step back on this album leaving room for more of guitarist Petrucci as this is heavier and more straight forward than the usual Dream Theater album is.
Overall this is a very good album that will please those who like Dream Theater playing heavy riffs. The songs are shorter and far less progressive, still with great riffs, solos and melodic vocals.
Dream Theater is coming to Sweden in 2019. They will play Gävle 19/6 with Tesseract, Animals as leaders and Freak Kitchen. They will also perform at Sweden rock festival in Norje, Blekinge in june.
Artist: Dream Theater
Title: Distance over time
Label: Inside out
Date of release: 2019-02-22
Stand out track: Pale blue dot
Dream Theater are:
James LaBrie – lead vocals
John Petrucci – guitars, production
John Myung – bass
Jordan Rudess – keyboards
Mike Mangini – drums