Dream Theater are a band that for a lot of years I never really understood. One of my best mates in college played me Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory and whilst I really enjoyed the musicality of it, I never really paid much attention. That all changed when in 2017 I was able to witness Images & Words in full at the Glasgow concert hall. After that performance, I finally understood Dream Theater and as such was rather looking forward to giving this new record a spin.
Opening track “Untethered Angel” is a quintessential Dream Theater track with all the signature elements that make up a track from the band on there. Vocalist James LaBrie’s singing on this track in particular stands out as being rather impressive. One thing of particular note is that the mix on this album is fantastic with each instrument given its own space to shine. No one instrument is louder than the other and everything meshes together rather nicely. The intro of “Barstool Warrior” is a prime example of this with the exceptional playing of Jordan Rudess and John Petrucci providing the perfect icing atop the prog metal cake.
The album proves to be a slightly more varied album than previous releases with more of a focus on the songwriting and melodies rather than the technical playing that has dominated previous releases. The technical playing is still there though, make no mistakes, but the songs feel a lot more polished and get stuck in your head a lot easier. “S 2 N” is a prime example of this with the opening bass riff from John Myung in particular being incredibly catchy. Whilst not having as many catchy riffs as some of the other tracks, “Out of Reach” shines through on it’s own as being kind of similar to a ‘power ballad’ with some excellent signing from James once again.
Arguably the most technical track of the album, “Pale Blue Dot” rounds out the album rather nicely with a smattering of guitar and keyboard wizardry courtesy of John and Jordan respectively. One of the longest tracks on the album, it’s a superb example of the musical skill in the band and provides a find ending to the album. For those who ordered the special edition, there’s one additional bonus track in the form of “Viper King” which I’d argue is worth getting the special edition for. It oozes groove with the main guitar riff being one of the catchiest riffs I’ve ever heard and sounds like the band got in a room and decided to have some fun. Easily my favourite track on the album and one that would go down a storm live.
In short, whilst I’m not the most versed with Dream Theater as I’d like to be, the album does feel like a step up for the band and has some of the catchiest riffs I have ever heard. Distance Over Time is an excellent album with every song being fantastic to listen to and the band should be proud as I feel like they’ve made one their best albums to date.
Distance Over Time is released on February 22nd