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Dream Theater

Distance Over Time

Review by Greg Olma

Dream Theater has been releasing records for 30 years now, and I’m happy to say that while there has never been a bad Dream Theater album, this new one is one that I would rank towards the top.  I will admit that I have had a rough time getting into The Astonishing and to this day, it is one of the discs that I pass over in favor of other releases.  Distance Over Time reminds me more of Permanent Waves/Moving Pictures era Rush; still prog but in more concise pieces (with a few longer tracks thrown in to satisfy older fans).  While some may complain that Dream Theater is not stretching out too far musically, others will complain that it sounds like other records.  I feel that this is what the band does; they perform Dream Theater music which has a unique sound and no one does it better than them.  For those fans who were thrown off a bit by their previous release, I think Distance Over Time remedies that and brings us a nice collection of tunes to enjoy.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Untethered Angel

At first, there is just a quiet intro before the heavy riffing kicks in.  Once the melodic verses join, we are treated to a nice groove, and then they shift to an uplifting chorus .  At times, the music gets a bit busy but this is Dream Theater, and that is expected.  Even though it is over six minutes long, the track goes by quickly.

Paralyzed
Things start off with a very basic riff, but then build into one of the better tracks on the record.  John Petrucci provides a short solo that fits the song perfectly, and James LaBrie’s vocals shine without the studio effects that show up later in the album.
Fall Into The Light
This frantic number really gets things off into very familiar Dream Theater territory.  This is one of the longer tunes on the record, and, while there is some fast riffing and speed drumming compliments of Mike Mangini, there is some great guitar work in the slower middle section of the track.  This piece is a good example of why Dream Theater is regarded so highly as both musicians and prog song writers.
Barstool Warrior
While the previous track had a lot going on in it, this tune is more, dare I say, basic, but in a Dream Theater way.  While I feel it is less proggy, it still has a great feel with melody to spare.  Petrucci really lets rip with a great solo in the middle of this track.
Room 137
The beginning of this reminds me of Marilyn Manson’s "The Beautiful People.”  I like this tune because it goes outside the box a little with some cool effects on LaBrie’s vocals with some Beatle’s Magical Mystery Tour type delivery.
S2N
On this cut the guys really show off their musical chops but in a way that still manages to make the tune enjoyable and not just a showcase for their instrumental chops.  Petrucci’s soloing is superb in this song but doesn’t overshadow the underlying riffing.  
At Wit’s End
For those who crave older Dream Theater material , this tune hearkens back to the Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory album.  In my opinion, this is where the guys shine; telling a story with a number of musical twists and turns along the way.  This track would have fit nicely on the aforementioned record.
Out of Reach
The song starts off with just Labrie, Petrucci and Jordan Rudess preforming a mellow ballad.  About half way through the rest of the guys join in and bring a bit of an epic feel to this short little tune.  I liken this to “Wait For Sleep" from Images And Words.
Pale Blue Dot
As the second longest tune on offer here, this has all the prog elements that we expect from Dream Theater.  The riffing is heavy but melodic, and Mangini’s precision drumming really elevates this track.  If you purchased just the regular version of the record, this is where it would end; with a great, heavy, prog piece.
Viper King (Bonus Track)
My version of the disc contains this bonus cut that is very different.  It has a very Deep Purple raw feel.  I like it, but I can see why it is a bonus track as it does not really fit with the rest of the material on Distance Over Time.
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