By Yarin Cohen
It has been three long years since Dream Theater’s last album “The Astonishing” was released. Since its 2013 self-titled album, the musicians in Dream Theater seem to be determined more than ever to create a different album every time, and take on new ground. On their last album the band took on a massive challenge, in presenting an original story in the form of a diverse concept album. Although creating a concept album wasn’t much of a surprise, the style of the album certainly was. The band took their style, expanded it on the basis of more melodic parts, more acoustic parts and more piano parts. That album showed that the band is willing to take risks and follow new paths in exploring their signature sound, with the ability to take it to a place we’ve never seen or heard before.
Although their new album “Distance Over Time” is very much different in style than The Astonishing, I still see the new work as a natural creative continuation because of the overall creative approach and mindset of being able to fully explore certain elements of their music in the form of a complete album. Of course, this approach comes with risks. It seems that in their effort to explore different aspects of their musical identity, they are willing to explore it fully, and create an album that only explores one style in a deep way, instead of showcasing many styles.
So what can we expect from this album? if The Astonishing was one of Dream Theater’s most melodic albums, then Distance Over Time is one of Dream Theater’s most heavy and concise albums. The sound of the album is captured more or less in the singles already released (and can be listened below). But this does not mean in any way that these songs alone capture the creative essence of this album. It’s not easy to take a subjective feeling and put it into words, but this album feels alive.
Dream Theater is really going with full force in every musical aspect. Does that mean that everyone’s going to love it? The answer is probably no, since some fans can only connect to a certain style. If you like Dream Theater for all of the elements that make up their musical identity, you’ll love it. Because the band made a brave decision to create something different every time, and some of the fans are used to a certain style. Distance Over Time goes full force in one direction.
As stated before, if you want to know what the sound of the band is going to be like, the singles captures it perfectly. That’s the direction the album is taking sound-wise. It’s dark and reminds me a bit of Awake. But the creative aspect is definitely different from Awake or anything that they have ever done. It’s very riff-oriented. One can really tell the boys wrote the songs together jamming in a big room. In my opinion, most of the fans will love it. Some obviously will not, but that is the risk a band needs to take if they are going to devote their work completely into exploring a new direction.
If The Astonishing was about exploring melody in a long complicated album, Distance Over Time is all about exploring their Metal side. Although the songs are more concise and simple, they never lose their adventurous drive, and the willingness to innovate. Distance Over Time is filled with great emotional moments, and crazy experimental moments. It sounds like they had fun making it, which is the most important thing.
After having said that, some fans would want to compare Distance Over Time to Train of Thought, or Systematic Chaos for example, since these two albums are also known for showcasing the band’s heavy style. But, Distance Over Time is nothing like these albums. This album stands on it’s own, and I can honestly say that creatively it doesn’t resemble anything that they ever done before. Whether That is good or bad, it’s up for the fans to decide. As a fan of the band I think it’s a great album.
Let’s go over the songs:
- “Untethered Angel”: You have all heard this one. It’s a great opener. The aggression and energy this song brings is a great way to open the album and set the listener in the mood. The middle section is really great too.
- “Paralyzed”: This one is also a single already released. When I heard this one, I knew it was going to be a single. It’s short and to the point. Very catchy, with a great underlining riff.
- “Fall Into The Light”: You all know this one too. The riffs remind me of Metallica. If “The Looking Glass” is pure Rush then this song is pure Metallica. The melody in the verses and chorus is really different from Metallica, but the riffs themselves and the progression of the song really reminds me of them. The middle section has an amazing melody
- “Barstool Warrior”: This one is really nice. It’s able to explore many themes. Nice melody on the chorus. It is a really optimistic and positive song.
- “Room 137”: This whole song revolves around one heavy riff. Very nice rhythm and cool solo in the middle.
- “S2N”: Very cool main riff. I have not heard anything similar from the band before. The transitions between every chorus and verse are great, complicated and intricate. The closing riff is one of the best riffs on the album! This song is perfect for headbanging.
- “At Wit’s End”: One of the Epics of the album. For me the highlight of the album are its two epics. This one is a great song. The intro is really complicated and interesting. The way the song flows is really interesting too. Very heavy, and very emotional. It also showcases some amazing singing moments for James Labrie. The instrumental section is really inspired and fun to listen to, filled with solos going back and forth between the guitar and keyboards. The song closes with an amazing emotional solo by John Petrucci.
- “Out Of Reach”: This is the ballad of the album. It is pretty standard as far as Dream Theater goes. The song features a nice melodic piece by Jordan Rudess, with Petrucci’s guitar and Labrie’s vocals bringing it to life.
- “Pale Blue Dot”: This song is the second epic of the album and it is amazing. It is very heavy and aggressive, and the instrumental section is going all over the place.
- “Viper King”: This one is really fun. This is one of the heaviest songs on the album. The style is really groovy and unique for the band. It does really well in capturing a very specific vibe that must be heard since it’s difficult to convey.
To sum things up, Distance Over Time to me is a natural continuation in Dream Theater’s strong catalog. The band went on a completely different direction from the previous album, and were able to devote themselves completely in exploring this direction. That definitely takes courage, and I think it was worth it.
Check out the 3 singles already released:
Fall Into The Light: