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Dream Theater - Distance Over Time CD (album) cover

DISTANCE OVER TIME

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.62 | 204 ratings

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DominicS
2 stars After being excited for months waiting for the new Dream Theater album, I was bitterly disappointed when I gave the full album a listen, as although there are some areas of strength it is largely crippled by its lack of originality, imagination and most importantly a sense of uniqueness.

I have been a strong fan of Dream Theater throughout my late teens with many of their past albums being memorable even after a first listen such as 'Scenes from a Memory' and 'Black Clouds and Silver Linings'. Yet 'Distance Over Time' went right over my head; there was hardly anything memorable about it and little that stood out; 'Paralyzed', for example, is quite boring to listen to probably due to its simple verse/chorus structure, therefore merely resembling a generic metal song. The album is made further tedious by the similarity of some of the songs such as with the introductions of 'Paralyzed' and 'Barstool Warrior', where both songs begin with John Petrucci's guitar followed by some stabs on the bass drum ? it shows a complete lack of imagination and creativity. The opening riff of the song 'Viper King' is strong and quite funky which makes a nice change yet when the rest of the band suddenly enter, the riff seems less defined and slightly lost in the distortion of the song which is a real shame as a cleaner guitar tone could have really benefitted here. The song is also quite monotonous in my opinion, not enough contrast of lighter and darker tones as it is texturally dense pretty much throughout and therefore, I lose interest quickly.

However, I do not completely hate this album as it would be unfair to say that this is a complete failure ? it certainly isn't. While it is not the most memorable album, I was blown away by the strength of the section beginning at 3:10 in the song 'Fall into the Light'. I love how the song suddenly goes from being texturally busy to then being sparse of anything apart from a gentle guitar, at which point you know something special is going to occur. What makes this section the most memorable for me is the descending guitar line played continuously throughout the solo, it is so majestic and gives me shivers every time I hear it. This is the type of soloing I prefer from Petrucci: emotional and atmospheric rather than the mindless shredding that occurs for the most part of the album. After this majestic and uplifting section, the song returns into chaos which displays an imaginative contrast of sections that the rest of the album desperately needs. The only other bit of the album I like is the song 'Out of Reach' as it is a nice break from the heaviness of the other songs. The whole song, in my opinion, is glorious as it feels like one big build to the climax at 2:48; during this build, Rudess' gorgeous piano tone along with Petrucci's soulful soloing over the top creates a peaceful melancholy. It would have been nice for more songs like this to appear on the album in order to add more of a variety of tones and textures and to be honest I thought the song could have lasted more than 4 minutes.

So yes, the album is not entirely awful, but the bits that make it strong are not present enough and so it suffers in terms of being unique. Dream Theater could learn some valuable lessons from an artist such as Steven Wilson, who has been able to give each of his Porcupine Tree and solo albums their own unique sound, exploring genres such as krautrock and jazz. Perhaps Dream Theater needs to try something radically different because in my opinion they seem to be running out of original ideas; instead they're copying material from their previous albums. 'The Astonishing' was an attempt at doing something different but they could probably be even more radical. I would rather hear them try something completely experimental rather than listen to the band repeatedly display their technical accuracy in an overblown manner. We know they are exceptional players and we know they are one of the best in terms of prog metal bands ? so instead of communicating this to us in the same tedious ways, they should possibly attempt something bolder and only then will I begin to praise them the way I used to.

DominicS | 2/5 |

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