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Dream Theater - Distance Over Time CD (album) cover

DISTANCE OVER TIME

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.66 | 255 ratings

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JJLehto
Prog Reviewer
3 stars A solid, though unspectacular, album. Possibly the best they've made in 16 years.

If this seems like an odd, or snarky, headline it's a reflection of DT's output for the past decade and a half. Dream Theater has been putting out inconsistent or mediocre albums since Train of Thought. They seem to have put this maddening trend to bed at least for this album. "Distance Over Time" is a fairly consistent album, and one that is largely solid to good. There is no track that really stands out or hits me with a "wow" but none are real clunkers either. Unlike some other albums that fit this mold (Systematic Chaos, ADTOE) that come off as uninspired or trying too hard, Distance Over Time does not. I suppose I wouldn't say this album feels inspired, it really doesn't, but the band certainly seems to have dropped their purposefully over the top mentality. Shorter songs, (not one over 10 minutes and 6 of the 9 clocking in at under 7 minutes!) less technical wankery, shorter solos, it could be called "Dream Theater abridged"

Some may lament this. Those very things are what make Dream Theater, often prog itself, and I am 100% A OK with all of it. Give me 10+ minute epics with all the showing off, every instrument getting a solo, and complex songcraft you can! That said, in the case of DT, (a talented band that I feel has been wheel spinning for a long time and suffered from "cant get out of their own way" even earlier on) I think this is a welcomed change.

It's undeniably Dream Theater. It's got absolutely everything you would expect, nothing is skipped. Unfortunately this includes passages of simple chords, with airy uplifting keys and soaring vocals that LaBrie struggles to nail... you know the song(s) that are contractually obligated to be on every DT album, (or that's what I wish was true, as it's frustrating they are unable/unwilling to break free). As for LaBrie there's nothing to say about his voice that hasn't been beaten to death, all I will say is I dislike them especially on this album. I find them particularly bad, shame because I found them quite fine on "Dream Theater" so not quite sure if some different recording/editing technique was done differently this time. That said there are of course some nasty riffs, solos, epic passages and progressions, and the best drumming I have yet heard from Mike Mangini. Since his entrance to this band his talent was clear but it never really stood out or impressed me in any real way. Seemed a good but generic drummer. This is not the case here, Mangini's drumming is quite human, passionate, and well...lively. The best output he's had yet with this band.

I won't go into song particulars except that it ends on a high note. "Pale Blue Dot" is the best song on the album by far. Though a close second is the bonus track "Viper King". I get why this is not on the official album, it's a far cry from a normal DT song: a 4 minute Deep Purple/Van Halen laden romp about the Dodge Viper. It's awesome. It's the most energetic, fun and human song on the album, and frankly more than most DT songs. Even LaBrie sounds really good! Sorry DT loyalists/"prog or it's not even music" believers. I would LOVE for the band to do a whole album in the vein of Viper King.

THREE AND A HALF STARS

JJLehto | 3/5 |

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