I’m gonna start this one off with a question? Where do y’all come down on DREAM THEATER? Some of you will probably rave about what awesome musicians they are (you’re right), while others will go on to say that sometimes they get too deep in self-indulgent wankery (also right). For me, their releases have been very much up and down. But when they manage to find that balance, where they can show off their musical chops while also giving us songs with memorable hooks (Images and Words, Awake, Dream Theater), well quite frankly the band is unstoppable. And that is certainly the case for most, if not all of new album Distance Over Time, out now through InsideOut Music.
You want the heavy? It’s there in spades. You crave drum, bass, guitar, and keyboard parts that’ll make your head spin? Check that box, too. Vocalist James LaBrie sounds just as good as when he first captivated me in 1992, and the other members (guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, keyboardist Jordan Rudess, and drummer Mike Mangini) weave a sonic tapestry that simply must be heard to be believed. Opener “Untethered Angel” kicks the door open, and “Paralyzed” comes through it with even more teeth. “Fall Into the Light” is one of the two longest songs on the disc, but it will certainly hold your attention throughout. On my first spin I just knew this record would be something special, and Petrucci’s solo here proves me right.
“Barstool Warrior” was an instant favorite, because the musicians all work so well and fit together beautifully. The melodies on this track are simply magnificent, from Petrucci to Rudess and to everyone else. LaBrie doesn’t enter the equation until the near two-minute mark, but when he comes in he surely paints a picture with his delivery. I would love for them to do this one on the upcoming U.S. tour. “Room 137” is an exercise in Heavy 101, with a chunky riff and tom-heavy drumming while “S2N” finds Myung anchoring the track as the band around him seems like they’re everywhere at once. And when we hit that glorious hook, we know we’ve arrived.
When I first heard “At Wit’s End” all I could think was how fitting an addition this song would have been to an older album like Awake, or maybe even Falling Into Infinity. There’s a vintage quality to it that just warms the cockles of my heart (OMIGOD, did I really just type that?!? Ahh well, screw it!), and it made me love the track even more. Rudess and Petrucci simply go nuts on this one, with Mangini coming in hot when necessary. “Out of Reach” is very pretty, and a nice mellow track, the type you’ll find in this spot to give us a breather, while at the same time the band comes in and plays their asses off, as LaBrie sings his heart out, too!
“Pale Blue Dot” is now one of the greatest songs DREAM THEATER has ever done as far as I’m concerned, and it’s only a matter of time before people are clamoring for this one in a live setting!! I have been all in on this bitch from the first time I heard it, plus the whole band not only goes to town, they drain the General Store of product with this track! This is my favorite tune if you haven’t already figured that out. The bonus song on this record is “Viper King”, and you can all make your own minds up on this one. Me? I love it! So, there’s that. DREAM THEATER really delivered a helluva record with Distance Over Time, one of my favorites in their arsenal, and now let’s all embrace it. Get your copy now, my beauties!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM