In the wake of their previous, enormously long musical saga, even the most rabid Dream Theater fans were probably asking how the doyens of modern progressive metal could be reined in.
As long as the average Avengers film, The Astonishing was incredible, but for many people it was probably also an exercise in patience-testing self-indulgence rarely seen since the likes of Tales From Topographic Oceans, an extremely talented band who seemed to be showing off for the very sake of it. There was really only one way for Dream Theater to go after such indulgence, and Distance Over Time is it.
Clocking in at less than half the duration of its predecessor, Distance Over Time is Dream Theater’s attempt at asserting themselves primarily as songwriters, and not simply a group of prodigiously talented musicians. Of course, it wouldn’t be Dream Theater if John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess weren’t trying to melt everyone’s faces off with staggering displays of virtuosity and this album has plenty of those, like early track ‘Fall Into the Light’ with both men blazing through a series of searing solos. But a song like ‘Paralyzed’ also shows how effective this band can still be when they restrain themselves to straight song writing.
It’s in the second half of the album where Dream Theater begin to let themselves off the chain, with both ‘S2N’ and ‘At Wit’s End’ delving in to the type of sweeping instrumental wizardry usually associated with this band. At just under ten minutes, ‘At Wit’s End’ provides plenty of breathing space for Petrucci and Rudess especially to work their magic and the album closes on an almost wistful moment with the expansive and rather beautiful ‘Pale Blue Dot’, a song that underlines what a truly great band Dream Theater is. In terms of breaking new territory, Distance Over Time doesn’t offer anything out of the box, just a collection of really good metal songs.
For a long time now, Dream Theater has been recording ever-more elaborate albums geared toward long time fans of their progressive metal grandiosity. With Distance Over Time, they have made a more accessible album, perfect for a newer regime of fans just dipping their toes in the water for the first time, but one that doesn’t compromise their progressive tendencies or integrity so even the regular fanbase will still enjoy it.
- Untethered Angel
- Fall Into the Light
- Barstool Warrior
- Room 137
- At Wit’s End
- Out of Reach
- Pale Blue Dot