REVIEW: DREAM THEATER – “Distance Over Time”
Since their genesis in 1985, masters of the progressive, Dream Theater, established a brotherhood that they consider as integral to the creation of their music, if not more so, than the harmony of the instruments alone. During the summer of 2018, a four month period delegated to producing a new record, the band made a conscious decision to touch base with these core values. Removing themselves from the regular intensity of citified structures in favour of more sequestered pastures, Dream Theater wound up tucked away at the secluded, five-acre Yonderbarn studios in Monticello, NY, manning barbecues, enjoying bourbon, as well as writing and recording their new record, ‘Distance Over Time’. An organic return to roots brought to life by an almost renewed familial chemistry, there is little wonder as to why these legends and their fans grow more excited for its release on February 22nd.
As is often the case with an upcoming Dream Theater album, a curious trepidation is stirred up with regards to what they will deliver next. While the band do indeed have a trademark sound, ‘Distance Over Time’ proves that in 2019 they remain artistically brave, nurturing this sound once again, aligning it with their current incarnation. The electrifying “Paralyzed” serves as a vital representation of this. From its opening moments that see guitarist John Petrucci and drummer Mike Mangini bouncing off one another through an alarmingly enjoyable rhythmic interlock, to more large scale moments orchestrated by the versatile vocal delivery of singer James LaBrie, “Paralyzed” is simply ineradicable among this albums best.
To their delight, fans were gifted with a handful of leading singles in the run up to the release of ‘Distance Over Time’. The highly praised “Fall Into The Light” captures the band in their stylistic element. Though it was the studio play-through of “Untethered Angel” that portrayed Dream Theater at some of their progressive best. As keyboard player Jordan Rudess dances masterfully over his keys, he does so with a technical proficiency that simultaneously inspires while intimidates. As we look on in what can only be described as a jaw dropping giddiness, watching Rudess perform as his fellow band mates both support his moments and quickly pass the torch around the room for their own, quickly shifting the dynamic with ease, there is an evident enjoyment among them reflected in each and every track. Perhaps none more so than in the unexpected ballad entitled “Out Of Reach”.
Dream Theater are no strangers to flirting with the wistful, musing and melancholic sides of their personalities. “Out Of Reach” is easily deserving of occupying a place among some of their best examples of this. Built primarily around a simple, recurring melody on piano, elevated by the subtle nuances in a rare, stripped back performance by bassist John Myung, there lives an ethereal atmosphere deeply entrenched throughout this beautiful piece.
While their loyal fan base may disagree, Dream Theater have never considered themselves to be an outfit beyond reproach. But they have never allowed themselves to become prisoners of their own success. Instead they have retained what they hold dear, but have also kept their eyes forward, their vision never being reduced to something parochial. With that comes ingenuity as opposed to retrograde, with that comes ‘Distance Over Time’. A record that is wildly invigorating, enchantingly emotive and honors a brotherhood only few have been fortunate enough to know.