Album Review: "Distance Over Time"

Illustration by Katie Dobrydney

The progressive rock and metal band Dream Theater have been known for years as a band that released epic songs, which tell tales that deal with life, death and everything in between. The formula seems to be a stable base for the band as they have stuck to their roots on their newest album “Distance Over Time,” which is the band’s fourteenth studio album. The album has nine songs with a bonus track that has the list round out to about an hour of listening time.

The band is made up of five musicians: Vocalist James LaBrie, guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, keyboardist Jordan Rudess and drummer Mike Mangini. According to the band's website, the Dream Theater formed in 1985 after the founding members met each other while studying music at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusets under the old band name Majesty.

The band has some elements of the 60s where they have more instrumental break downs with some lyrics to add flavor to their songs. Compared to older albums, the song titled “Untethered Angel” seems to show evolution into the band’s sound. The song was the first single from the album as it was released in December 2018 to give fans a taste of what to expect. It starts with a soft acoustic guitar and keyboard composition from Petrucci and Rudess. As the song continues, a big bass run is accompanied by the drums to bring the band back to the normal sound of beating guitars and bottom-heavy riffs to drive the song.

For a band that has been around since the 80s, it can be difficult to adapt to the music world and please the newer generation of listeners. One way around that dilemma was to beef up the sound. Dream Theater took that concept and put it into "Distance Over Time," which was a good move on their part.

During many solos, the songs have a guitar and keyboard playing the same note in a rapid pattern. This can create a sort of harmonizing chaos that takes the listener on a journey to an unknown destination. The vocals of LaBrie come and bring the song back on track.

Some songs on the album have great use of lyrics when dealing with pressures from society or about love. “Barstool Warrior” tells a story about someone who is at a bar that looks like the town’s drunk, yet they have a different past.

[Verse 2]

In the glow of flashing lights

On the shoulder of a road

Clutching at the bruises on her skin

She tries to signal danger

With anguish in her eyes

Will he see the world of pain she's in?

Or is it too late?

The song is not about drinking or the element of going to the bar to have a good time; it's actually the opposite. The song describes abuse and erasing a troubled past to look for a new life.

“Out of Reach” is about a person who wants to be with a certain someone, yet she keeps alluding him and he is left there with nothing but sadness. Right when he gets close enough to her, she seems to get away.

[Verse 1]

There's something about this girl

Some kind of magic

I swear she cast a spell on me

Not the first time

While having soft, yet intense music in the background the lyrics should be pulled out and viewed in a more precise manor than the other songs in the album. With a guitar break that mimics the solos of the 80s, the band is letting the listeners know they still use their musical formula to get their point across to the newer generation.

Overall, the album is a good step for Dream Theater. With the excellent guitar playing from Petrucci and bass playing from Myung, the songs have the same style as the older songs yet with more bite. With a change in drummers since 2010, the band has taken on an aggressive style that once was alluded to in the early days of the band, which has been resurrected in 2019.

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