Dream Theater is one of my all time favorite bands. Their career is majestic. Album after album has been of superb quality.
In 2016, they put out an absolutely epic 2 hour and 10 minute album called The Astonishing. It was full of bombast and theatrics. It was a totally different album for DT, it was not “normal” DT and it was by far the most different in their career. The band wanted to tell a story and didn’t cut corners in doing so. My reaction after my first listen was “Holy crap, this is a movie soundtrack, not a prog album. They pulled it off. WOW!”
But then I put it away after 3-4 listens and after a search to find a stand out moment or two just to listen to when I have a few minutes. I couldn’t. It was meant to listen to it from start to finish and at 2 hours and 10 minutes, I could never find the time. I did not want to do it a disservice, so I basically forgot about it.
I will never ever fault a band for trying something new. I will never get on the interwebs and speak negatively about a group of people creating music they love. Dream Theater put out an album they wanted to do and more power to them for doing it. But The Astonishing polarized their fan base I guess. Many liked it, many disliked it. I did not dislike it, I just couldn’t give myself the time to give it the listens it needed. I did not give it a chance. I put it away and awaited their next release.
The next release is out today and it is called Distance Over Time.
Since the reaction to The Astonishing was so polarized, many have said that Distance Over Time is an attempt to come back to the “normal” style Dream Theater albums. I for one am okay with this whether it was done intentionally or not. Damn do I love “normal” Dream Theater.
The reviews I have seen are all very positive, and this one is as well. I starting digging DT because of their over the top instrumentation, their longer songs, their incredible riffs and their “not afraid to show the world how damn good at mastering the instruments they play” attitude, including vocals.
This album is what I needed from DT. It was 3 years of not listening to a new DT album and I wanted to. This album is everything I loved about DT and then some. It is a perfectly “normal” Dream Theater album. They set the bar so high in the past and they cleared it with this one.
Every song has a hint of classic DT, and thank Jah for that. Did they fall into a trap of trying to recapture the past? Hell no, they just did what they always have and expanded on it with a new album.
The band is just amazing. This is easily Mike Mangini’s best work with the band. John Myung is all over this album and I for one am extremely happy with that. His playing on When Dream and Day Unite (especially Light Fuse and Get Away) is probably the biggest reason why I became a DT fan. 2nd biggest reason was the playing by John Petrucci. Holy crap what a talent, and on this album, he expands on his mastery of the guitar and has some of the best playing he has ever done. James’ vocals are also some of his best, especially on Fall into the Light and Barstool Warrior. And lastly, Jordan Rudess is just a monster on this album. Some of his playing along side John’s guitar is just jaw dropping. That is “normal” Dream Theater to a T.
I would go track by track on this album but every track is perfect Dream Theater, so no need. Every song is a fresh approach to their writing style. Am I saying this because I have not heard them in their “normal” selves since 2014? No, it is because their “normal” is so much better than so many others doing this style of music and I get excited hearing them do it. And they delivered.
I did a 1st reaction twitter post for every song on the album so if you need to hear a song breakdown, go there. All I will add here is this album is:
- The album DT fans needed if they were put off by The Astonishing.
- The album DT fans needed that liked The Astonishing and wanted to see them do their “normal” thing again. And…
- The album DT fans needed that just wanted to hear another DT album (that would be me).
On the song Room 137, there are 2 sections of the song I do want to ask the band about. I listened to this song and at the 2:07 mark, the music and vocals are slightly muted and the vocals are very harmonic. They do it again at the 3:25 mark. It reminded me instantly of a song by another band that I know they love, but it could be another band that I know they love, so I ask:
- Was that an ode to the Beatles and Strawberry Fields? Or
- Was that an ode to King’s X and Dogman?
The Beatles get props every single second of every day, but King’s X is a band that needs props and deserve props. So I am hoping the boys in DT throw that ode to dUg, Ty and Jerry (Doug did sing on Lies in the Sand, so maybe my hunch is correct). Still hoping someday for a Dream Theater/King’s X tour.
The DT album is the DT album that all DT fans need. And they did it in their normal kick ass way. Having a new DT album is always a highlight of the year, and they do not let us down. There are many songs on this album that I will be adding to my long list of DT songs that I will never get tired of. That is such a good thing.
2019 is starting out to be a monster year for music I love. Dream Theater added to it in a big way here. Thanks boys. So glad you are back to “normal.” 🙂 HAHA!