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Metal - Released June 22, 2009 | Roadrunner Records

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Metal - Released September 12, 2011 | Roadrunner Records

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Metal - Released February 22, 2019 | InsideOutMusic

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In 2016, prog metal progenitors Dream Theater issued the 130-minute conceptual opus The Astonishing, which all but left metal behind to pursue a classic prog direction. Widely acclaimed by mainstream rock media, it proved divisive among fans and the metal press. Whether they admit it or not, DT took note. When it was time to record for new label Inside Out, they collectively decamped to a rural spot and lived together for the four months it took to write and record Distance Over Time. Ultimately, they took full measure of their history together and made a nearly complete U-turn, heading (mostly) back to basics for an injection of inspiration and renewed force. First single and opener "Untethered Angel" is classic Dream Theater, offering an abominably heavy riff from bassist John Myung and guitarist John Petrucci. James LaBrie's clean vocals soar above Jordan Rudess' driving organ and synth and Mike Mangini's thundering double kick drums. It's replete with time and tempo changes. "Paralyzed," despite its 4:17 length, is a riotous crunch-and-crush jam with roiling snare and tom-tom thud; the unhinged grooves from Myung and Petrucci, along with Rudess' piano, add ballast and drama for LaBrie, and he delivers the lyrics with characteristic commitment and remarkable range. "Fall Into the Light" with its bell-like cymbals and crashing snares provides a backdrop for seriously heavy shredding, offering two of Petrucci's finest solos. Musically, "Barstool Warrior" and "Out of Reach" could have been part of The Astonishing (though they wouldn't fit its subject matter). Their hooky prog ranges from anthemic rock djent to ELP-esque keyboard runs to Peter Gabriel/Steve Hackett-era Genesis -- which all entwine and add an expansive dimension to Distance Over Time. "At Wit's End" is a creative peak that illustrates the band's preference for leaving the heaviest hitters near the album's end. It delivers a kaleidoscopic range of prog metal tenets with frenetic polyrhythms, screaming guitar and keyboard solos, chugging bass, and emotive, soulful vocal refrains. The eight-and-half-minute "Pale Blue Dot" is another. Using Carl Sagan's phrase for describing earth from space, it commences with an ambient sci-fi intro that balances intense heaviness, knotty, time-stretching progressions, near-symphonic bombast, a taut hook, a foreboding chorus, and killer solos from Petrucci and Rudess that aggressively engage counterpoint. Vintage-era Deep Purple were a big influence on Dream Theater. The bonus track "Viper King" is a charged yet radio-friendly tribute to the Ritchie Blackmore/Jon Lord/Ian Gillan era, with its punched-up hard/prog rock swing showcasing insane collisions of organ, with unhinged guitar and bass exchanges prodded by maniacal drumming in supporting a loping cinematic chorus. Dream Theater reaffirm their identity on Distance Over Time, displaying a collective hunger, abundant energy, creativity, and musical (re)discovery. This set should erase the schism between fans and win the band a whole slew of new ones. ~ Thom Jurek
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Hard Rock - Released September 20, 2013 | Roadrunner Records

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Though Dream Theater recruited drummer Mike Mangini to replace Mike Portnoy on 2011's A Dramatic Turn of Events, his drum parts had all been scripted before the change, leading to the rather stilted feeling of the album. This self-titled offering, the band's 12th album overall, marks the first time Mangini was involved in the writing and creative decision making from the jump and it shows. Produced by guitarist John Petrucci and recorded and mixed by Richard Chycki, this is one of the more dynamic, far-reaching albums in DT's catalog. Opener "False Awakening Suite" is a brief but cinematic near-instrumental with twinned guitars and keyboards riffs from Petrucci and keyboardist Jordan Rudess, all underscored by a string section and layered choral vocals by James LaBrie. The band's harder edges are displayed immediately after in "The Enemy Inside," with Mangini's fast, syncopated tom-tom and heavy drumming charging through the labyrinthine changes, as prog and death metal join in an unholy alliance; LaBrie is in command, atop it all. "The Looking Glass" is an obvious tribute to Rush, particularly the big arena anthems like "Spirit of Radio" and "Free Will" in its crunchy intro. It moves beyond that into something darker and more intricate with numerous time changes and interludes, yet always returns to the hook. These three tracks make for a fantastic opening trifecta, but the rest doesn't disappoint either. The driving, labyrinthine instrumental "Enigma Machine" features some of Petrucci's finest playing on the album, while "Behind the Veil" reveals itself slowly, emerging from lithe, whispering keyboard lines to engage explosive drumming and punishing guitar riffs and varied, thrumming bass parts from John Myung. All efforts lead to the five-part, 22-minute closer "Illumination Theory." Though it borrows a riff from "The Enemy Inside," inspiring its first instrumental section, it moves afield quickly. This is Dream Theater at its most creative. Rudess' keyboard playing comes right out of Frank Zappa in several sections, but particularly in "Live, Die Kill." There is an atmospheric interlude in the second instrumental part "The Embracing Circle." In the fourth section, "The Pursuit of Truth," Rudess, Petrucci, and Myung exchange fours, sixes, and eights in syncopated time signatures as Mangini prods them with explosive fills and elephantine rolls between verses. To finish, the music becomes positively majestic (à la Queen) in the final section "The Pursuit of Truth," whispering to a close with acoustic piano, strings, and a single-line guitar melody. Dream Theater is one of the quintet's big ones; it holds inside it everything a fan could want, yet also expands the reach of American prog metal. ~ Thom Jurek
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Metal - Released September 26, 2014 | Roadrunner Records

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