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Dream Theater - 'Distance Over Time' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/05/2d/85/Dream-Theater-Distance-Over-Time-79-1557861228.jpg Hot

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An absolute triumph.

I've been a fan of Dream Theater since their debut release, but after Mike Portnoy's departure their albums haven't delivered the same level of enjoyment. However, I'm delighted to report that 'Distance Over Time' is an absolute triumph; for me, it's a significant return to form that gives me a similar thrill to when I first heard their 'Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory' record.

The tracks feel more concise and I'm in no doubt that the change to their writing process (see interview) has been hugely beneficial in producing such a fine album. From my perspective, the songs are the focus rather than the dexterity of their playing and the solos.

'Untethered Angel' opens proceedings with an ominous feel before exploding into action in typical fashion. The chorus is instantly memorable, whereas the instrumental section with John Petrucci (guitar) and Jordan Rudess (keys) trading the lead is incisive and tuneful. 'Paralyzed' ebbs and flows with its strong hooks, while Petrucci's solo is short but very sweet.

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'Fall Into The Light' has a Hard Rock opening riff, but it soon adopts a more familiar sound. The quiet middle section is a testament to their arrangement skills with yet more delightful guitar that builds the track up again. 'Barstool Warrior' starts with a flurry and features soloing from Petrucci that has him at his melodic best; I adore it when he plays in this more restrained manner. Again, the melody is terrific and gets right into your head. 'Room 137' is instantly recognisable as Dream Theater with its more technical feel, although it's the one song that hasn't entirely convinced me.

'S2N' alternates aggressive verses with another melodic chorus, whereas the album's longest track 'At Wit's End' is varied in its approach, but hinges on great riffs and a fine vocal melody from James LaBrie. This superb arrangement sees the bombast replaced by voice and piano at the halfway point before the power grows again for another terrific solo. 'Out Of Reach' is a power ballad that builds with wonderful piano from Rudess and another magical solo from Petrucci while LaBrie excels vocally. 'Pale Blue Dot' is the most technical offering on the record, but it hangs together due to the strong melodies that surround the furious soloing sections. The bonus track 'Viper King' has elements that bring Deep Purple to mind.

With 'Distance Over Time', Dream Theater have delivered an immense and extremely accomplished album.

Gary Marshall

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