Dream Theater – Distance Over Time (2019)

If there is anything impressive about the music Dream Theater have been releasing for the past decade or so, it is the fact that just when one thinks they have reached a new nadir in pointless asinine cringe, they somehow manage to sink down to even further depths of banality with no apparent end in sight.

Way back in the late 80’s, Dream Theater originally started off as a band that sounded somewhat like a cross between a relatively mild take on the “white collar” USPM stylings of Queensrÿche and Fates Warning crossed with the melodious Synthpop of Rush’s 80’s output; while naturally being way more hyper-technical than any of those aforementioned acts. (As demonstrated on their early demos as Majesty and their 1989 debut). Afterwards, they catapulted their career by releasing a pair of albums in the early 90’s – Images and Words and Awake – that stylistically managed to tone down whatever Power Metal energy there was to begin with and (respectively) emphasize schmaltz pop and 90’s angst elements. Despite having saccharine and derivative tendencies, the accessible and emotionally-charged pop/rock nature of these records (with tints of “epic” sensations) makes it fully understandable how they managed to attain the captivation of relatively inexperienced listeners.

However, after the 1994 departure of keyboardist Kevin Moore (easily the most mature songwriter and overall restrained member), the quality (and honesty) of Dream Theater’s music began to plummet. From the mid-90’s to the late-00’s, the name “Dream Theater” would become fully identified with a sound that blends slick “modern”/“alternative” rock/“metal” over-production, cringe attempts at tampering their effete Christian Rock-esque melodicism with chugging “heaviness”, as well as blatant plagiarisms of almost every classic Rock/Metal/Prog band in history (especially – but by no means limited to – Rush) into the context of increasingly over-technical lengthy wank-a-thons that erroneously receive the reputation of being “Progressive”.

After hitting the artistic low point of their career with 2009’s Black Clouds & Silver Linings, the music they would make following the 2010 departure of founding drummer Mike Portnoy would somehow manage to break through to even deeper, darker dimensions of annoying bad music that subtly emanates a “Mandela Effect”-like uncanniness in its’ soulless mechanical recycling of the generic Dream Theater sound that had already been done to death for aeons.

So, after being active for over three decades, constantly churning out releases with never more than 2 or 3 years interim (with the according lack of discrimination or genuine inspiration becoming ever increasingly apparent)… where does this leave Dream Theater in 2019?

To put it as simply as possible: Bad Music.

2019’s Distance over Time would represent a new level of self-parody if only anything here was remotely amusing. While 00’s Dream Theater was at least full of moments of unintentional hilarity (as well as a few tracks that were actually listenable), the time for laughing has long past and listening to Nowadays Dream Theater is nothing but a throbbing headache to sit through. It speaks volumes that the least retarded thing here is the stupid fucking album art. [To wank or not to wank? That is the question…]

For all the so-called “progressiveness”, the present author honestly found it difficult to think straight at times while subjecting their attention to the intrusive aural presence of this obnoxious, insincere, whiny-sounding cluttered record. A much better alternative for mind-expanding sonic textures that genuinely point the reader towards more clear-minded “forward thinking” headspaces is BEHERIT. This album has received attention for having relatively “short” track lengths, but it is not clear why because the material is by no means more concise or un-ponderous. This album has also received notoriety among “fans” for being “one of their heaviest brah” when it just sounds like the same old soulless 2010’s Dream Theater sound; just with more of a basis in 69-stringed down-tuned chug-based guitar playing, even more pointlessly random awkward time signatures, and even less genuine emotion or sense of memorable melody.

Ever since he joined the group back in 1999, Nowadays Keyboardist Jordan Rudess has consistently maintained his role as being easily the most egregious sonic offender of all the DT instrumentalists. This is definitely still the case with the most obnoxious elements present being attributable to hokey lame-ass noises that (alongside the general uber-tasteless wankery) were never present before he joined the band. Such incalculably annoying segments ( such as 2:15 of the opening single) would give the present author AIDS if it were possible for someone who has listened to Dream Theater to ever engage in any form of sexual contact. Even the most diehard of haters will long for a return to the (by comparison) tempered soulful tastefulness of the Kevin Moore era.

When the preceding double disc “rock opera” abortion The Astonishing came out 3 years prior, the present author honestly thought it was one of the worst albums they had ever heard in their life. While it is uncertain whether or not Distance over Time has managed to be even more terrible (the present author has never re-listened to it since its release and surely has no intention of ever doing so)… does it really matter?

With the band openly acknowledging their Nowadays music as being nothing but a Reddit Meme, this surely leaves only one rhetorical question:

Will Dream Theater ever reach Rock Bottom?

To which, in relation to the title in question, Dark Angel already answered on their own “ultra-technical” affair decades prior: Time Does Not Heal.



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32 thoughts on “Dream Theater – Distance Over Time (2019)”

  1. Nathan Metric says:

    The cuckface in that photo should spend six days with the sadistic slayer.

  2. Dirty Coke Nail of Doom says:

    What are the Dark Lords of DMU’s overall opinions on Dark Angel? I thought the little jab at them at the end of the article was funny, since that’s mostly a giant turd of an album. But what of their other albums?

    1. Tyrell Dahlstrom says:

      I personally like them and used to listen to Darkness Descends a lot back in high school. Overall, maybe not a top tier band, but definitely a great hyper-violent blast of fun, and Gene Hoglan is probably one of my favourite drummers in Metal.

      I can’t speak for anyone else, although I have a vague memory of seeing somebody here shitting on them in the past. I believe Brett/Prozak specifically may be on record of not being a fan but definitely don’t quote me on that.

      That also wasn’t even intended as a “jab”, I just kind of wrote this article on the fly and the stupid “pun” connection between the titles just somehow popped into my head.

    2. dirty dick of doo doo says:

      darkness descends rules

  3. Almost all Dream Theater albums are boring and soft. There is no reason to listen to them. Replace this with King Crimson.

    1. Tyrell Dahlstrom says:

      “Almost all Dream Theater albums are boring and soft.”

      Sure. Although the “boring and soft” nature of their 1990’s material is certainly greatly preferable by comparison to whatever the hell their 2010’s stuff is.

      “There is no reason to listen to them. Replace this with King Crimson.”

      Basically yeah.

  4. Harder Than Your Husband says:

    It’s not worse than the Asstonishing. It’s really not. The production is decent and they’re not literally trying to write a disney script. The fans are going to eat this up. I probably would have too if I had never discovered this website.

    Thank you all for all that you do.

    1. Chrised says:

      Gotta love the honesty!

    2. Tyrell Dahlstrom says:

      “It’s not worse than the Asstonishing. It’s really not. […] they’re not literally trying to write a disney script.”

      Probably fair enough. This is still a really really bad album.

      “Thank you all for all that you do.”

      Your welcome friend

    3. No Cure says:

      You will always remain homosexual.

  5. JuttshatHeact says:

    I,m a new here can you sugggest any thing

    1. Tyrell Dahlstrom says:

      This in general is good music:

      http://www.deathmetal.org/article/36752/
      http://www.deathmetal.org/analysis/a-guide-to-electronic-music/

      As an alternative to Dream Theater check out all the classic Prog bands from Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Rush, etc.

      Or as another alternative, for vaguely artsy/schmaltzy Metal that actually has both Testosterone and real Compositional talent check out VIRGIN STEELE. [hint: at an upcoming future article]

      Or you can just listen to Slayer, Venom, Bathory, Beherit, Blasphemy, etc. and bestially conquer the desecration of doom or something like that

  6. Greg says:

    Oh, fuck off, man. You couldn’t write anything close to the masterpieces these virtuoso gods have written. Go pretend like your existence matters elsewhere. Fucking hating just to gain attention.

    1. NWN War Metal Tranny Rapist says:

      Go back to your dildo collection you faggot! You couldn’t rape trannies like us because you’re a fucking shemale! I will sodomize your ass and when you are bedridden from dying with AIDS, I will only laugh and still rape you!

    2. Tyrell Dahlstrom says:

      “Oh, fuck off, man. ”

      mean :(

      “You couldn’t write anything close to the masterpieces these virtuoso gods have written.”

      Even if we go on the assumption that earlier Dream Theater outings were “masterpieces” (at any rate they certainly are when compared against this turd, and I admittedly still have somewhat of a adolescent-nostalgia soft spot for the Kevin Moore stuff against my better judgement), why does this mean we can’t call them out when they betray their own standards and release weak efforts such as this?

      “Go pretend like your existence matters elsewhere. ”

      only deaf israel xD

      “Fucking hating just to gain attention.”

      Fucking-Hating to gain attention? Kinky.

  7. Realprogfan says:

    Blah blah blah you guys couldnt do better so shut up

    1. Haku Zynkyoku says:

      The jew fears the samurai.

    2. Tyrell Dahlstrom says:

      no u

  8. Ryan says:

    All I can say about this article is consider the source.. WTF is a death metal magazine reviewing a band that is the antithesis of death metal? Why waste your time: stick what you know: you are not worthy of writing about the greatest program metal group of all time. Have a nice day.

    1. Tyrell Dahlstrom says:

      Hello.

      Despite this site’s name, we have articles that focus on all types of Metal and Music in general – including “Progressive Rock”.

      I specifically, the author of this article, am personally a big fan of this style of music and actually enjoy it much more than Death Metal and about equally to Black Metal and Heavy Metal.

      I also used to be a big fan of Dream Theater in my younger years (and admittedly still enjoy some of their early material as a “guilty pleasure” while recognizing it for what it is), and am overall extremely familiar with their extensive musical output and how it has deteriorated over the years as I touched on this article.

      So actually, I was very much “sticking to what I know” when I wrote this article.

      “you are not worthy of writing about the greatest [prog] metal group of all time”

      hence why I wrote about Dream Theater and not John Arch-era Fates Warning ;)

    2. BDS Suplex says:

      Go back to israel you jew!

  9. thunderbiodome says:

    Reading this reminded me that i actually owned Images And Words back in the day- until i heard Thought Industry’s Songs For Insects. SFI ended that little problem. It had all of DT’s aspirations but none of its cliches.

  10. Iggy Farben says:

    This is a good piece on a band that I have rarely listened to or cared about. Because of it, I listened to/watched the “Majesty” video on youtube yesterday. It wasn’t bad at all, some of it reminded me of the old Leviathan (pre-Anvil Chorus) demos that I used to have, which is a good thing! Seeing young Mike Portnoy play was inspiring.
    Bands like DT who can ‘really play’ deserve their moment in the spotlight and also to be critically ass-essed.
    BTW I repeat myself when I’m under stress I repeat myself when I’m under stress I repeat myself

    1. Tyrell Dahlstrom says:

      yeah. this “Majesty” track is my favourite Dream Theater song

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WE0zBk8I2G8

      BTW I repeat myself when I’m under stress I repeat myself when I’m under stress I repeat myself

      Discipline is a great album :)

  11. bratwurst of devourer, svennerick says:

    Better blast Decrepit Birth, it’s at least like Deeds Of Flesh playing Death/Iron Maiden melodies, if you want “progressive” music.

  12. John II says:

    I must admit to experiencing a certain amount of amusement when reading this article. In the interests of full disclosure, I must state that I appreciate your writing structure and diction. However, that is where my appreciation ends. Your claim that Dream Theater is pop, rather than prog, is simply laughable. Generally accepted characteristics of prog are a focus on instrumental virtuosity (see Neale Peart, Tony Levin, Keith Emerson), large suites and lengthy songs (see Thick as a Brick, Karn Evil 9, 2112), concept albums (see Selling England by the Pound, The Wall, Thick as a Brick), odd time signatures (see Xanadu, Schism, Tarkus), and fantasy based lyrics (see Tarkus, 2112, In the Court of the Crimson King). Keyboard solos are also more often used in prog than other genres (see the entire discographies of ELP and Yes). I do believe that DT covers all of these. They are all fantastically capable, they wrote Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and A Change of Seasons, they wrote The Dance of Eternity which ties together multiple time signatures impeccably, and they wrote Scenes From a Memory and The Ashtonishing which are both concept albums with fantasy lyrics. As for keyboard solos, I believe anyone who has heard a Dream Theater song will agree that they tend to have the odd solo. Therefore, they satisfy a lot of the general characteristics of prog. However, this does not necessarily mean they capture the definition of prog. To my mind, prog is about progressing music, and advancing the genre. Doing things that have not been done before. DT works here, too, as they spawned an entire genre (progressive metal), influencing bands such as Haken and Leprous. Therefore, it is ridiculous to describe then as pop.
    As for this album, I freely admit it’s not Dream Theater’s best. However, it is a lot more interesting than any of the slayer-esque shock metal you seem to advocate, which seems largely to consist of palm-muted power chords at high tempos and a guy screaming about how he loves satan.

    1. All these characteristics you mentioned exist in pop music. The long songs, keyboard solos, virtuosity and odd time signatures are all present in 80s bands like Toto. Considering that James Labrie is pretty much a standard 80s singer, anyone can see how close DT is to pop. Now if we apply the prog rock definition to these prog metal bands, none of them are prog nor metal. Bands like King Crimson took Rock music and applied the arrangements of classical to create sprawling and well flowing compositions. DT and the like just have long verses and inexplicably painful masturbation bridges where every member has a solo for what feels like eternity before returning to the chorus. Haken is even worse and more obvious than DT. The DT albums you mentioned took Metallica’s riffs and just added keyboards see “Constant Motion” for the “Blackened”.
      None of these bands emptily profess that they love Satan. Each story in metal follows the flow of the songs and Satan is a metaphor for the left hand path, the denial of the pseudo-spirituality of priests etc. The Astonishing lyrics are Rush 2112 for those too mentally impaired to listen to Rush. The bands we enjoy may utilize simple power chord riffs but it’s the way that they are utilized together and how they create tension by flowing into narrative song structures which makes them far more interesting than anything that DT has made.

      1. John II says:

        There’s a difference between Toto’s 10 minute song extensions and Tarkus or Six Degrees. Regard virtuosity, there is a large ability gap between the likes of John Myung and Tony Levin and people like David Hungate.
        Adding elements of classical? You mean similar to the way Haken added jazz for Aquarius? Or how DT adds jazz to pretty much everything they do?

        1. DT and Haken added Jazz by just taking established Speed metal devised by Metallica and the like removing the melodies and incorporating more complex and static rhythms that add nothing to the music except for making dance-friendly.

          You would be surprised at the level of virtuosity contained within pop music and how it surpassed a lot of technical bands, see the guitarist of Toto. DT just give me room for the bassist to noodle around aimlessly. Technical ability never meant much in terms of music and is easily attained. Writing powerful music is beyond the scope of most musicians including the DT wave of bands. See the difference between Yngwie Malmsteen and Tonny Iommi.

    2. There are pop-prog bands too, like Rush. The main thing about progressive rock was that it tried to push the limits of rock by making it more complex, instead of going the punk route (which in turn it inspired to go further). The classical connection comes through how they used central melodic themes instead of simply being grab-bags of random stuff, which is why the term “technical” was invented. Technical means hard to play, but not necessarily through-composed.

      1. Tyrell Dahlstrom says:

        “Technical means hard to play, but not necessarily through-composed.”

        Sums it up perfectly in one sentence.

    3. Hello Mr. “John II”, I am the author of this article and only just noticed your comment and corresponding thread of replies, seeing how this is already a semi-buried month-old post.

      “I must admit to experiencing a certain amount of amusement when reading this article. In the interests of full disclosure, I must state that I appreciate your writing structure and diction.”

      Thank you very much for the compliment.

      “However, that is where my appreciation ends. Your claim that Dream Theater is pop, rather than prog, is simply laughable.”

      To be fair I didn’t touch on that point in too much detail, beyond linking to an article written by someone else. It is pretty simple to grasp though, most Dream Theater songs follow verse-chorus structures and have an overtly saccharine sense of melodic “catchiness”, with only the extended solos/instrumental bridge section giving the illusory impression of being a more “progressive” song structure.

      (For the record, at least in my personal view there is nothing inherently wrong with Pop in and of itself, I will freely admit to being a fan of AC/DC, ABBA, and Depeche Mode among many others… however I would never claim what they are doing is “progressive” in the sense of 70’s Genesis or King Crimson!)

      “Generally accepted characteristics of prog are a focus on instrumental virtuosity, large suites and lengthy songs, concept albums, odd time signatures, and fantasy based lyrics. Keyboard solos are also more often used in prog than other genres. I do believe that DT covers all of these.”

      Van Halen are instrumental virtuoso’s, repetitive Techno/Trance music generally have rather long track lengths, everyone from 3-chord Boomer Rock to Soundcloud Rappers have made “concept albums”, lyrics in general are irrelevant to musical genre classification, etc.

      That said at the end of the day, what ultimately matters is the quality of an artist’s song-writing, not whether or not they fit into a specific arbitrarily-defined “genre”, that quip was ultimately just a minor add-on from my end that you seem to have fixated a little too heavily on.

      “However, this does not necessarily mean they capture the definition of prog. To my mind, prog is about progressing music, and advancing the genre. Doing things that have not been done before.

      On this point I will defer on (mostly) agreement to the comments made by Nicholas and Brett in order to save space and time.

      “DT works here, too, as they spawned an entire genre (progressive metal), influencing bands such as Haken and Leprous.”

      Dream Theater by no means “spawned” “Progressive Metal”.

      Also, if influencing shitty imitators is a benchmark for progression, then that would mean Blasphemy are the Gods of Prog LOL

      “However, it is a lot more interesting than any of the slayer-esque shock metal you seem to advocate, which seems largely to consist of palm-muted power chords at high tempos and a guy screaming about how he loves satan”

      Even if that was an accurate characterization of the music advocated by this site [it’s not btw lol], where did I ever “advocate” for such bands? A common misconception seems to be that all writers on this site are the same person, you can click the hyperlink around my name above this comment to see the other articles I have written in case you are curious as to what I have “advocated” so far.

      Slayer, at least their 1983-1988 material, are one of the greatest musical acts of the past century so I don’t really understand why you invoke their name like it’s a bad thing.

      Some recommended reading to correct your Mallcore/Soccer Mom misperception that Extreme Metal’s ideological basis and compositional merits is limited to “shock value” and aimlessly playing fast.

      http://www.deathmetal.org/faq/

      LEARN THE SACRED WORDS OF PRAISE HAIL SATAN

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