Dream Theater question a lot on their newest effort, Distance Over Time. Thanks to their long, distinct, and particular “progressive” sound, they’ve often worked under this banner, but this time their work feels even further that direction. Their experimentation this time around feels more all-encompassing and especially engaging.

They seem to ask why progression and technicality have to be relentlessly in the listener’s face when they’re present, and at the same time, they seem to ask why more conventional metal has to be smoothed over and just riff after riff when there’s so much more that can be done.

At times, Distance Over Time even sounds like the band questioning why conventional limits on what they can do with their instruments have to be in place, since with a relatively straightforward framework, they launch into a remarkable panoply of styles beyond simple either/or understandings. Their guitarwork feels reminiscent of a violin at one point.

The band tie their work together with an attention to the emotional underpinnings of their craft, letting their lyrics and overall “feel” burst with the question of why human life has to be confined to conventional boundaries. Although they’re not just peddling science fiction, their music does maintain a “cosmic” feel while asking its emotional implicit (and explicit) questions.

Their brand of experimentation on Distance Over Time feels less for the sake of technical prowess and more for the sake of an apparent broader aim to explore. Both the band members and the listeners benefit from the particular paths they take, since their music ends up both fun and enriching, often at the same time. They’ve really established themselves in a particularly striking groove here that should not be taken for granted. Their pushing of the envelope serves a very human purpose, and on that note, their newest effort sticks out while also maintaining plenty for the prog aficionado to savor.

They offer the listener somewhat of the best of both world with at times lengthy tracks and significant instrumental interludes that never drift too far from what they were “talking about” in the first place. They find a new middle ground that, no matter if they’ve been rocking for decades or not, feels fresh and ready to be enjoyed.

Purchase the album here.  

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