After the ambitious experiment that was ‘The Astonishing’, which I personally liked but received mixed reactions (I don’t know how many people invested the time to listen to a record that long multiple times, but whatever), Dream Theater are back to ‘normality’, to a record that represents their more compact side.
The quality of the performances is undisputed when it comes to DT, adding to that one of the best productions they ever had lifts the bar even higher. As far as compositions go, the opening trio is good but not awe-inspiring (excluding ‘Fall into the Light’s beautiful middle section), later however things really do get interesting.
‘Barstool Warrior’ is one of those melodic lead guitar playing manifestos by the one and only John Petrucci, ‘S2N’ is very dense, with an ending reminiscent of one of my favorites, ‘The Dark Eternal Night’, before the album’s peak with flawless juggernaut ‘At Wit’s End’.
‘Distance over Time’ might not be as impressive as ‘A Dramatic Turn of Events’ or as heavy as ‘Train of Thought’ – I am purposely leaving the 90s aside. For this stage of the band’s career though, 14 records deep… the only word that comes to mind is respect.