Review DREAM THEATER ‘A View From The Top Of The World’

Dream Theater never released a disappointing album. Still there are some longplayers that created more excitement compared to some others. The first three Dream Theater records are milestones and the latest longplayer ‘Distance Over Time’ belongs for me to the real highlights of an anyhow impressive discography too.

The New York-based quintet belongs to the pioneers of progressive metal and inspired many other bands. What the quintet does with instruments and vocals is impressive and the newest release is a next treat for ears and mind. ‘A View from the Top of the World’ is the title if Dream Theater’s newest longplayer, another milestone that continues the greatness of ‘Distance over Time’.

Originally, Dream Theater had plans to continue the ‘Distance Over Time and the 20th anniversary of Scenes from A Memory’ touring activities before the pandemic put everything on hold. Not willing to sit still and having the Dream Theater HQ in place, a combination of studio, rehearsal place, …  the band decided to start with the songwriting process for a next album. Not having been pushed by tight schedules allowed the quintet to spend some extra time on creating new tunes. Only challenge was the fact of singer James LaBrie, due to the pandemic, being in Canada during the process but thanks to the internet and Zoom, physical distances doesn’t mean that you can’t connect. In March 2021 circumstances even allowed the singer to fly to New York City and after having been gone through the quarantine protocol, the road was paved for recording the vocals for this stunning album.

Two songs have been revealed prior to the album release date and you might have heard them already. It all starts with ‘The Alien’ and not only that the song is in the lead-off position of the album, but it was also the first one the band worked on for the new longplayer. Lyrically inspired by Eron Musk’s vision of discovering other planets, the song is about us, being the travelers in space and by that becoming the aliens. Musically the track is a perfect opener since it shows clearly what to expect from these 70 minutes. No doubt, Dream Theater didn’t change their sound. What fans get is 100% Dream Theater from start to finish. Rolled out over 71 minutes, the quintet finds the perfect combination of progressive song-structures, well-placed twists, heaviness and melody. Although solo parts get enough space, the songs always stay songs more than excessive solo fragments with some vocals in between.

Dream Theater tunes aren’t usually three minutes blasts and also the new longplayer features songs with epic length. There is ‘Sleeping Giant’ with great soundscapes, Pertucci’s singing guitar and vocals that are perfectly executed. The song has a cinematic expression and listening to LaBrie gives the impression of listening to a singing storyteller.

The best track though is reserved for the ending of the album. It is the 20 minutes title track that represents the grand finale. Of course, Dream Theater knows how to pen an epic song with such a length. Still, ‘A View from the Top of the World’ is special. Lyrically the songs is about people doing crazy things like slacklining across a canyon and other stuff to get an adrenaline push, to feel more alive than maybe ever before. This composition transports this lyrical concept and transfers it into music. It’s a vivid and throbbing tune that fascinates. The calmer and relaxed middle part is as great as the heavier outburst and while listening to middle section made me realize that album doesn’t come with a traditional ballad. I think that this is strength of ‘A View from the Top of the World’. Dream Theater still makes use of this style element but weaves it into songs rather than making it a stand-alone thing.

To sum up: ‘A View from the Top of the World’ is the highly anticipated new Dream Theater album and lives up to expectation with 100%. Dream Theater presents all they stand for. This longplayer is a jaw-dropping good one that will find many friends and fans, a wow-moment in 2021.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. The Alien
  2. Answering The Call
  3. Invisible Monster
  4. Sleeping Giant
  5. Transcending Time
  6. Awaken The Master
  7. A View From The Top Of The World

Label: InsideOut Music

Genre: Progressive Metal

Release Date EU: October 22nd, 2021

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