Album Review: Dream Theater - A View From the Top of The World
Reviewed by Tim Finch
Dream Theater are a band that should need no introduction. The multi-Grammy nominated progressive metal outfit are nearing forty years as an active band and during that period they have produced fourteen immersive and engaging albums that pushed the boundaries of what is technically (and physically) possible.
As the bands 40th anniversary draws nearer they release their fifteenth album, ‘A View From The Top Of The World’. When the pandemic hit, the band were in the middle of a world tour for their previous opus ‘Distance Over Time’. The enforced lockdown enabling the band to focus on writing once more thus this new album is born.
The opening salvo of ‘The Alien’ does not break the listener in gently, a barrage of drums accompanied by a snarling guitar pummels your ears as the story telling expands. Somehow they manage to perfectly tailor the music to the theme and without a single vocal yet sung you know immediately what the subject matter for this tune will be.
The use of keyboards and synth at the start of ‘Answer The Call’ changes the tone set by the opener. The song more immediately available, less boundary pushing than the opener, yet still distinctively Dream Theater full of epic tempo changes and directional switches.
You cannot deny that Dream Theater are masters at what they do. Throughout this album they deliver seven epic tales, told through the medium of music. Each switch in rhythm and tempo directs the listener on the story they are now enveloped in. James LaBrie’s vocals as much an instrument as the guitars and keyboards steering you through the twists and turns of each tale.
As the album nears it’s end, ‘Awaken The Master’ ramps up the intensity, as if you have reached the end of world boss in a computer game. The listener drawn to the edge of their seat, how will this tale end? Where do we go next? The answer… the megalithic ‘A View From the Top of The World’ the album’s title track rounds the release out with twenty minutes and twenty four seconds of magical story telling. The previous six tracks merely the preamble to what is about to come!
Dream Theater have a way of turning heavy music into majestic tales and this album strengthens their back catalogue with yet another masterpiece. If you have yet to jump on the Dream Theater band wagon, ‘A View From the Top of The World’ is the perfect place to start!