[Review] Dream Theater – A View From The Top Of The Wrorld

When we talk about Dream Theater we always encounter discontent opinions of those who prefer the period before 2002, supporting the thesis of the involution of the band. On the other hand, those without prejudice listen first and then comment, giving an evaluation that takes into account the changes, which are not always negative, even if sometimes not shared. We are facing the fifteenth album of a band that undoubtedly made the history of Progressive Metal music, forerunner of the sounds of the genre, with 70s inspirations always projected towards the future. This new chapter from the band titled “A View From The Top Of The Wrorld” was released on October 22, 2021 via InsideOut Music and containing a streamlined 7-song tracklist. Long duration with Heavy and sometimes dark sounds, with an epic suite of over 20 minutes as the final track, this album returns at least in part to the levels of the past, in my opinion. The opener “The Alien” which was presented as a single with video to introduce the album, starts right off strong with solid and elaborate drumming and massive guitar riffs. Petrucci and Mangini show an excellent alchemy between the two instruments, to which solid bass lines and ad hoc keyboard inserts are added. The instrumental sections, which are larger than the sung parts, highlight the virtuoso technique of guitar and keyboard that intertwine in tight solos. The vocal has the most engaging part of the test in the choruses, while in the stanzas it remains on standard levels, without too much or too little. After the convincing opening track “Answering the Call” shows right from the start how fit the band is, and the intertwining of guitar and keyboards proves it. Elaborate plots, with a touch of Metal and Prog that remind us of their past, skilfully brought to the present day. The drumming is solid and the bass lines are driving, with convincing vocal proof, which fits the track very well. The instrumental section in the second part takes the sound to another level with intertwining guitar and keyboard soloists at times virtuous, to be listened to and listened to again. “Invisible Monster” is a song that softens the tones, a mid-tempo that fits in the tracklist at the right moment, with lyrics that deal with problems related to anxiety. The sound is more accessible and less heavy, but there is no lack of elaborate passages and more technical inserts with good tempo changes, another successful piece. Another sought-after lyric is found in “Sleeping Giant” which faces coexistence with the beast that lives inside each of us. We return to heavier riffs, and a more drawn drumming, with a first part where the intertwining between guitar and keyboard dominates the scene. Rudess‘s orchestral cues are interesting, as are the elaborate and supporting bass lines, overall the music and vocals complement each other well, offering a track with good ideas that mixes Prog and Metal with their personal touch. With a more Rock style “Transcending Time” combines tradition with a modern touch, with an excellent Rudess on synths. With more melodic features, but with ideas and ideas well composed and performed, becoming more intricate in the instrumental section in the second part. The vocal is also dynamic and blends well with the melodies of the track, with the rhythmic session supporting the sound. Another single that anticipated the release of the album “Awaken the Master” is a heavy track, which experiences a more modern and current sound. The guitar riffs are massive, the rhythm and keyboard inserts tight and the vocals a little dirtier than we were used to in the previous ones. Enriched by tempo changes with good piano melodies to counterbalance the harder sound of the song, with Petrucci exploring the sounds of the 8-string guitar. From the first listen to its release as a video, it had impressed me with its energy and processing, enticing me to listen to the album, which until now has kept the good expectations I had. Here we are at the epic suite that closes the album, the title track “A View from the Top of the World” which is divided into 3 sections for over 20 minutes of music. The beginning is pompous with orchestrations and drum rolls, to then develop elaborate textures that enhance the technique of all the artists involved. The riffs are granite and intertwined with the keyboards, the rhythm session is solid and the drumming as well as the bass lines an added value. The theme of the lyrics is more current than ever, dealing with the challenge of man to death, with a dynamic singing that interprets the song at its best. The track develops between tempo changes, slower parts and other more accelerated ones that show an excellent state of form of the band, which varies between multiple genres and styles from Prog to Metal with ease. The album therefore closes very well, the suite is certainly the most complex piece of the entire work, refined and with high-level ideas. We are facing a good album, one of the best in recent years for the band, which shows an excellent state of form both for the ideas contained and for their execution. The individual technique of the artists involved is indisputable, whoever follows the band knows it. A listening recommended for fans of Dream Theater and more modern Prog, continuing the musical discourse of the band undertaken in the last 20 years, but raising the bar here.

Tracklist

01. The Alien (9:32)
02. Answering the Call (7:35)
03. Invisible Monster (6:31)
04. Sleeping Giant (10:05)
05. Transcending Time (6:25)
06. Awaken the Master (9:47)
07. A View from the Top of the World (20:24) :
– i. The Crowning Glory
– ii. Rapture of the Deep
– iii. The Driving Force

Lineup

John Myung / Bass
John Petrucci / Guitars, Additional Vocals
James LaBrie / Vocals
Jordan Rudess / Keyboards
Mike Mangini / Drums

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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