Dream Theater’s A View From The Top of the World Album Review
Dream Theater soars to new heights with “A View From the Top of the World”. The album starts on the same path laid out by DOT and quickly accelerates to new levels. It has everything we love about Dream Theater– mind-bending riffs, technical virtuosity, emotional solos, jaw-dropping vocals, amazing interplay between JP & JR, otherworldly drums and awesome hooks, all delivered in a tight mix with more bass, and a drum sound that will delight fans.
AVFTTOTW starts at a furious pace with The Alien, which was the first single, and in our opinion, the best representation of everything the album has to offer. The Alien brings us unrelenting riffs, in a dizzying 17/8 time signature and yet it has beautiful breaks and unexpected turns. One of the heaviest DT songs in recent years, we love its theme of space exploration and discovery, especially the concept that one day humans themselves will become the aliens.
Answering the Call , is one of our favorite tracks in the album, it’s heavy yet melodic. Each person in the band answers the call to showcase their abilities on this track. The dynamic interplay between JP and JR is fantastic and helps bring this song to life. Myung and Mangini shine with a killer rhythm and a groove that keeps you engaged and tapping your foot throughout the song. JLB shines with a multi-faceted approach to his vocals, bringing us beautiful and unforgettable moments. Finally, the masterful mix by Andy Sneap really helps cement this track not only as highlight in the album, but also as a standout for the entire catalog. We can only hope it will make an appearance on the setlist for the upcoming 2022 tour… we can picture ourselves in the crowd at a DT show rocking out to this song \m/
Invisible Monster, the second single, not only has one of the most memorable melodies on the album, but it has one of the most relatable themes, especially during these past two years of pandemic. Invisible Monster delves into the anxiety and self-doubt we all experience, and how they can slowly suffocate us if we allow them to. This song has one of our favorite riffs, and our favorite JP solo on the album. Both take you to the edge sonically and then settle down into beautiful melodic passages. This is the closest to a ballad in the album but still possesses heaviness and grit.
Sleeping Giant will no doubt become a fan favorite. This 10-minute epic has everything we love about Dream Theater- the riffs, trading solos, the thoughtful lyrics, powerful singing, raw emotion, and such a buildup… once the Sleeping Giant is awakened, watch out. Just a fantastic song that we wish could have gone on just a little longer, especially with such an ending. Lyrically, it deals with embracing some of that dark side we all have within us, but at the same time, not allowing it to fully take over. It’s all in achieving that perfect balance to lead a more fulfilling life.
Transcending Time is an uplifting, joyous track with a familiar Rush influence. It’s one that truly grows with each listen. It’s the perfect break in the album to allow you to catch your breath, and just when you think you have figured out where it’s going, it surprises you once again.
Awaken the Master is one of the tracks we’ve been asked most about. It’s undoubtedly the 8-string guitar song of the album but it delivers in true Dream Theater fashion. This is not a Djent song… you get classic JP on guitar, only heavier. It’s a sonic rollercoaster with crushing riffs and soaring sections. It also has some of the most complex instrumental sections in the album. Lyrically, we feel that in Awaken the Master we realize that we have been missing the point on a long, arduous journey. Maybe we have become too focused on a particular goal or mindset that we neglect to see that the journey getting there, and the challenges we have overcome, are the real point and purpose of it all.
A View from the Top of the World is a masterpiece… and instant classic that takes you many places on a prog-filled journey. It’s biggest strength is that it finds a perfect balance between cinematic movements, instrumental virtuosity, and beautiful, haunting melodies. It’s an experience, and even clocking in as the longest title track in the DT catalog, we are so engrossed by the different movements that it goes by rather quickly.
As we finish this album we can only reflect on what is one of the strongest DT albums to date, and one in which every single person in the band shines and has his moment. The album is the perfect marriage of classic DT & the newer sound elements we’ve come to love, and manages to deliver even more progginess. We can honestly say that some of the tracks have become catalog favorites for us. Dream Theater has outdone themselves yet again, and prove that after all these years, they are stronger, faster and more inspired than ever. We can’t wait for you to hear this album and we can’t wait to hear some of these songs live!!
Special shout outs and thank you to Kim at Dream Theater World and Freddy at Inside Out Music.
Review by Victoria Martinez for Dream Theater USA.