Dream Theater are among the titans of the Progressive Metal world and with a well known name like theirs, there comes a lot of expectation and possibly some skepticism which is par for the course considering their 3 decade long history.
The band are known for their vast soundscapes of conceptual madness, intricate and technical guitars, distinctive vocals that on occasion border on the near impossible, upbeat drums and timing that requires a University degree of sorts to fathom. They are operatic, dramatic and theatrical with their storytelling.
‘A View From The Top Of The World’ has a grand total of 7 tracks, 6 of which range comfortably between the 6 to 10 minute mark but it is the epic 20 minute journey of the title track that brings the record full circle.
‘A View…’ opens with The Alien; a high tempo, surprisingly heavy track which starts with a 2 minute long instrumental showcasing the band’s technical prowess before James LaBrie’s evocative vocals introduce you to the journey ahead.
Comparably, the following tracks ‘Answering the Call’ and ‘Invisible Monster’ begin with similar instrumentals albeit slightly shorter. They have the standard experimental elements that would be expected of prog metal tracks.
Next up we have ‘Sleeping Giant’ which is considerably more symphonic and darker whilst the following track ‘Transcending Time’ offsets this with its upbeat, quirky riffs and keys.
Awaken the Master is, in my opinion, one of the more experimental tracks on the record, reminiscent of final boss fight video game music of the 90s. It opens with yet another epic instrumental spanning over 2 and a half minutes of the track’s total 9 minute 47 second long play time.
Finally, we arrive at the aforementioned 20 minute long saga that is the title track. ‘A View From The Top Of The World’ takes all of the elements of the previous tracks and forges them together in a blend of ambient yet technically hectic wizardry to close the record.
Progressive Metal comes with the danger of missing the beat, stagnation and experimentation that goes off the rails but it can also bear the fruits of success. Yet, their 15th studio album ‘A View From The Top Of The World’ is very much a typical Dream Theater sound. A sound that is well known and safe (which may seem somewhat contradictory for progressive metal).
I don’t particularly vibe with this record but it’s not a bad record either. I give it a 7.5/10.
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