The American progressive metal band Dream Theater has been one of the most commercially successful bands of this genre for over 30 years now. The fact that the band has not only been a constant presence on the world's stages during its long existence, but has also recorded a large number of albums that have repeatedly made it to top positions in the charts, is in itself an enormous achievement. Their latest, fifteenth studio album has just been released, more precisely, in October 2021. The work on Top of the World began already a year ago, for the first time in their own studio DTHQ. As a producer, the industry-renowned Andy Sneap could be won, who is responsible for the mix and mastering of the seven new songs. Due to the pandemic, all band members except the longtime vocalist James LaBrie worked on the new material on site at DTHQ. James LaBrie, on the other hand, was connected via Zoom from Canada. Unusual times call for unusual measures, which in this case are made possible by the advanced digital state of the art.
Can you still expect something really new from a band, even if it is as well cast as Dream Theater, after decades of activity? Hardly. It is already a miracle if such a band is able to maintain its previous level with a new album. And that's exactly what Dream Theater does with A View From The Top Of The World. With this album, the band manages to maintain its high level, which has been constantly maintained over many years. That they cannot top their concept album Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory with the instrumental high-flyers "Beyond This Life", "Home" and "The Dance of Eternity" on the new album is probably in the nature of things; there are moments in the history of every band that are unique. As already mentioned, this does not change the fact that it takes a lot for a band like Dream Theater to still be in full juice after more than thirty years.
Admittedly, the tracks "The Alien" and "Answering the Call", for example, are based on Dream Theater's well-known approach to doing justice to the genre of their music. However, the quality of how old familiar things are realized here is remarkable. "Invisible Monster," in which the guitar and keyboard parts of John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess mesh perfectly and form distinctly beautiful harmonies, is a testament to the harmony Dream Theater achieves on the new album, despite all the crass ferocity inherent in the progressive metal genre. On the eternally long title "Sleeping Giant", which is so typical for the band, as well as on the shear never-ending title track, it really goes to the bone. It doesn't get much crazier than this. James LaBrie shines here with extremely strong vocals. And the rest of the band shows what they are technically capable of. The smash hit on A View from the Top of the World is the fantastic power ballad "Transcending Time", which sounds as if it could have come straight from one of the band's 90s albums. To take off.
Although A View From The Top Of The World doesn't reinvent the wheel, it's a superbly realized album on a high playing level that does honor to the band's history and feeds the anticipation of Dream Theater's devotees for future albums.
James LaBrie, vocals
John Petrucci, guitars, production
John Myung, bass
Jordan Rudess, keyboards
Mike Mangini, drums