Our readers know that here in the Republic of Progarchy, we call ’em like we hear ’em.
So, it should be no shock if we hold nothing back, as when we discovered Dream Theater had dropped a deuce (see The Astonishing Pile of Crap), or, more recently, when Steven Wilson’s hand erases the raven and bites the fans that feed him.
In the same vein, we have to give credit where credit is due. And with A View from the Top of the World, the muscular and mighty Dream Theater serves up a grand-slam prog metal comeback.
This is a solid album and every track pummels home the undeniable truth that Dream Theater on a good day is a force to be reckoned with and can blow away almost any band on Earth.
Heck, I am convinced Mike Mangini could beat the crap out of any drummer on the planet. His enfilading fire over the drumkit carries me back to that adolescent wonder at hearing Neil Peart do things that you never knew a human could do with the sticks. Drummers of the world need to give this album some kind of special award for his performance alone.
But of course every musician in Dream Theater is top tier, and John Petrucci is a standout, not just for his masterclass in shredding faster than the speed of light, but also for his excellent lyrics on this album.
When you give this disc a first listen, don’t give up in exhaustion when Dream Theater’s dream team of musical prodigies overwhelms you with the Mozart school of “too many notes” musicality (the unofficial Progarchy motto). Wait patiently for those magical moments when you are hooked in and happily surrender, knowing that you can’t wait to return and hear the album again.
For me, it happened as soon as I heard “Transcending Time,” which is a truly glorious track that manages to combine the sound of the Steve Morse Band with that of classic Rush. The first line of the lyrics should immediately transport you to the metrical pattern of the first line of Rush’s “Red Barchetta.” This song alone should cement your purchase of the CD, as it did for me.
I can’t remember the last time I was this excited by a Dream Theater song. (Actually, I can. It was “The Enemy Inside,” and then the Limelight-laden “The Looking Glass.”)
The other track that knocked me off my complacent critic’s chair was the title track. Clocking in at twenty minutes, I have to admit that every minute of it is enthralling, and every time it ends I find myself wishing it would stop the fade and simply continue. It’s just so cool.
All hail Dream Theater for their most amazing comeback on this track and on this album.
It is right and just that the legendary Hugh Syme adorns this magnificent album with his most excellent art work.
Dream Theater FTW!