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Dream Theater

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Dream Theater A View from the Top of the World album cover
3.78 | 340 ratings | 23 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2021

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Alien (9:32)
2. Answering the Call (7:35)
3. Invisible Monster (6:31)
4. Sleeping Giant (10:05)
5. Transcending Time (6:25)
6. Awaken the Master (9:47)
7. A View from the Top of the World (20:24) :
- i. The Crowning Glory
- ii. Rapture of the Deep
- iii. The Driving Force

Total Time 70:19

Line-up / Musicians

- John Myung / bass
- John Petrucci / guitars, additional vocals
- James LaBrie / vocals
- Jordan Rudess / keyboards
- Mike Mangini / drums

Releases information

Release date: October 22, 2021
Label: InsideOut Music

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DREAM THEATER A View from the Top of the World ratings distribution

(340 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

DREAM THEATER A View from the Top of the World reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars The name DREAM THEATER is almost synonymous with the genre progressive metal given that this was the band responsible for bringing this hybrid of progressive rock and heavy metal to the world at large with its lauded "Images And Words" album all the way back in 1992. Despite having existed as the kingpin of the genre for almost three decades now, DREAM THEATER has been eclipsed by countless other bands in terms of consistency and innovation however despite this band's on again off again commitment to quality control, there is no doubt that this pioneering band has cranked out some ridiculously brilliant music over the years.

I'm hardly one who chomps at the bit waiting for a new DREAM THEATER album to hit the market but i do like the band enough to keep up with their albums and listen at least once before moving on to the next thing. Well here we are in the year 2021, some 32 years after the band's debut "When Dream And Day Unite" and DREAM THEATER is back with its 15th studio album A VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE WORLD with its surprisingly stable lineup since 2011's "A Dramatic Turn Of Events." While DT has been on autopilot for a while now simply recycling its past glory and offering okay enough but won't blow you away albums, A VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE WORLD comes off as a nice surprise.

True this new album isn't reinventing the wheel and could never be mistaken for any other act other than DREAM THEATER but what his album seems to exhibit unlike many of the recent past is a return to the passion that made many of the 90s albums so magical. The tunes seem more inspired, the details seem more ironed out and things don't sound blatantly by the numbers as they have in the past. In fact this album sounds as if it should be inserted into the timeline where "Falling Into Infinity" fell short. Whatever the case, it seems that the cancellation of the 2020 tour due to the pandemic was just the ticket for the band to find the time to rekindle the dwindling mojo and return to the years of yore when DREAM THEATER albums actually were something to get excited about.

A VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE WORLD is the first album to be recorded in the band's own studio, DTHQ (Dream Theater Headquarters) so perhaps this return to form is a result of musical independence that had been lacking. The album was mixed and mastered by legendary Sabbath guitarist Andy Sneap and the musical team of John Petrucci, John Myung, Jordan Rudess, James LaBrie and Mike Mangini sounds as if these guys on the top of their game once again with seven instantly lovable tracks that offer everything you could expect from classic DREAM THEATER. The band has experimented over the years with varying degrees of progressiveness, dedication to the metal aspect of its equation as well as the other elements that make up the DREAM THEATER equation.

On album #15, the band employs all of the metal heft that you can hear on the heaviest albums (such as "Awake"), the most knotty prog fueled gymnastics (as heard on most of the 90s albums) along with the fearless exploration of virtuosic soloing. On A VIEW you will not hear any of those ridiculously convoluted ballads, no substandard vanilla dumbing down of the extremities or blatant mining of their past. What you will hear is excellent songwriting fortified with high standard musicianship and a return to the more progressive aspects that put the prog in the metal back in the day. The album Shortest track "Transcending Time" is 6:25 whereas the highlight of the album which is the title track clocks in at 20 1/2 minutes with three distinct parts! The recent Liquid Tension Experiment sessions seem to have carried over on this one :)

Let's face it, DREAM THEATER has peaked and unless the band decides to completely reinvent itself it's going to be simply retreading that which it has already done and A VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE WORLD is no exception. There is nothing on this album that will convert haters and nothing that hasn't already been explored by the band ad nauseam, however at this stage in the DT game, it's all about crafting an album that is actually compelling to experience through the band's tendency to release sprawling albums that defy current attention spans. This one is over 70 minutes long! It's really hard to say why one album works for me and others don't but i am quite surprised that this one keeps me engaged for the entire run! This really does bring me back to the era of "Awake" when the band was firing on all pistons. Somehow the pandemic produced a silver lining and some of the classic bands have had the time to reevaluate and reflect on where they once were and where they have drifted. Whatever the case, this is one of the best DT albums for my ears in a loooooooooong time.

Review by Necrotica
4 stars Dream Theater in 2021. What exactly would you expect at this point from a new release by the progressive metal veterans? With the exception of the odd experiment here and there (such as the ill-advised The Astonishing), the band's tried-and-true formula doesn't really get shaken up these days. In fact, their previous album Distance Over Time was one of the safest releases they'd put out in quite a long time; perhaps the more conservative approach was meant to balance out the ambitiousness of a two-hour-long rock opera, but that didn't really change how predictable its songwriting was. So with that in mind, it was hard to have any serious expectations for A View from the Top of the World, even with the prospect of a 20-minute epic to cap it off. But while it doesn't reinvent the wheel in any major way, it does happen to be the band's best record in a decade.

Really, the album title and cover art say it all. Dream Theater don't have anything else to prove from the vantage point of being one of progressive metal's foremost legacy acts, so A View from the Top of the World comes off more as a band writing and playing for the sake of enjoying their craft. Songs like the highly technical barnburner "The Alien" or the off-time chugging of "Answering the Call" aren't doing anything new per se, but the quality lies in how these old ideas are being presented here. Despite the song lengths being pretty long as usual, the more wank- driven bits are surprisingly lean and controlled - solos generally don't last over two minutes, and while they're still pretty masturbatory as one would expect, they're also pretty tasteful compared to a lot of Dream Theater's modern output. "Invisible Monster" is a perfect representation of this, with John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess' guitar and keyboard parts interlocking with each other to form some really neat harmonies.

Of course, the band do get more adventurous and crazy during the two epic pieces, "Sleeping Giant" and the mammoth title track. The former features some excellent symphonic bits from Rudess' keyboard parts, as well as some SHOCKINGLY strong singing from James LaBrie. In fact, this album is the best he's sounded in a long time; he doesn't try to stretch himself too much vocally on the record, and I think that's to his benefit. In short, he simply sounds more comfortable here than he has on previous albums. As always, the rest of the band show off their technical acumen very nicely on "Sleeping Giant" with shred solos and off-time licks, with the honky tonk piano of Rudess' solo being a particularly fun highlight. The title track, meanwhile, goes through about as many twists and turns as you'd imagine from a modern Dream Theater epic. It mostly relies on a flurry of technical riffs and solos, but I have to give a nod to the beautiful midsection; the drums drop out, and all that can be heard is Petrucci's clean guitar ringing out before the rest of the band eventually enters back in. Great stuff, and it plays like a leaner version of the symphonic break in "Illumination Theory" from the band's self-titled effort.

The only drawback to all of this is what I've already mentioned: a lot of what's found on A View from the Top of the World is what you would expect from Dream Theater, even if it's executed very well. The only true surprise on the record is the fantastic power-ballad "Transcending Time", which sounds like it could have been pulled straight out of one of the band's 90s albums. It's incredibly emotional and uplifting, giving off similar vibes to "The Looking Glass" but not wearing its influences on its sleeve like that song did. But could there have been more songs like that on the record? Sure, and it would have been nice to hear, but maybe that'd be asking too much of the band. A View from the Top of the World is an incredibly solid album that brings out the best qualities in Dream Theater's current incarnation; it's predictable, yes, but you'll most likely still enjoy it if you keep that caveat in mind. This is the best the band have sounded in a long time, and certainly the best this lineup has sounded; let's just hope they can keep this trajectory going for future records.

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
3 stars US progressive metal legends Dream Theater's fifteenth studio album is a rampant collection of seven new songs spanning across an hour and a half of playtime. 'A View from the Top of the World' is the last studio album with drummer Mike Mangini, who has now spent more than a decade with the band upon his departure. This record has been entirely recorded at the band's HQ in Long Island, and features lyrical compositions from LaBrie and Myung, apart from the usual predominant lyricist over the last couple of albums, John Petrucci. This time the band decide to go full power into the classic prog metal sound that they are more traditionally associated with.

Now, as is the case with most of the more recent releases by the band, where we could include the self-titled 2013 album, or the 2019 release titled 'Distance over Time', this could be a fascinating introduction to the band for someone who has just discovered them, as they would be amazed by the technicality mixed with the melodrama and the overall intensity of the music of the band. Then comes the reception of the fans and the critics who are well familiar with the back catalogue of the band, which would react more neutrally, declaring this album a great addition to the catalogue, but nothing too inventive or progressive nonetheless. And this is precisely what AVFTTOTW is, a great celebration of what Dream Theater do best.

Here, we can see them returning to the long form composition in the face of the 20-minute long title track, a great epic, not as monumental as something like 'Illumination Theory' from 2013 but still very solid and representative of the band's prog metal prowess. Other great tracks include the stomping 'Sleeping Giant' or the more flamboyant 'Awaken the Master'. 'Answering the Call' is another great song that almost hits the ten-minute mark, but generally, there are no weak entries on this album. Fantastic way for Mangini to say goodbye to the Dream Theater family.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "A View From the Top of the World" is the 15th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Dream Theater. The album was released through InsideOut Music in October 2021. Itīs the successor to "Distance Over Time" from February 2019. Most of the bandīs touring plans for "Distance Over Time" (2019) were cancelled as a consequence of the COVID-19 lockdown and travelling restrictions, and therefore the band opted to start writing and recording a new album a bit sooner than they normally would. "A View From the Top of the World" is the first Dream Theater album recorded at the bandīs newly constructed DTHQ (Dream Theater Headquarters). A combined live recording studio, rehearsal space, control room, and equipment storage in New York. The four instrumentalists in the band worked on the new material together at DTHQ with lead vocalist James LaBrie contributing to the songwriting through Zoom from his Canada home. LaBrie flew to New York in March 2021 to record his vocal tracks.

Stylistically "A View From the Top of the World" is unmistakably and through and through the sound of Dream Theater and if youīre familiar with the bandīs preceding releases, "A View From the Top of the World" is not an album featuring many surprises. Itīs technically well played (often virtuosic) progressive metal with a powerful and creative rhythm section, keyboard- and guitar wizardry of various kinds (heavy riffs, fast-riffs, keyboard/guitar solos and harmonies, and all sorts of keyboard/synth sounds), and LaBrieīs distinct sounding voice and melodic delivery in front. Everything is delivered with great skill and the album features high class performances by all involved. While the bandīs incredible skillset shouldnīt be ignored, weīve come to expect high level musical performances from them, so although itīs maybe a bit unfair, my jaw doesnīt drop as often as it used to when listning to a new Dream Theater release.

"A View From the Top of the World" features 7 tracks and a total playing time of 70:19 minutes, which is a considerably longer playing time than the 56:57 minutes that "Distance Over Time" (2019) lasted. While the musical styles of the two albums are pretty similar, "A View From the Top of the World" generally features more longer tracks than the predecessor, including the 20:24 minutes long closing title track. The title track is among the highlights of the album, but most of the material are the sound of Dream Theater playing it safe. The only standout track where they try something a little different and unexpected is "Transcending Time", which sounds like a track Rush wrote but left off "Hemispheres" (1978). The dominant synths are a nice touch on that one, and Mike Mangini also gets to shine a bit on the drums.

The album features a detailed, powerful, and well sounding production. Guitarist John Petrucci is credited as producer and Andy Sneap (Nevermore, Kreator, Accept, Judas Priest...etc.) is responsible for the mastering and the mixing of the album. Upon conclusion "A View From the Top of the World" is yet another high quality progressive metal release by Dream Theater, and their rights to the progressive metal throne are still not contested, but to my ears itīs all getting a bit too predictable and safe, and while I donīt hope for a new "The Astonishing (2016)", it would still be great to soon hear them try something a bit different. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Review by Warthur
4 stars The latest Dream Theater album feels a little like business as usual - but unlike their self-titled album, it's a "business as usual" that the band are comfortable with, rather than one they seem tired of. This late in their career, it's perhaps a bit much to expect Dream Theater to reinvent the wheel any time soon; their last attempt to really change their approach was The Astonishing, which can perhaps most charitably be described as well-meaning folly; by comparison, Distance Over Time was a bit of a return of the old Dream Theater, refreshed after that departure.

A View From the Top of the World feels like more of the same, with perhaps more flashes of a sunnier, brighter, optimisitc side of the band's music which has been a feature since at least as far back as Images and Words, but has often flown under the radar (especially when they've been in their darker moods). It's a gradual evolution, not a revolution, but I think it's pretty solid for that.

Review by Hector Enrique
3 stars It seems that Dream Theater can't get out of their own web, the one they built so carefully over time, referencing themselves and repeating the formula several albums ago. The virtuosity they display seems to be the end in itself, rather than the means to transmit a proposal that can be sustained as its own entity. And it is like this, that since "A Train of Thought" of the very distant 2003, almost as if songs could be interchanged between albums and they would probably fit, beyond some obvious production nuances particular to each work.

And that is also the feeling transmitted by "A View from the Top of the World", an album that maintains the scheme of the sublime and machine-gunned guitars of John Petrucci, the overstimulated keyboards of Jordan Rudess, and the stubborn percussion of Mike Mangini. pacing, all at the speed of light.

But still, it's not a disposable album. In fact, any group in the genre would surely be very satisfied if they ever managed to generate a work like this. Only in the case of Dream Theater, this path has already been traveled back and forth several times. And I think something more can be expected from them, because of their unquestionable quality as musicians, and because they started the path of prog metal precisely by taking elements from different styles to create something different and innovative.

What could we highlight? Well, basically the festive "Transcending Time" and its airs of eighties Rush; the choruses, short but well achieved, of "Sleeping Giant"; and the delicate and deep middle section of the excessive suite that gives the album its title.

Dream Theater continues to be the standard bearer of the genre, without a doubt, but it would be nice to get out of the box to surprise us with something more transgressive from time to time. We are waiting.

3 stars

Latest members reviews

3 stars Well, it's been two years. Time for a new Dream Theater album. A View from the Top of the World is the too-many-th release from these prog metal stalwarts. After the passable but unremarkable Distance over Time, I wasn't really expecting much from these guys. Then again, I didn't get into them until ... (read more)

Report this review (#2904535) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Dream Theater is a band I have a love-hate relationship with. While many people fell off the excitement train a long time ago, I've still maintained some respect for the band, particularly enjoying Distance Over Time and its restrained tendencies. As well as Dramatic Turn of Events which while b ... (read more)

Report this review (#2632431) | Posted by dougmcauliffe | Tuesday, November 9, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Before writing this review I made sure to listen to the album times so I could truly understand the album. After many listens I have come to the conclusion that this album is one of the best albums they have made for in over a decade. From the first song "The Alien" to the last song "A View From Top ... (read more)

Report this review (#2632148) | Posted by VanDerProg | Tuesday, November 9, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have already mentioned that one of the few advantages of these turbulent times is the fact that most bands that have been banned from performing do not laze and sit in the studio, writing new material, which they will then present to us live, and we all hope that the future the year will reall ... (read more)

Report this review (#2632082) | Posted by DavidoMulti3107 | Tuesday, November 9, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is definitely among the top DT albums: Images and Words, Awake, Scenes From A Memory & Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence. The A View from the Top of the World is an album of songs - of real songs - with chops! Great melodies and beautiful choruses! With lyrical moments too. It's groovy, it's heav ... (read more)

Report this review (#2631949) | Posted by natjsbelza | Monday, November 8, 2021 | Review Permanlink

1 stars ? It tastes bad to say, but this latest CD from Dream Theater doesn't tell me anything at all. From the outset it was already making it difficult for me to digest the rhythm of their editions, but in this one, they have already reached a limit for me. The tired troc-trocotoc-trocotomp, troc-trocotoc ... (read more)

Report this review (#2631865) | Posted by Xavier Medina | Sunday, November 7, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars DREAM THEATER, 100 years I waited to review one, my prog metal masters; how am I going to stay neutral, listening and telling you of course. DREAM THEATER is the discovery in 1992 of one of the best albums, it is the realization at the end of the year of this 15th thanks also to the DTHQ which a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2631500) | Posted by alainPP | Saturday, November 6, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Dream Theater was the band that introduced me to progressive metal and rock around 25 years ago. It was my favorite band thanks to Images and Words, Awake, Metropolis Pt 2. Even I enjoyed Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and Train of Thought a lot because they tried to do something different than ... (read more)

Report this review (#2629600) | Posted by danielxv | Monday, November 1, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Was surprised by how good this album is. It may be my favourite album they've released since octavarium, and their best since mangini joined IMO. The mix is really good on this album. You can clearly hear mangini and myung, and it seems they let mangini have a little more creative freedom this time ... (read more)

Report this review (#2608720) | Posted by greenbackz | Friday, October 29, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Dream Theater hit & missed with this one. Despite the excellent production, clever arrangements, and well-known virtuosity, this is just a collection of the the same recycled movements & musical themes since 2010. Absolutely nothing new, nothing magical or - at least - a solid piece of prog; nothing ... (read more)

Report this review (#2608597) | Posted by saureign | Thursday, October 28, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A very nice surprise! A View From the Top of the World, doesn't offer much new sonically, but the songs itselves are very strong, complex and rich. This demanded multiple listens for me to start appreciating more each song, as it happenend in the past when their released their singles " ... (read more)

Report this review (#2606970) | Posted by Deadwing | Saturday, October 23, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I'm mainly writing this review as a counterpoint to all the baffling praise that's being heaped on this album. The number of five-star reviews came as a big surprise to me after checking in here to hear/read other people's opinions. THIS is what many of you consider to be a five (or even four) star ... (read more)

Report this review (#2606967) | Posted by Revelation_Space | Saturday, October 23, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Dream Theater has really amazed me with their 15th studio album 'A View From Top of the World'. This album consists of an immense amount of incredible melodies. The musicianship here is also top notch. The guitar playing by John Petrucci is out of this world along with Mike Mangini's drumming an ... (read more)

Report this review (#2606380) | Posted by ProgDrivenFar | Friday, October 22, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Brilliant album. Sure, it's more of the same, but it's some of the best "same" they have ever released. Every song is very solid and there's no weak tracks. The Alien is an amazing all-rounder with some great progressive metal pyrotechnics. Answering The Call is a classic-sounding album that's very ... (read more)

Report this review (#2606189) | Posted by Isaac Peretz | Thursday, October 21, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The title says it all. Dream Theater are a band that were once at the top, not only of progressive metal, but of metal in general. It's clear that a band as innovative is going to find it difficult to innovate after thirty three years of music, which is why Dream Theater doesn't try to innovate anym ... (read more)

Report this review (#2605858) | Posted by Ian McGregor | Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Dream Theater - A View From The Top Of The World Their best album since Train Of Thought? There's honestly nothing better than watching one of your favorite bands have a late-term shining moment. Even after Mangini joined back in 2010, you could tell the band was seriously running out of ideas, b ... (read more)

Report this review (#2605856) | Posted by Maw The Void | Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well, it's finally here. And it's definitely an amazing Dream Theater album. To be fair, at this point I just wish they could play something different rather than playing the same prog metal they've been playing since Octavarium. This record's great though, probably their best with Mangini. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2603576) | Posted by Gorgut Muncher | Thursday, October 14, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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