Spin #62 : Dream Theater : A View From The Top Of The World
SUNDAY DROP - SPIN #62
I've been going on a bit of a rabbit hole lately with some bands and one of them would be Dream Theater (thanks to my wife for getting me into them). I managed to find for her the very rare and sought after vinyl copy of 'The Astonishing', which consists of over 30+ songs and acts as a Broadway style experience. It was the first album she showed me on CD, so when the chance to purchase it came up, I couldn't resist. However, today we will be delving into their latest album called, 'A View From The Top Of The World'. They've gone for quality over quantity on this album and feel that it was met with mostly praise. You will never please every fan with each album, but there is so much here to like.
For this review, I've chosen the front room set-up because I hear its going to rain from tomorrow onwards and I want to make the most of the sun. Plus our children are building cubby houses in the front room out of every piece of furniture they can find. I have to just accept that whilst they are playing, the room is going to be messy because they are having fun. I know that it won't always be this way and one day Night Kat Kiz and I will miss the chaos.
The front room equipment is a lot higher up now from the reaching hands of children and I can spin our Marshall Woburn II speaker to face the rest of the room, where our listening chairs are. I seem to have fixed that annoying problem where the speaker was cutting in and out with a Bluetooth connection too. If you haven't been following us then our set-up consists of the Audio Technica (AT-LP60XBT) turntable, which is a pretty good budget choice if you don't want the ability to adjust the tonearm weight. Our speaker is the Marshall Woburn II and seems to have enough range to get the best out of vinyl. It loves to be turned up loud so this album will be a good test.
ALBUMS OF NOTE IN (2021): Blue Weekend - Wolf Alice, 30 - Adele, Sour - Olivia Rodrigo, Senjutsu - Iron Maiden, Eternal Blue - Spirit Box, Deceiver - Khemmis, Nowhere Generation - Rise Against, Echo - Of Mice & Men, Fortitude - Gojira, Typhoons - Royal Blood, Valentine - Snail Mail, Barn - Neil Young, This Place Will Become Your Tomb - Sleep Token.
Image : John Petrucci (guitars, production), Mike Mangini (drums), James LaBrie (vocals), John Myung (bass) and Jordan Rudess (keyboards)
If you managed to score yourself a copy of this album, make sure to place LP 1 on the turntable and listen along. The tonearm is lowering down onto the outside groove and it's time to .............
Something different that I picked up on whilst looking at the LP label was the different name for Side A or one. Dream Theater have changed it to View One to match the theme and title of the album. It's those little things that make this one of the best packaged and produced albums in our collection. This was the same for our copy of 'Distance Over Time' (I highly recommend if you enjoy this one). I remember first playing this one and the sounds of 'THE ALIEN' started pulsating from the Marshall speaker. I looked at our son and daughter and they were instantly in a moshpit the size of a small invisible phone booth. It was so cute to see them smiling and bouncing along to the beat. Our daughter even managed to sit on the footstool and use her hands to air drum along to the beat before our son copied my face and the chugging guitar riff. Another thing that makes this album so exciting is the included lyric booklet, so I can follow along and get a better connection to the songs. The heaviness within the beginning of this lead off song makes way for anthemic style vocals and instrumentation.
Lately, I have been making sure that I don't put things off until tomorrow and achieve all that I can each day. I want our children to live in the moment each day (which kids do anyway) but maybe make it rub off on Night Kat Kiz and I too. Our son (K) recently started karate because we feel it will help him build his focus and have a bit of fun each week. I remember doing karate when I was younger and watching him brings back a lot of good memories for me. He received 'Ninja star of the week' this week and you should have seen how proud he was of himself. I think that will make him really excited for next week.
I like the interlude sections and solos on 'THE ALIEN' as they are so different to other rock and metal bands - definitely owning their mantle of progressive metal legends. John Petrucci looks like he should be on the show, 'Alaskan Bush People' with that beard but takes you on a hypnotising journey with each solo he plays. I get a mix of Avenged Sevenfold and Iron Maiden styles when I listen to some of this album. Let me know in the comments below what you think.
Second song on the album is called, 'ANSWERING THE CALL' and it starts off with Mike Mangini providing the beat nicely on his drum kit. Each track so far brings us gently into the track before the vocals of LaBrie begin. I like it when he sings, "when will there be a day when all of us trust that love and peace burns bright for us?". I was able to show our son how to hold and kick a footy today at the fields and he had a few really good kicks. We tried going the other day but it was so windy that we were worried he'd make his wind burnt lips worse. He was so sad and didn't understand we were looking out for him. As I'm listening along, there are some guitar riffs that sound inspired by Iommi from Black Sabbath and Dream Theater do a great job at making them their own. Really enjoying the solo guitar work as I mentioned before. The stylus is moving towards the dead wax and its time to flip LP1 over for View Two. Our children are running around right now laughing their little heads off and I can barely hear the music over the yelling. They are definitely partners in crime and can see their tremendous amount of growth each week.
I press the start button and watch as the stylus drops into the groove of the song called, 'INVISIBLE MONSTER'. This was a single released from the album that talks about the monster within and trying to deal with that on a daily basis. I really like the chord progression on this song and understand why it was released as a single. Our son (K) made a monster truck using the inflatable mattress, cushions and blankets in the loungeroom today and love his imagination. It will be tough when I'm working away from home to not be with them each day but I'm doing this so that I can keep giving them a good life and bright future. I've stumbled across another band lately that I find very intriguing called Sleep Token. They come from Britain and use masks to hide their identities. They look completely different to what they sound like and definitely more like a monster that might be hiding under your bed or in your closet. Give them a look online whilst listening along to this album.
Woke up a bit sore today from moving heavy items yesterday and could have been described as a 'SLEEPING GIANT' if I had my way. But trying to get the most out of the day and keep moving forward as this catchy riff leads off some intricate keys by Rudess. It is a song just over 10 minutes and tells a story of what you might do once you defeat that monster within. It also discusses what happens if you give up that fight and let darkness win. Probably one of the better choruses, "Shadows disappear at night, buried out of fear, driven underground. Hidden lies the rage inside, like a ticking bomb that doesn't make a sound". I know that upon first listen, this was one that I really liked. It sounds like the song is winding down around the 6 minute mark until it picks up the pace again and gets us all tapping along. There is almost a salsa-circus-Transylvanian riff going on around the 7 minute mark that is very unique. Go get yourself a drink and take a toilet break as I place LP1 back into its poly sleeve and put LP2 onto the turntable.
View Three is ready to start and the sounds of 'TRANSCENDING TIME' start flowing through the Marshall Woburn II speaker. There is a Woburn III speaker coming out now so maybe there will be a sale on the old speaker and I'll be able to add left and right sound to the front room. Excited for what the next couple of weeks will bring for our little family and the start of this song is very upbeat and positive. Very similar in parts to tracks from the latest Ghost album musically and that isn't a bad thing at all. They are both different and good in their own right but this song does sound very different to the rest of 'A View From The Top Of The World'. The keys being played by Rudess towards the final minutes feel like they are building up this listener to get ready for what lies ahead.
Our daughter (Q) was dressed today in her beanie and pastel coloured outfits, looking like a member from the Beastie Boys. We took them to a playground that from the outside looked very nice, until we got inside the fence. From there it was a safety nightmare, quite possibly put together by a drunk person. We had to leave because it gave us too much anxiety to watch them. Who puts a hole/drop off directly at the end of the slippery dip? Our children absolute loved running around but that won't be a playground that we will be returning too. Dream Theater have returned to that heavy chugging riff sound once again on next track, 'AWAKEN THE MASTER'. It has a catchy chorus of "Spinning through life, lost in the spiral of time. Turning the stone, circles of darkness and light. Remember hereafter". I like the meaning behind this song as it talks about finding a balance in your life and giving yourself the best opportunity to achieve. The bass of Myung on this one really adds to the heavy atmosphere that is being created. They are right, you need to be in charge of your life and if that isn't happening, then you need to awaken the master within.
Just when you thought they couldn't do much more to make this a great album, they go ahead and make a 20+minute song to round off View Four called, 'A VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE WORLD'. It is split up into three parts and starts off with Part 1. The Crowning Glory. You are rewarded for taking the time to listen to the album in its entirety and I think because of the length and layers involved, it would be my favourite track from the album but very difficult to choose. Somedays, I like View One more and at time of writing, I like View Four. Even though there are only 7 songs on this album it doesn't feel like it when you are listening along because of the track lengths. Lyrically a very motivating track and I recommend following along with the lyrics book or online if you can.
Part 2. Rapture Of The Deep, kicks off with that riffing and drum patterns that make the hips swing - well it does for our children anyway. I'm deciding whether to have a hot cup of tea as the wind whips up through the open window. Can't predict what the crazy weather is going to do - sun, rain, wind, overcast. The song slows right down eventually on this one and really makes you listen closely.
Part 3. The Driving Force gives me the "Ooo yeah" feeling. It has a creepy riff that sounds something Rob Zombie would include in one of his songs to kick off the last part of the last song. At the time of writing this is Dream Theaters latest album and who knows, could it be their last? The bass of Myung is absorbing when isolated and really adds to the atmosphere that Rudess provides. A bit like Judas Priest with their theatrical album, 'Nostradamus' (Check it out if you haven't had the opportunity). Part 3 would have to be my favourite part of this sprawling epic track and what better way to end their 15th studio album.
As always, thank you for your weekly support and we hope that you found some time to rest and relax this weekend. It's now time to recharge the batteries and get ready for another very big week ahead. If you enjoyed this week, make sure to come back next week for something a little more chilled out and close to home. I can't make any promises but I will try to keep this going each week. As I will be travelling a bit more, it may mess up our schedule but I will try my best.
"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses" - Alphonse Karr
Until our next Spin, be Kind to people who have Perspective and be Kind to your Wax!
SPEED PLAYED AT
DISTANCE OVER TIME (2019)
NIL AT THIS STAGE
OPETH - IN CAUDA VENENUM (2019)
A VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE WORLD
RATING OUT OF 5
5 - THE PACKAGING AND THE PRODUCTION IS FLAWLESS, LET ALONE THE QUALITY OF THE TRACKS
WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECORD SLEEVE
2 X BLACK LP WITH LABELS SAYING VIEW INSTEAD OF SIDE. CD OF THE ALBUM, BOOKLET WITH PHOTOGRAPHS AND LYRICS
"To stretch beyond our limits, to blaze a brand new trail. Bold enough to conquer, brave enough to fail. Sheer determination, taking nerves of steel. Always digging deeper, the danger all too real"~ A View From The Top Of The World (Part 1.The Crowning Glory) - View Four (Side D)
LP 1 / SIDE
ANSWERING THE CALL
LP 2 / SIDE C
AWAKEN THE MASTER
A VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE WORLD
DREAM THEATER performing live on stage