1. Untethered Angel
3. Fall Into The Light
4. Barstool Warrior
5. Room 137
7. At Wit’s End
8. Out Of Reach
9. Pale Blue Dot
10. Viper King (Bonus Track)
At times guitarist John Petrucci’s shredding on this record is so insanely, implausibly fast that it recalls the sound cassette tapes made when they jammed and became spaghetti.
These Berklee College Of Music drop-outs will forever be labelled prog-metal, but at heart this album is metal with just the occasional hint of prog. Like Muse after excessive espressos, they plant a bomb under bombast.
The band moved into an upstate New York barn (which, luckily, is also a state-of-the-art studio) where, for the first time in their 33-year history, they lived together while recording. Their claim that this enhanced their energy and enjoyment is supported by the direct, headsdown avalanche of aggression on the record.
Drummer Mike Mangini seems intent on proving that Mike Portnoy isn’t missed, while James LaBrie sings in one of those so-clean-it’s-dirty AOR voices.
There are brief pit-stops for pensiveness on the whirling Room 137 and the baroque Barstool Warrior, but the dominant thread is superior thrash.