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Dream Theater - Awake CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.12 | 2061 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Brief: It's time to wake up... It's Dream Theater!

Well, it's obvious that I'm starting my reviews with incredibly lame comments, but in this case it's true: I have written so many 2 and 1-start reviews lately that I think it's time to write something about The Dream. After I finish with this, only OCTAVARIUM, TRAIN OF THOUGHT and SCENES FROM A MEMORY will remain unreviewed by me, which is the same as to say "unreviewed by DT's most critical objector". (Insert a blinking face here). No, that's unfair. I know when my boys do something wrong (cough!**The Glass Prison**cough!) or when they write lame songs (did anyone mention "take Away my Pain"?) or when they make bad decisions (recording their best song ever in the same EP as a series of useless live covers?). So, as usual, let's bring fairness to the table and judge AWAKE for what it truly is:

...well, sorry. Another masterpiece.

Actually, if it was posible I would really give this album only 4.75 stars or even 4.5. that's mainly because of four reasons:

1. Coming after ultra-masterpiece and my third favorite album of all time IMAGES AND WORDS it was really hard for any album to measure up. Somehow DT managed to at least reach the very next stair down from that, if not the same exact one. 2. James La Brie's singing: as I mentioned again and again in reviews and in the forum, I'm one of the biggest fans of Mr. Canadian's style of singing. For me he's the perfect vocalist for the New York outfit. but even Maese LaBrie had a moment of weakness, and it arrived in some parts of AWAKE: when he tries to "yell", to sing overly "metallic", his throat sort of gives up and all we hear is a awkward shriek. It doesn't happen too often in the album, but it happens, and that's something I could never say about any other DT release. (Especially after listening him singing "Under a Glass Moon" live in SCORE, I know that was just a bad moment for James, he IS capable of hitting the high notes even in front of a large audience).

3. Again, this has more to do with comparing this release with the preceding history-making one. AWAKE is more metallic, less "progressive" in that there's less long songs, and most of them have a rather normal structure. There are also less soaring solos and blazing rhythms. But that's just a change of style. Once you adapt and understand you won't be hearing to IMAGES AND WORDS II, you will be fine and love AWAKE for what it is.

4. Kevin Moore's lesser contribution and importance in the final mix. In I&W the keyboards were everywhere, a prominent part of the overall picture, whereas in AWAKE the keys sort of get lost in the mix and their contribution to the actual main riffs and section of songs is less evident. It was not a shock when we learned this was Morre's last album with the band.

6:00 (8/10) , after a great drum intro by Portnoy, the songs gets on a groovy, fast tempo with much instrumental value but no great melodies or solos. Good song but nothing magnificent.

Caught in a Web (9/10) Now we start to talk! Not in the same caliber of other masterpieces, but a good song nevertheless. In this one LaBrie's performance is just decent, but on the other hand Moore's is impecable. Good chorus. Innocence Faded (9.5/10) We're getting closer to magnificence here. A very melodic, uplifting track where, curiously, LaBrie renders a fantastic singing performance. The middle part reminds me of Rush-meets-I&W. Great.

Erotomania (9.75/10), an instrumental of great coherence and cohesiveness, this starts the series "A Mind Beside Itself". I have special fond memories of this song as it appeared in a instructional-VHS tape made by Portnoy that I bought to improve my playing. A great piece with variety. It lakcs emotion, but that is solved when we hear the series from beginning to end.

Voices (10/10), masterpiece, superb. After "Erotomania" fades out, it blends perfectly into the odd time signature of the main riff in this song which contains another one of Maestro Petrucci's greatest and most melodic solos ever. Terrific. desperation, melody, heart, feelings. That's what this anthem is about. As opposed to the long songs in IMAGES, this song's structure is rather common, just enlarged. At the end, it blends in with the next track.

The Silent Man (9.5/10), as a stand-alone song is nothing to write home about, just a little mellow acoustic track with another superb performance by LaBrie (when he's not in "metal mood" he sings as always, amazing). But if you listen to it in the right context, after "Erotomania" and "Voices", it works perfectly.

The Mirror (10/10) An outstanding track with a heavy heavy riff and some beautiful if maybe too-far-in-the-mix keyboard work by Moore. This is a pure metallic song with progressive elements, but this one perfectly crafted. The melody at the end will return later as the most sad of all say-goodbye-songs in this album final track.

Lie (7.5/10) this one had a video shoot for it. Ironically, is the weakest song in the album. Simple metal with almost no progressive elements, if maybe with the exception, of course, of musicianship of the highest level by the 5 virtuose at play here. Wait, by four of them, because this is not one of LaBrie's shiniest moments; wait, only by three of them, because we have to guess in order to realize Moore is playing here.

Lifting Shadows Off a Dream (9/10) a great melodic track with good performance by Moore and the rest of the band. The chorus is too-mellow at times for me, but nothing that ultimately damages the song. Scarred (10/10), after a classy, elegant, bass-guitar-and-ride-cymbal-only beginning, LaBrie sings with care, with caution, as if coming from behind trying to awaken us from an illusion. The second section is metallic with great power by the guitar and the keys, then a pre-chorus of question, of doubt, and finally a chorus of re-assurance. Listen: this song has so many sections, all perfectly united to create one song. Other bands have songs with two sections, others play the same three notes for minute after minute over and over again. I prefer music with variety. I prefer something like this.

Space-Dye Vest (10/10). Kevin Moore's last song with Dream Theater, such a beautiful track as the prog-metal and prog and rock world in general has very seldom heard. It's so sad, we could actually cry for whatever reason we could choose: for love, for desperation, for any other cause. When we learned this master of the keys was leaving, we understood what should the tears be about. Fantastic melody. Incredible space atmosphere. Magnificent end to a very productive, if too short, musical relationship.

All in all, a fantastic album, not up to the level of IMAGES AND WORDS, but then again, very few albums are. A 4.5 stars, in my book, is rounded up to 5. And 5 I give to AWAKE.

Recommended for: Dream Theater fans, Prog-Metal fans, Prog-fans, rock-fans, san juanito fans, MUSIC fans.

Not recommended for: People who don't like anything metal-related. And die-hard fans of Kevin Moore who can't take Dream Theater without him. Why? Because after you listen to "Space Dye Vest", you'll miss him even more.

I don't. We lost him, we got Rudess. Now what's to suffer for?

The T | 5/5 |


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