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Dream Theater - Awake CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.12 | 2061 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Awake is the third album by Prog-metal leading lights Dream Theater following on from the extremely successful Images and Words. This album is notable for being the final album to feature Kevin Moore on keyboards, who departed immediately after the recording of this album.

The overall impression of Awake is that it has a considerably darker atmosphere from the rather upbeat Images and Words, indeed loss and despair seems to be a common theme throughout the entire album. Its also a slightly patchy album for Dream Theater, indeed this recording has some of the bands best work, both lyrically and musically, as well as some of their worst songs.

Unfortunately, one of the major problems on this album is James LaBrie's vocals, it's here that he started that high pitched wailing that he would tend to use too much until the recording of Scenes From a Memory. Where I can see that the occasional use of this wouldn't be a problem and just another form of expression, here its over done far to much, far to often. The one song that he ruins most this way is Innocence Faded. The third song, Innocence Faded, is a dull song by there standards, and also very much out of place on an album that contains a mostly doom-and-gloom atmosphere, with the music just being to cheerful, plus the aforementioned caterwauling from LaBrie. The album also closes on a low note with Space Dye Vest, a piano led song of Kevin Moore's that is reminiscent of Wait For Sleep from the previous album. Its basically a good song that fits into the album well but its just a bit too long at seven minutes and I start to loose interest in it.

Now that I've moaned about the albums short falls, what's right about it? Well, plenty. As I said earlier, this album contains some of DT's most accomplished songs, most notably The Mirror which segues into the equally impressive Lie. These are two songs that are characterized by a powerful, driving bass line by John Myung, sharp and raucous yet intricate and even flowing guitars by John Petrucci, expressive drumming from Mike Portnoy that allows the rest of the to band perform to their best and deep, dark atmospheric sounds as well as the occasional burst of brilliance from Kevin Moore. The big surprise with these two songs is that LaBrie's vocals is possibly the best he has ever produced, and on Lie in particular the range and diversity he uses is really impressive.

A Mind Beside Itself is the other big highlight of this album, comprised of three tracks (Erotomania, Voices and The Silent Man) it includes one of DT's characteristically impressive instrumental's, Erotomania, as well as the first of the epics, Voices, which is packed with emotion, expressed both through their playing and through the way that LaBrie sings. The Silent Man is a bit of a let down afterwards but does have the novelty of being one of the few acoustic songs performed by DT. The remaining three songs, 6:00, Scarred and Lifting Shadows of a Dream, are good songs but lack the killer edge that some songs have on this album.

Overall this is a slightly patchy album, but the good really does outshine the bad here. Sadly the fact that there is so many flaws leaves the impression that the album is just a bit two long and could have done with a couple of songs being cut, preferably Caught in a Web and Innocence Faded, while having Space Dye Vest shortened slightly. A good album but no masterpiece, 4 stars.

sleeper | 4/5 |


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