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Dream Theater - Awake CD (album) cover

AWAKE

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

4.12 | 2069 ratings

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mangoo
5 stars Awake is probably the thoughest Dream Theater's release to date. This album apparently attached to the band a superficial label of coldness, useless technicality and lack of emotivity. Such criticism is far from getting the point. I personally realize that it is indeed the overall aim of the album to express feelings of coldness, isolation, sadness and distance, which have a fundamentally emotional ground. The aim is achieved through the build up of compositions of mainly dark atmosphere and multilayered structure, featuring very tight technical performances by such proficient players. While technical proficiency is still today one of DT's trademark, this album signs the pinnacle of the compositional complexity in DT's musical production so far - equalled only in A change of seasons (from the homonimous EP) and Six degrees of inner turbulence (from the homonimous album). Anyway, the band appears to have considered such criticisms - or received pressure from their label in this direction - and tended to soften the tension builded in the present opus in their later offerings, even including pop influences. Drum work by Portnoy and guitar work by Petrucci are impressive and duly outlined in the production, though obscuring in this respect the as though bass performance by Myung. Moore plays more in the background, adding a few solos but mainly dedicating to sustaining haunting sound atmospheres. Also, Space-dye vest signs his last contribution to the band before leaving for his solo career. Themes and patterns played by each instrument are distinct, very well structured, never trivial and often exchanging role - e.g. the bass introduces a theme which is later played by guitar and underlined by drums (as in 6:00, Erotomania, Voices), or a guitar theme is further prolonged by bass - and this adds to the levels of complexity and multilayered structuring said above. Notably, Petrucci often superimposes several independent guitar tracks, often in a counterpointal relation (e.g. in Erotomania, 6:00 and the triple guitar solo in the final section of Innocence faded). Odd time signatures and sudden tempo change are a pleasant constant. Particularly, The mirror is based on metronomic modulations of a simple guitar riff, while Erotomania features the conjunction of many odd signatures. Harmonically, the album is very rich, chord choices and successions are far reaching, well considered and far from standard, the overall feeling is dark but solid, sometime oppressive but always haunting. The bulk of the album is heavy with only few moments of pause (as in The silent man, Lifting shadows off a dream and Space-dye vest).

Overall, a very solid album which deserves attention by the listener for the implicit amount of details and subtleties. A very good work, which definitely pointed to Dream Theater as masters of progressive metal.

mangoo | 5/5 |

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