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Dream Theater - Awake CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.12 | 2069 ratings

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5 stars The combination of "Images and Words" as well as "Awake" is one of the best back- to-back album combinations of all time. Both embody the style of Dream Theater at its finest, and in my humble opinion even the masterpiece "Scenes from a Memory" does not top either of these. Awake is a very well-rounded album as far as musicianship goes. The album kicks off with two heavy tracks accompanied by powerful LaBrie vocals. "6:00" is a very nice track, featuring a very neat drum solo to kick things off. "6:00" is actually a pretty complex song with many moving background parts that take some concentration to really hear. Like many other tracks on "Awake", "6:00" features dialogue to sort of get the lyrical point across better. Very nice piece all around.

The next track, "Caught in a Web" is very similar to "6:00". The musical style does not shift at all from the heavy metal sound, but it does feature a bit more of a speed metal feel, especially the solo section in the middle. LaBrie gets up higher in his range on this song than on "6:00", and the standard Dream Theater sound takes more of a forefront. The only disappointing part about the song is that the ending is very abrupt.

"Innocence Faded" is definitely the biggest attempt at a commercial hit on the album. From the intro to the song, you can pretty much tell where this piece is going. However, LaBrie has a very nice vocal feature of sorts during the soft bridge of the song, showing off his range to everyone and really creating a special moment in the music as well. Near the end of the song there is also a solo section, but it is all Petrucci and is very drawn out and almost bland at times. This is probably the worst song on the album, but it is still one of my favorite Dream Theater works.

"Erotomania" is where the fun really begins musically. Gone is the style and mood created by the first three songs. "Erotomania" in my opinion is Dream Theater's "YYZ"; a masterpeice instrumental that really shows off both the talent and essence of the band. This track has some very nice points spread throughout. Petrucci has an amazing solo section near the end, and then the theme is repeated until the transition into the next track comes. "Erotomania" is definitely one of the biggest highlights of "Awake".

Entering with a smooth trasition from the very catchy "Erotomania", "Voices" starts off with a very powerful intro and then tones down into a emotional LaBrie passage accompanied by a simple piano line as well as abstract guitar noises. This style continues on for a little bit, and then the real bulk of the song hits, which is a powerful and sometimes heavy masterpiece. As if an implication from the title, James LaBrie's vocals are a stunning addition to this wonderful piece. This song is really quite the masterpiece, and up until now it is probably the best song discounting the instrumental.

"The Silent Man" is a great followup to "Voices" since so far the album has been Power! Power! Power! for the most part until now. "The Silent Man" could possibly by Dream Theater's softest work to date. An acoustic style is the theme here with the song kicking off with a very nice vocal and acoustic guitar duo. Portnoy eventually comes in with a maracca-styled shuffle that provides just enough build for this peaceful work. Moore accompanies with a nice background string synth, keeping the spotlight on Petrucci and LaBrie while providing some base for the song to use. This is truly a wonderful work, and while you might think "Dream Theater Unplugged? Ugh!", it actually sounds like a Dream Theater work through and through.

After ending "The Silent Man" with a very nice acoustic chord, Dream Theater once again grabs you by the throat by bringing in "The Mirror". Utter silence quickly turns into a short distorted fall followed by quite possibly the simplest, heaviest, repetitive, but coolest riff ever made. I can't really say much about this song but that it must be heard to be fully understood. Moore's great piano and synth melodies along with LaBrie's powerful vocals are really what transform this piece from a heavy metal riff-fest to a enjoyable work that is both powerful and eeire at the same time. This track is another highlight of the album.

The next track, "Lie" finally puts some spotlight back on Portnoy's great drumming. The drum parts used in this song really help set the tone, and the beat's presence is constantly engrained into your mind thanks to straight double bass throughout the verses. The song is very guitar and bass heavy, and LaBrie's voice is once again powerful to follow suit. The song is pretty much straightforward until the "The Mirror" reprise, which is then built upon with a very cool sounding solo section featuring Petrucci. Overall, Lie is a good track, but it is a little similar to the other works on the album.

Things get toned down again with "Lifting Shadows off a Dream". The style shift between "Lie" to "Lifting Shadows off a Dream" is about the same as "The Silent Man" to "The Mirror". "LSoaD" is a softer piece that has some nice muted distortion guitar and acoustic parts as well as some parts that bring out a little more groove. This is a very complete song as far as Dream Theater standards go, featuring many variations of style and intensity.

Throw out everything you've been reading about how good this album is so far, because "Scarred" wipes the floor with every previous track. This is by far the most musically cohesive work on the album. Everyone in the band just contributes a little something and when it all gets put together it is a masterpice. Clocking in at one second less than 11:00, this work is both musically and lyrically dynamic; the styles change so much and so quickly that you can easily become lost if you don't pay attention to it. I would be here all day if I tried to breakdown this entire work, but just take my work that it is truly an amazing work. This is definitely the song that will capture you the quickest, and once it does it never lets go.

The last song on the album, "Space-Dye Vest" is very interesting because it is Kevin Moore's swan song with the band. Written and composed entirely by Moore, this song is so emotional that you can almost feel yourself drifting away as you listen through it. The entire song focuses almost exclusively on Kevin's piano and James' soft vocals. The story of the work is revealed more through the spoken dialogue of various voices rather than the actual sung lyrics. If you hit play on this track and expect a good ol' Dream Theater sound, then you will be gravely disappointed. This is by far the most eerie song I have personally ever heard, and all of the abstract sound effects along with the constant tones of the piano just make a very soft and absorbing mood (if that makes sense). The song just pulls you in and makes it seem as if your entire life hangs in its balance. It is just that engrossing. This song has to be heard to be believed. Top-notch work by Moore. There is nothing else to say about this song but that it is the best song on the album. Scarred is a very worthy runner-up, but this thing just takes the cake. I just can't praise how good this track is enough.

Overall, Awake is a totally complete album without any real weak point. The entire album has a very dark feel to it, with of course "Space-Dye Vest" bringing that mood out the most. This is an essential masterpiece to any progressive music collection and even moreso to every Dream Theater fan.

KansasRushDream | 5/5 |


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