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5 stars An exceptional album! This is their album where in John Petrucci & Mike Portnoy showed their virtuosity. From Mike's over the top playing to John outstanding riffs & solos. A well rounded album with lots of great odd time signatures like the songs Erotomania, Voices & Scarred. Another great album from DT and this is in my Top Ten Prog Albums. Carpe Diem
Report this review (#11397)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars The best record of dream theater, without a doubt, is the best crafted, and best played of them all, some may complain about it, but you must face the truth that this is the darkest album and most accurate exposure of the band, the hand of moore in textures, the clean play of petrucci, the odd drumming of portnoy, the outstanding sharpness of myung and the clean voice of Labrie, makes this a must have in any record collection.
Report this review (#11398)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I like this one specially cos its a bit dark. Lots of personal favourites on this one. The album is well-balanced too. You have the metal of The Mirror and Lie, relaxing songs (Silent man, Space dyevest, Lifting shadows), and epical pieces (Scarred, Voices). a perfect album
Report this review (#11400)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A great album for a great band. "A mind beside itself" could explain what I'm saying. The heavy guitars of "Lie" and "The Mirror" can make me kick any ass on the street, while "Voices" and "The Silent Man" can make me cry like a child. Lift the shadows off your dreams listening to this masterpiece (like all DT albums).
Report this review (#11407)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
The Prognaut
4 stars A splendid well orchestrated piece. It certainly refers us to that stage of growth and ripeness the band went through before submerging entirely in the depths of prog waters. "Awake" is purely metal and clearly influenced by band members' all time favorite rockers, specially from Mr. PORTNOY that has openly confessed to have plenty more musical roots and influences besides prog rockers. In the beginning I sort of had my doubts about this very recording because nonetheless I had already listened to DREAM THEATER and already purchased "Images and Words", this sounded nothing like that band I recently discovered and it actually surprised me. Firstly, I noticed that "Awake" was merely composed and arranged by the band itself, it had nothing peculiar such as covers or experimental jammings, it was all about DREAM THEATER. I even recognize and applaud the devotion and the self-committed spirit Mr. Kevin MOORE put into the project to pull it off and give the world a brand new DREAM THEATER. Guitar performing by John PETRUCCI: simply outstanding! it just can't get better than this. The arrangements I appreciated to be more complete and impeccably mastered, were those put into "The Mirror". Great song, punchy, hard and moody. I also think of "Lie" and "Erotomania" as the two rocks supporting this great labored album. Mike PORTNOY's gesture to dedicate the album to the memory of his biggest inspiration recently deceased at that time, Frank ZAPPA; was unarguably something admirable. So, my last words: an important transitional point for the band to cross the line of the stereotyping to concrete its permanence in prog rock once and for all. Definitely, a must.
Report this review (#11422)
Posted Sunday, June 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I think it was 1995 when I visited my elder brother, Henky, who introduced me to prog music in 70's, played DT "Awake" on his Yamaha stereo set and Polk Audio speaker system at his house. He turned the power amp loudly. I was amazed with the fantastic drumming at the intro of first track by the "unknown" (for me, at that time) Portnoy. It reminded me to RUSH's Neil Peart. What a fantastic drumming style! "Who is this guy?" I asked my bro and he still kept the CD case with him. "If I show you this CD case, you would know the name of the band as it's now famous already", he said. In the middle of this first dazzling and uplifting track he handed me the CD case. DREAM THEATER - Awake!! Wow! I'm familiar with this name as so many teens use their T shirts in my country. But I never heard their music yet.

At that time I was not so keen with prog music anymore as MARILLION, my hero, went pop / straight rock in early 1990. I was fed up with musical trend at that time. I was so longing for early YES, early GENESIS, PINK FLOYD, ELP .. that sort of bands. But "6:00" of DT blew me! I even failed to identify what sort of music these guys were playing. Frankly, I was not aware what is prog music. But "Awake" changed my perception about DT. Since then I collected almost all official albums of DT.

My visit to my bro's house when he introduced me, again, to the root of modern prog rock music represented my second come back to prog. The kind of music I had been dreaming to enjoy. I also remember that Henky also showed me the other album of DT "A Change of Seasons" that did not attract me first time looking at it because it contained some cover of LED ZEPP, KANSAS, DEEP PURPLE and others. I did not like a cover band actually. Since then I started collecting prog albums again.

What's so great about this album? Two things: musicianship and composition. These blokes are really skillful in their respective field. Other than Portnoy, I was amazed with the bass player John Myung who plays dynamically throughout the whole album (except "Spce-Dye Vest" probably). The other players that I like as well were Moore with his thick sound keyboard, Petrucci with his powerful riff. On composition, all tracks have been beautifully crafted by the band, each track is well positioned to create ultimate satisfaction for listeners. On particular, I want to emphasize the nice position of "Erotomania" - "Voice" - "Silent man". I think these three tracks must be enjoyed as one track as "Erotomania" has successfully created an atmosphere to enter "Voice" which then closed nicely by acoustic based "Silent Man". Really cool!

Having enjoyed the relaxing music of "Silent Man", the band brings us back to a heavy guitar riff (and dazzling bass guitar) kind of music in "The Mirror". I like also the way Moore plays his keyboard. Stunning! LaBrie's voice is powerful. The tone of this track slows down in approx min 5:45 with keyboard taking its part followed by guitar. It then flows smoothly with "Lie". What a wonderful transition!

If my bro at that time played "Lifting Shadows Off a Dream" instead of "6:00" I might probably think that DT is another neo-progressive rock band. Sort of MARILLION, IQ, PALLAS with a different kind of singing style. Definitely, LaBrie's voice is not the kind of voice for neo prog rock. The keyboard melody at the intro of "Lifting Shadows Off a Dream". Excellent track. The next track "Scarred" has a very cool intro of cymbal sounds, followed by stunning lead guitar and drumming. LaBrie's voice enters in "breathing" style. The track is then going into a higher tone with (as usual, DT style) guitar riff "jeg-e-jeg-je-eg" (that's how rock community in my country call the sound of guitar riff). It's a terrific track packed with instrument sounds played skillfully by the boys in the band.

Any human being, be it a pop lover, rock lover, or other music lover will definitely love "Space-Dye Vest". It has a very nice piano intro and touchy melody! Try this track first before you try any other track. You would think that DT is not "metal" influenced band. You might recall PINK FLOYD influence in this track, especially the sound effect of people's voice in the crowd.

Overall, this is a MUST HAVE album in your prog collection. It's a masterpiece! I think.

What do you think? - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

Report this review (#11423)
Posted Thursday, June 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Awake is perhaps an ironic title for Dream Theater's third studio album. The two previous albums flowed like a dream but this album is where the nightmare starts to kick in with its heavy edge and dark lyrics. What is also ironic is that it will be impossible to sleep through the dramatic intensity of this album. Awake follows on well from Images and Words with a darker edge to it. LaBrie's vocals are more confined, sounding drastic and evil. This plays well with The heavier and haunting sound that the band have created for this album. This especially makes the mellower songs "The Silent Man" and "Space-Dye Vest" much more powerful and these two songs deliver a great balance on the album. Overall this album is produced well and is a delight for metal fans of the first two albums yet it continues the brilliant prog sound which follows on from the previous album.

Petrucci never fails to impress on this album and it's nice to see him trying different structres of his guitar work. Mike Portnoy is probably more of a highlight on this album as he offers intense drum work throughout the heavier sections of the album yet manages to keep up the good work for the mellower parts, which is more familiar to Images and Words.

"6:00" automatically draws you into the album with the opening drum solo and furious dark vocals. This track still shows off much progression and it builds up well from the drum solo and "6:00 on a christmas morning" to much more impressive stuff. "Caught in a Web" is a great piece that continues the flow of the album. The bands sound may seem a bit dramatic at times (especially LaBrie's vocals) but it's all good. "Innocence Faded" is one of the more beautiful pieces and somehow reminds me of the "light to dark, dark to light" feel of "Surrounded" on Images & Words. Erotomania is a dark and spellbounding instrumental that reminds me of "The Call of Ktulu" by Metallica. This song always manages to build and fade majestically and is a delight to the ears. The guitar sounds here are pretty manic like the title would suggest. voices adds a slower and paced balance to the album which leads beautifully into "The Silent Man" which is an acoustic ballad, showing off the other side of petrucci and stretching LaBrie's vocals. This song along with "Space-Dye Vest" are really one of kind and sort of show off the heart of the band, offering a "Wish You Were Here" sort of edge to these songs.

"The Mirror" is the centrepiece of the album (reflecting the album cover) offering a more metallic edge to the second half of the album. The album continues smoothly with lengthy "Scarred" and "Lie" which give the latter half the album as much skill as the first. When "Space-Dye Vest" arrives you are no longer awake with the lulling piano piece and experimental voices that are similar to Dark Side of the Moon. Awake starts to turn back into the wonderful dream which is Dream Theater. This is a brilliant album from the band and is just as essential as Images & Words and Scenes from a Memory.

Report this review (#11426)
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Yet another masterpiece by DT. 'Awake' makes an impressive follow-up to the amazing 'Images & Words', mostly by showing off a different, more metallic approach to their signature prog metal sound. Generally speaking, the 'Awake' repertoire is fiercer and fierier than its predecessor's: the sound is more aggressive, the performances are penetrated by a harder edge, a big deal of the guitar riffs and solos are quite sombre, at times even openly belligerent. The more subdued role of Moore's keys (only two solos in the whole album) helps to decrease the symphonic splendour of 'I&W' in order to emphasize the overall heavy mood here. The first two tracks are clear manifestos of the refurbished thing that's gping on. Other massive examples are the incendiary duet 'The Mirror'/'Lie' and the stormy 'Scarred'. While the instrumentation provided by Petrucci, Myung and Moore is openly dark and heavy, Portnoy manages to create a clever counterbalnce by allowing his drumming to get quite loosened, at times leaning toward the cadence of jazz and funky, without losing a miligram of rock energy. His introductory rolls for '6:00' are simply masterful, and so is the fluid foundation he lays for 'The Mirror' / 'Lie' and 'Scarred' all thorughout its tempo shifts and varying motifs (a special mention for his input in the closing section of 'Scarred'). IMHO, it is the three-part suite 'A Mind Beside Itself' that shines as the most impressive gem in this album - its three successive sections really operate as separate tracks with their own respective artistic structures, yet they also manage to provide an amazing unitary whole. The pyrotechnical instrumental 'Erotomania' is a real disturbing musical journey thorugh an exciting diversity of motifs, which include appropriate anticipations of some lines from the following two sections; 'Voices' is a very inspired ode to the destructive drive of mental-emotional chaos, powerful without getting too speedy most of the time; ultimately, the last section 'The Silent Man' turns out to be a gentle, lyrical acoustic ballad that serves as a final serene relief. There are also softer tracks, such as 'Innocence faded' and 'Lifting Shadows off a Dream', that see DT making a stand between AOR and 90s Rush: these are highly melodic numbers, never getting mellow or "corny". The closure is definitely something to remember (it sounds in my head while I'm writing this) - 'Space-Dye Vest' is an awesome ambient-oriented ballad penned by Moore, in this way anticipating the Chroma Key stuff to some degree. Though it's not built upon a frantic tempo, its lyrics and mood are still emotionally violent: a brilliant ending for a brilliant album.
Report this review (#11428)
Posted Friday, July 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The third studio album of DT is full of exiting performances and wonderful songs... The highlight is, surely, the suite A MAN BESIDE ITSELF... Erotomania must be the best instrumental piece DT ever wrote, with the exception of THE DANCE OF ETERNITY maybe... This album is harder than previous, more heavy metal oriented. Is the last record of Kevin Moore with the band as well. Don't lose the chance of enjoying it, just for what detractors of heavy prog says all the time...
Report this review (#11431)
Posted Saturday, July 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars AWAKE album is where I came to know of Dream Theater.I found this album in my sis'cassettes collection and started listining.The first thing that came into my ears(or actually my heart) is the Oooh..ooh..of La Brie in Lifting Shadows off a Dream .I liked his style very much.Singing those high notes with a healthy voice..its very inspiring.Since then I have regarded La Brie as the greatest vocalist in the entire Rock Scene.The other song like INNOCENCE FADED,VOICES and LIE were very good.The acoustic influenced THE SILENT MAN is also very good but i like the LIVE VERSION bettre which is more RICH and HEAVIER.The recording is good and all the members played very well.Inspired by it very much,I lend this album to my friends who liked it very much.I was impressed they even liked it more than me.This album had made us buy the other DT albums too which were equally good and some...even better. IF YOU WANNA ROCK...THIS ALBUM IS A MUST.
Report this review (#11433)
Posted Sunday, August 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
3 stars Dream Theater - Awake

My first introduction to Dream Theater was the song Metropolis Part 1. After hearing it I became quite curious about their music and when I paid my local record store a visit I noticed that this was the only Dream Theater album they had.

It was not a bad buy I got to say. After repeated listens I discovered that the songs are not all of excellent quality looking at the compositions and the sound of the tracks, but overall it is a good album.

The best songs are definitely the epic tracks Scarred which features technical playing with great atmospheric wallpapers of keyboard sounds and the closing ballad Space Dye Vest which is all about James LaBrie's vocals accompanying piano.

Report this review (#11434)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Early risers

Dream Theater are one of those bands I feel have a really great album in them, trying to get out. With most of their albums though, I find that while I enjoy them, they fall short of my expectations, and I am left with a sense of disappointment.

It is hard to say exactly what it is that falls short, but I believe it's mainly down to the guitar work. While it's fast and well performed, the solos seem to be to be rather directionless, and predictable.

With "Awake", Dream Theater created a more diverse collection than on previous albums, and developed some of the tracks well. The opening track "6 o'clock" is quite surprising. It sounds almost like a remix of an original track, with very rough vocals on a heavy background.

Personally, and this probably reflects my tastes more than anything, I really enjoyed the softer tracks. For my money, if Dream Theater created a few more of these, I for one would enjoy them far more. "Innocence faded" and in particular "Space-dye vest" are very affecting ballads, sung surprisingly sensitively.

On the other hand, tracks like "Erotomania" and Scarred" seem over anxious to jump from one theme to another before the previous one has been fully developed.

A good, but ultimately flawed album.

Report this review (#11435)
Posted Friday, October 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first record that i heard from Dream Theatre was 'Train of Thought'. Although i had heard of them before, i pictured them as one of those guitar hero bands, with never ending, a hundred notes per second solos. I was obviously very wrong, and i was totally blown away by the great songwriting, diversity and musicianship present on their music. Personally, i think that 'Awake' is mostly uninspired. Sure there are great songs: 6.00, Voices, The Mirror, Silent man. But the bulk of the album is ponderous. The musicianship is fantastic of course, but the songwriting is not as good as on other albums.
Report this review (#11437)
Posted Friday, November 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Definitley a good listen. It combines the powerful musicianship of Rush, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep!! It is not Prog-rock in the Yes Sence, but more in the Rush vain. They could be the Rush of the late 80s!! I think they are better than alot of mainstream metal bands!! Its a shame that the real good bands are not in the mainstream! My 2 favorite songs are, 6:00 and Caught in a Web!! The album is a tremendous odessy into Hell and The eternal darkness!! Check it out!!!
Report this review (#11438)
Posted Wednesday, January 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars DREAM THEATER seems to be one of those bands whose works you either love or you hate, and this album I definitely love. Try as I might, I simply cannot find fault with this--not even in JAMES LaBRIE's voice, which many people seem to despise. It's true, his voice may shock the listener at first, especially if all you've ever heard from him is his guest appearance on AYREON's album The Human Equation. It caught me by surprise as well, just what an abrasive, nasal yowling he can summon up when he wants to...and while I don't think I could listen to an entire album of him going on in that tone, the important thing is that LaBRIE seems to know when it's appropriate to sound that way and when it isn't, and he has sufficient versatility as a vocalist to find an appropriate sound for just about any sort of music. Tracks like "Voices" and "The Mirror" do well to show off his many contrasting techniques in the course of a single song.

Another strength of Awake lies in the pacing of the album; each song seems to be placed where it will have the maximum impact, whether that be the sudden explosion of "The Mirror" after the album's acoustic piece, "The Silent Man", or the placement of the subdued but remarkable "Space-Dye Vest" as the closer...this is the kind of track you need to meditate in silence on for a few seconds after listening, and it's built right in. But what I think best serves DREAM THEATER in this album--despite what some have said--is the discipline they show in the construction of their songs. Unlike some of their later works, which, while they sound good, have a tendency to ramble on a bit much and bore the listener, it seems to me that the band has taken care to make its points and explore its sound--but without trying one's patience. Even the instrumental, "Erotomania", runs exactly as long as I think could have feasibly done, and stops just before the point of overdoing it. Don't worry when you see song lengths of 10 and 11 minutes, because the pacing of each song and the length of solos seems to have been controlled as well.

As I listened to the album to make this review, I started coming to a conclusion that...while I may be wrong...perhaps this more disciplined approach is due to the absence ofDREAM THEATER's current keyboardist, JORDAN RUDESS. Instead, this spot is filled by KEVIN MOORE, who seems to hold a different philosophy on how to work his instrument into a song. MOORE's work is perhaps a bit more reminiscent of PINK FLOYD keyboardist RICK WRIGHT's...that is, if you can imagine WRIGHT playing with this sort of band. MOORE tends to stay in the background for most of the album, and while not playing anything very flashy, he seems to know just what tone is needed where, from the captivating, warped-sounding synths in "Caught in a Web" and "Lie", to the subtle pipe organ in the background of "Scarred" in places. One of the best songs of the album, "Space-Dye Vest", is entirely his baby, both lyrically and musically. I have absolutely no idea what that title is intended to mean, but this is where MOORE really shows what he brings to DREAM THEATER. This track has a more atmospheric, brooding feel to it reminiscent of PINK FLOYD songs like "Nobody Home", a resemblance which strengthens all the more when the sound clips come in.

Other favorites besides "Space-Dye Vest" include "6:00", "Caught in a Web", and the vicious one-two punch of "The Mirror" (lyrically among the most interesting), "Voices" and "Scarred" (which probably have the most emotional pull) and "Lie", which almost seem to be like two parts of the same song. Overall, Awake seems to be well balanced between "smart" and "accessible", and seems to be completely without any true flaws. There are a few songs that, if I don't have time for the full album--and I highly recommend listening to this one in a single sitting (preferably on a good stereo system)--that I might jump over, like "The Silent Man" or "Innocence Faded", but they are still solid, enjoyable songs, and I don't think there is any need to drag down an excellent album's rating. Disciplined, and lyrically and musically interesting, of what I've heard so far, Awake seems to be one of the best of DREAM THEATER, and I think anyone even remotely interested in prog metal, even some who might not get near a harder band like SYMPHONY X or OPETH, should make sure to have this one in their collection.

Report this review (#11439)
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars To score a classic album in the rockanthology, is a huge success by itself. In the future, some kids will bring out your album from the dusty shelf, play it, and say: 'Dude, these guys knew what they were doing...' With Rush, Dream Theater is the heavy progressive band with the most classics in their résumé.

Awake is, to me, the peak of their metallic sound and does carry more good stuff than Images and Words. A good 60% of the album is classic stuff. With 6:00, Caught in A Web, Erotomania, Mirror, Lie, Lifting Shadow off a Dream and Space-Dye Vest, Dream Theater's never been this competent in songwriting. This line-up with Kevin Moore as keyboardist made good times of my college years. 10 years ago, this was THE extravanganza, a knid of new era where progressive rock was pulverizing speakers but also got a bit more into marketing approach.

The guys from Dream Theater were, let's be frank, mostly good looking guys (sorry Steve Howe). And they tooked advantage of their youth and their looks. Because DT was POSING like crazy back in 94! They gave themselves a 'darker' look, sporting only black shirts and pants. The big hair with lots of body was a major advantage to pass the test to die-hard metallic afficionados who only sweared by Gun's and Roses or my school though. Anyway, they became a standard quickly, passing from the obscurity of second zone gigs to sold-out concerts in the spotlight.

The thing is with DT is that you REALLY don't need a lot of albums to get the best of what they did. I say with Metropolis, Awake and perhaps Images and Words, you pretty much get what they're about. Awake being shorter songs with great kick and having Kevin Moore in the bunch, this is the best record for the price you'll pay. The near totallity of the songs are to cherish and the amount of solid crunchy riffs will satisfy any metal tooth.

As Homer would resume: "Hmmmm, classy."

Report this review (#11445)
Posted Saturday, February 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Awake, is definitely the best Dream Theater's album. This is coming from a fan who followed them through every album without fail since their very first album. Why Awake? Because it sums up in one album what Dream Theater is all about. You can hear every bit and pieces from every single album they have produced in this particular album. In other words, to know Dream Theater is to get Awake. It is well balanced in every aspect. No overzealous change of melody and sorts. There is definitely a song for everybody in this album. Erotomania, in my opinion is their best instrumental still. Why? Again, it is a complete showcase of what they can do and what they can write. There's heavy stuff, classical, world etc in this song. How not to like a song that has everything?

This album is also the only album I can listen through without having to touch the forward button. I may not like every song but none of it are bad.

Level of musicianship without having to say is right up there. Hey's it's Dream Theater. You also get to listen to Kevin Moore, whom I still prefer to Jordan. Moore is about mood, feel, emotion and not finger ripping. I definitely miss him. LaBrie added power and punch to his voice and it fits the songs on this album perfectly

Production on this album is simply awesome. Clarity of every single instrument and voice is superb.

This is the album to get. What are you waiting for?

Report this review (#11448)
Posted Saturday, March 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, since discovering this site a few weeks ago, I have put up a few reviews of some of my favorite albums. This is my first DT review, but probably first of many since they are one of my favorites. This is, to me, the best album they have done, with the possible exception of Metropolis Pt. 2. I agree with the other reviewers who have said this might be the true essence of the band; everything they have ever done can indeed be heard in this album. It has the melodies of IAW, the metal of Train Of Thought, the straight-ahead prog of Metropolis Pt. 2. Good stuff! Personal favorites include Caught In A Web (killer groove!), Mirror, Lie, Space Dye Vest & 6:00. I don't particularly enjoy the "A Mind Beside Itself" trilogy (heresy!) due to its excessive and somewhat-contrived (IMO) "progginess" but the rest of the album is gold. Kevin Moore deserves note here as it was the last album with him and really shows off his tasteful and tasty style very well. The keyboards are fantastic throughout the album. I especially love his textures in heavy songs such as Mirror, Caught In A Web, & Lie, and in the haunting Space Dye Vest. Recommended for anyone who has even a passing interest in Dream Theater.
Report this review (#11450)
Posted Sunday, March 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have a lot of trouble being able to listen through more than 2 tracks on DT albums. I bought most of the DT albums on sale at JB hi-fi for $11 each.

Every so often I give this stuff another try - I try to get into it - I really do - but it just doesn't make a connection with me. But obviously it does with a lot of other people. So if you can feel moved by this music, then good for you - I don't want to spoil it for you.

For me, I think most DT albums (including this one, which is one of the better ones) can be summed uo like this:

Incredible chops/technique Terrible lyrics + songwriting Awful vocals (this is the worst part) Complete lack of taste + very cheesy songs.

Also, on this album, they are obviously going for a slightly heavier sound, and yet it still sounds very sanitized and slick.

I just can't imagine inviting someone over to check out my music collection and saying "Hey you should check out these guys ..." and actually playing DT to someone.

Report this review (#11454)
Posted Sunday, March 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars My first DT album ever!

I remember something like 5 years ago when i didn`t really know Dream Theater, in that time i had listened to a few songs about them, and a couple of friends had recommend them to me, so i was someday in a store and i found it very cheap ( something like 7 dls, very cheap for me) , so i decided to buy it besides a Jane`s Addiction live album which in that time i loved so much.

I put it in my stereo when i got home, and i liked it so much, but that was only the first time, then and nowadays i dont find it so marvelous and enjoyable as the first listens, maybe because i have changed in musical tastes, i dont know, i like DT a lot, not a fan, but i like them, but honestly this album as a whole is not that great, at the point that i dont listen to it very often, just sometimes when i can stand it and i have mood, or maybe i play only a couple of songs and i put it out of my CD player.

I think it has a special powerful sound, also Kevin Moore was here, i still prefer or like a bit more Jordan Rudess, but anyway Moore play very well and he contributed a lot with this album, now that i have a better opinion, and im not a kid, i can tell that i like so much all the band, each guy with it`s instrument is great, and also Labrie`s voice is quite good for me ,so that`s an extra point, despite the music or album could not been that good , and if im not wrong, it lasts more than 70 minutes, which sadly nowadays i cannot stand, but that`s a personal feeling, only if i love the album i can listen to 100 minutes, but for others 70 minutes is very long for me, also it depends of my mood.

Awake offers to us 11 songs, when we can find everything from powerful metal songs to a rockish ballad,and here are my favorite points, only mentioning that the first song 6:00 has always caught my attention because of the keyboard sound at the beginning of it, but actually i dont really like it.

"Caught in a Web", great song , one of them that i alwas remember and am pleased to listen when i can, it has a great sound of guitars and keyboards, also i like to sing it.

"Erotomania" , a pity that i found a couple of songs that i love more than this, but Erotomania makes me going crazy always when i listen to it, in fact that half of the album and part called "A Mind Beside Itself" is my favorite of them all, i can tell that i love that part those 3 songs Erotomania as i said above is the first of them, and it`s instrumental, but it sound oh my god!, great. Then the best of them all, "Voices" when all make their best in composition, music, lyrics and emotion to create this great masterpiece full of a powerful and sentimental sound, then the last of this trilogy is "The Silent Man" showing us that a metal band can also create soft and nice songs, with a religious touch.

And The Mirror which is a classic DT song is the other one that i like so much, overall it`s changes and keyboard , but after it i dont like the other ones, maybe i like the most commercial or succesful, i dont know,m but if i choose them, is because i like them best and the other ones are boring for me. For that im giving 3 stars because i love only the half of the album.

Report this review (#11455)
Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Dream Theater at their best but sadly Kevin Moore's last and his unique contributions to the music leaves far bigger impression on me than Sherninan or Rudess after this. I normally have troubles with James LaBrie's voice but on this album he is consitensly excellent in his performance, his dynamic peak in my opinion and goes along the music incredibly well here. The compositions are tight and some of their best ever, songs like "Scarred" or "Mind Beside Itself" still remains in my top 10 and they are supported with superb musicianship all the way. Moore made a final contribution to the band with "Space Dye-West" on a dark and highly atmospheric note and it seems to have gained cult status among fans, it's an incredible ballad. Overall the best and most complete Dream Theater release in my ears with great variation in the songs.
Report this review (#11457)
Posted Friday, April 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Ok, I like Dream Theater. Maybe 'cause I'm one of those "14-year-old-wannabe-guitar- heroes" or just cause I like complicated music. But I have to say that this album is one of the worst of this incredible band. The songs are quite heavy and the arrangements are much worse than the enormous album "Images & Words". One of the better songs is "Erotomania", great solos, as we are used to DT. The rest is quite uninteresting. When you want to get a glimpse of the music by DT, you should listen to "Metropolis Pt 2" or "Images & Words". I'm looking forward to the new album "Octavarium"! That's it. Greets from Germany



Report this review (#35180)
Posted Friday, June 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is probably my favorite Dream Theater album (that I have, I only have this, Scenes, Train of Thought, and Octavarium). It is moslty heavy progressive metal, and it doesn't have very many slow songs, which is good for Dream Theater, seeing as how (for me, anyway) Dream skills at writing and performing slow songs are less than adequate. Maybe its just LaBrie's voice. LaBrie is a great singer but when he isn't screaming, he oversings like any other EMO singer.

The album begins with 6:00, a great heavy rocker, with some slow moments that aren't terrible. Some of Dream Theater's better lyrics as well. It continues with the heavy, keyboard laden track 'Caught in a Web.' One thing Dream Theater is the master of is blending great synth riffs with super heavy guitar/bass riffs. This song is prime example, and it has great lyrics and vocals as well. Innocence Faded= boring wussy EMO ripp off song. Next is the instrumental Erotomania, possibly the best song on the album (could this be because it doesn't feature LaBrie or any awkward lyrics? Just Kidding). It features multiple solos and slow part, and has some excerpt from a classical piece played on Petrucci's heavily distorted guitar. It blends seemlessly into the next track, Voices, another good one with great Heavy parts. Next comes the boring Silent Man. Then comes the super heavy Mirror, another great song which blends the keyboards with the super heavy guitar and sounds great, although there is some guy just kind of talking to LaBrie (like a question and answer deal) and his voice is really annoying. Lie is a great heavy song with great lyrics. Then comes the heavy yet unremarkable Lifting Shadows off a Dream, with lyrics penned by bassist John Myung. However they're not terrible. Then comes the epic Scarred, a great heavy song with good solos. Then the album ends with the really junky Space-Dye Vest. I really do not like this song, because it is seven plus minutes of LaBrie whining.

So this is probably Dream Theater's best album that I know of. It features great heavy riffs blended together with excellent synth licks and riffs. Highlights include: 6:00, Caught in a Web, Erotomania, Mirror, and Lie.

Report this review (#37275)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Awake" is DT's last album with Kevin Moore and it shows how important he was to their sound. Moore gets one solo writing credit for the dramatic closer "Space dye vest". His keyboards also open the album, after Portnoy's drum intro in the rocking "6:00". He gets more playing time than Rudess or Sherinian did and in some songs he is the dominant instrumentalist. This is probably the only time it has happened and it has a positive effect on the album, although Petrucci himself adds some fine solos to the mix, notably in "Lie", where his heavy crunched guitar drives the song.

The best song here is unquestionably "The Mirror". It sounds like it is four songs put together as the tempo and the melody changes all the time. La Brie's screaming vocals are too much of the good, but he redeems himself eventually. Overall, a fine improvement for DT and one of their ultimate classics. "Innocence faded" is an attempt to cross over to the more mellow, mainstream pop/rock music and it almost succeeds. "Caught in a web", "Voices" and "Scarred" are all semi-successful and they switch from highs to lows all the time. The biggest flaw here are La Brie's too high pitched screams and they really ruin the pleasure. The instrumental "Erotomania" starts off well for so to turn tedious and uninspired. "Lifting shadows off a dream" is a nice ballad, but after a while one tires of it. Petrucci's solo takes the cake in sounding out of place and out of tune. "The silent man" is another nice ballad on acoustic guitar and annoying backing vocals (presumably by Petrucci,the author).

So, I wouldn't say that DT peaked with this album, but it was certainly a step forward in the musical sense from the too overplayed and oversung "Images and words", which bordered on pop too many times. One thing that may have marred this album is the dominant heavy metal sound mastered by Petrucci as well as Le Brie's tasteless vocals. Overall, it is an album every prog metal fan should listen to at least once, but in the length it doesn't always hold up.

Report this review (#38114)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great album, but with some mistakes. There's no more Kevin Moore, but Sherinian did a great job trying to be one more of the band; but doing some totally different from Images.., in fact, the good thing about DT, is that they try(ied) to be original in every album.

So, let's talk about the album: It starts with a great drum, power song, then, the two other songs are, basically, the same song, in my opinion, but still, good, after we find a great suite starting with an excellent instrumental song, with all the good thing of the instrumental songs, then one of the best songs from DT, all what i love from dt in one song: emotion, power, calm, a mixture of many thing, bringing a new flavor, that you can't find just adding the elements, and ending with an emotive song; all the changes in that suite make it one of the best songs of dt.

After we find the lows points of this album, 2 songs that are there just to fill some time, but they are a waste of time, i always skip those songs.

Then another emotive song, another good song, after that, on song like the two bads, but doing it good, that's weird, don't you think?, and a great end after that.

The music is one in all the album, but mixing a lot of things, but doing a good mixing, not a bad one.

Report this review (#38594)
Posted Tuesday, July 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a realy overated album n the way it is something less than the Masterpiece most of reviwers talk about.

Don´t get me wrong. The album rocks but its no way a metropolis 2 or Images. Some great songs coexist with some simply good moments. Erotomania, space dye vest, voices and 6:00 are prog jewels but songs like The mirror, scared and lie are good songs but one class lower than the Others. The atmospheric tracks are quite good with the silent man to be The most catchy.

Overall it is a 4 star album but not their peak.

Report this review (#40221)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Is not a bad album, but im disagree with the most of the reviews, for me this album dont deserves the name of masterpiece , dont deserves to be qualified with 5 stars, yes, maybe is a good album, and maybe my favourite dream theater´s song is here, Erotomania is a beautiful and powerful prog metal song, thats why i love it, but well, the album has a block of 3 songs called A mind beside itself, this episode of the album is the best pat of it, includes erotomania, voices and the silent man, ( all of us knows very well that song), and i should say, that, that moment of the album is extraordinary, the best, is just what the fans of the band ask for , but only that moment is good, because since you listened the album complete, maybe you´re sleeping or something else, i have to admit... the mirror is a great song too, but the last good song for me, after that, the album is totally boring, must of the people maybe dont like what i say, but all of us knows that is our own taste, and the mine is here and i share with all of you, also i almost forget, the song called 6 : 00, is really boring and a bad bad song to open the album, i think dream theater is one of the most representatives prog bands actually, and i think they has better albums than this. To be honest im agree with the eople who likes and think the best is metropolis part 2.
Report this review (#40261)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 Stars

This is the follow up to the great 'images and words' and they followed it fine. This is a pretty good album that is less accessible than the other one, making it not the best way to begin the Dream Theater Collection. There is much more music in this album (75 minutes), and it is not easy headbanging music, so it will take a while to digest. The main cricitism in this album is not so great songwriting and the awful vocals.

1. 6:00 6/10 : It is a good start of the album. technically great, it suffers from the voice clips in the song muc, which for me hurt the quality of the song.

2. Caught in a Web 6/10 : This is a heavy song that has a simple structure. the instrumental break is very nice, but the songwriting is nothing to write home about.

3. Innocence Faded 4.5/10 : This is better than the previous two songs, and it sounds like a song that could have been placed in 'Images and Words'. Accessible and catchy, but the vocals are beyond awful. 4. Erotomania 7/10 : This is an instrumental piece in which the band shows their talents with solid riffing.

5. Voices 7/10 : Labrie screaming is interesting. This is a heavy emotional song with time signatures. Somhow I feel like it is a part of Erotamania.

6. The Silent Man 7/10 : A very good acoustic driven song with gorgeous vocal harmonies. The short instrumental break with acoustic guitars is wonderful. 7. The Mirror 7.5/10 : A heavy Metallica-like Guitar riff opens this piece while Moore plays his keyboards and church organ. The angry singing begins and the main riff will appear for the first time which is an electric piano melded beautifully with a heavy guitar riff.

8. Lie 7/10 : For me, this is the second half of The Mirror. It is a heavy and very interesting song with plenty of guitar shows. The keyboards play a similar role to 'Mirror'

9. Lifting Shadows Off a Dream 8/10 : A beautiful ballad with a very 'lifting' guitar line. The Singing here is probably the best in the album (besides Space-dye Vest). The acoustic work is also some of the best delicate playing of Petrucci (especially on the short instrumental break)

10. Scarred 8/10 : The epic of the album, and it does not disappoint at all! It has the feeling of 'Learning to Live' but it is better structured.

11. Space-Dye Vest 10/10 : Easily the best song from the album, and their best ballad. It is dark, haunting, melodic, and highly emotional. It is also dominated by piano melodies. The song interested me enough that I learned to play it in the piano. It starts with a pretty ascending/descending piano melody, it is repeated and then it is followed by the first verse of the song which is very dark and haunting. The vocal melody here is probably the best in all of Dream Theater, following the piano melody while differing from it a little. The chorus is incredibly beautiful with pedal-piano chords and voices that empowers the song. The 2nd verse and chorus are repeated with new musical ideas, and the instrumental break is a piano dominated beauty. After that instrumental part ends, the melody that was heard in the beginning is repeated.

My opinion is that this is a very solid album of consistent quality which is ended in the most beautiful way possible. I recommend any piano players here try to play Space-Dye Vest. It is a rather easy piano piece, and with midi files and a program regarding midis, you can know where the chords are. Metalheads have much to enjoy here.

My Grade : C/B

Report this review (#41913)
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tony R
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars What is art? The creation of beautiful and/or thought-provoking works? Well beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this album provokes thoughts in my mind. Deep, dark, ugly thoughts. Dream Theater are a band who seem to always be on the edge of something great but can never quite get it out. Sometimes this reveals itself in the middle of songs when just as you expect the knockout blow they move back into safe ground with a florid swirl of keyboards a drum roll too far or particularly Petrucci who takes 30 notes to say what most decent guitarists can say with a chord.

The musicianship on this album approaches virtuosic levels, but not the composition. There are passages on most tracks that delight and also parts that stink. "Space-Dye Vest" is the best track here by a country mile. Nice jangly piano, emotive vocals, fuzzy restrained guitar- a beautiful, tasteful track which is unusual for this band.

"Erotomania" is an interesting instrumental, but yet again, less would be more because they really overplay. "The Mirror" starts like a death metal track but is not bad and a least has some invention. On every single other track the vocals really irritate me. I mean this guy LaBrie can really sing when he wants to so why does he have to wail and whine so out of tune?

Dream Theater are ideal for those who want more than just plain Heavy Metal, a sort of Young Person's Guide to Prog Music. Not for me though.

Report this review (#42473)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Excellent follow up to the stunning Images and Words. This is a much more brooding and heavier album than the album that made Dream Theater prog metal legends. This is much less immediate than IAW, needs more listenning to appreciate it. However it is also more versatile, and the whole album is very well balanced, every thack is in the right place. Especially a good idea that Kevin's farewell song(pure brilliance, and maybe an early forerunner of OSI) closes the album. It is also a good thing, that after the quite acustic piece The Silent Man the heavy riffs of The Mirror conquer the listener. On this album each song is great. I like especially A Mind Beside Itself , an epic in three parts(it contains their best instrumental Erotomania) , Scarred, and the "twin songs" The Mirror and Lie. The band members shine, but this is hardly surprising on a Dream Theater album. James LaBrie also gives a great performance, even if many people would prefer listening to a bunch of crows instead of him. Dream Theater proved with this album, that they are not one-album-wonders. Unfortunately , the last album with keyboard player Kevin Moore.His contribution was very important to the music of Dream Theater. His songwriting often will be missed, especially after 2002.
Report this review (#44334)
Posted Friday, August 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the slightly overrated Images And Words comes this very impressive 75 minute slice of prog metal.The sound and playing is spot on.The songs are solid and LaBrie's singing just about manages not to overtake the whole thing.I have to deduct a point because as a matter of taste I prefer Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence,but this is worth checking out for sure.
Report this review (#44401)
Posted Friday, August 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars heard Awake before Images and Words. The album was amazing; it was astounding and absolutely breath-taking. Then I decided to listen to the album as if I were anxiously anticipating it, after having loved their previous release. Under this new light, I thought the album would gather a completely different makeup than its predecessor. In some ways, it does - which is not an altogether bad thing.

Many songs are much darker, namely "Voices" - one of the album's two longer songs, and "The Mirror", the heaviest song on the album, whose melodies recur in its neighboring track, "Lie" and in Moore-written "Space-Dye Vest". All of the aforementioned songs have had dark moods - even "Lifting Shadows Off a Dream", whose very name insinuates a change of mood, is treated with an almost somber tone that never departs. "Erotomania" is very reminiscent of "Ytse Jam" as it is an instrumental romp through spontaneous melodies, guitar/keyboard collaborations, rampant drums and changing rhythms. It's as if the band had an extremely short attention span - they don't stick to a melody for more than tens of seconds before the song changes direction. The 11-minute "Scarred" is not your typical Dream Theater epic - it's not that good. It begins as a neo-jazz piece and escalates into something that sounds like "The Mirror", but without the maddening crunch that made the latter so delectable. The song has its moments, but they're too far into the song to save it. Thankfully, the band has saved the best song for last.

Kevin Moore's "Space-Dye Vest" is the darkest of songs and single-handedly dictates the feel of the whole. It begins with a lonely piano and sung by a choir of James LaBrie's over-dubbed drone(s), accompanied by synthesized static and audio clips, which give the song the tone of a future gone askew. The lyrical interpretations are many, but the guitars roaring in the background and the continuing sadness of the keyboards never permit this song to be uplifting. Even the two "happier" songs ("Innocence Faded" and "The Silent Man") are somewhat gloomy - they are only cheerful melodically, not lyrically.

No matter how I try to view the album, I can't see it as anything else but another masterpiece. Darker than the albums that came before it, Awake is worth any music lover's time - Dream Theater only gets better.

See also: Dream Theater - Train of Thought, Dream Theater - Images and Words

Report this review (#45029)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Headline: Dream Theater strikes again!"( wow, that was corney...) This album takes you on an emotional rollercoaster that has everything form intence metal, 90's rock, classic rock, classic prog, epic, spacey prog, and a dark piano based song. Everything dripping wiht that classic DreamTheater intricicy and talent. A great album with an amazing flow. Essential for any progger
Report this review (#46035)
Posted Thursday, September 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Best Labries work with Dream Theater, he's voice shines in this album. For me its the 3third best Dream Theater album(with 6doIT), it gathers a new side and it has some darings dream theater dont do often, such as Lie solo(the final solo) is awesome. Songs like Erotomania just shows the talented these 5 musicians are. The best song in this album is Scarred, although i listen to Space Dye-Vest more times than Scarred. The mixture with melodic+heavy in this album is simply great. You can feel they were exploding talent and decided to make an album and deliver it to songs, and god they hitted the spot.

Im very proud of owning such album.

4.5 out of 5 im my opinion focusing on vocals, guitars and most keyboards(I actually think more keyboards would be nice in this album), and Lifting Shadows off a Dream Lyrics.

Report this review (#46411)
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
4 stars Maybe not as brilliant as "Images And Words", "Awake" it's still a fantastic album by these great musicians...

"Awake" was the first Dream Theater album I heard, and this album introduced me into the world of progressive, because I started my prog collection with this CD, almost 10 years ago...

This album can be divided in two sections in my opinion:

One: songs in a very much commercial way and with a more conventional composition and instrumental developement than "Images and Words", with a more hard rocking style and with more modern keyboard playing. These songs can be taken like an advance of the very commercial "Falling Into Infinity". The songs included here are: 6:00 (one of the best of the album), Caught In a Web (a classic), Innocence Faded (the most commercial act of the album, but with a grest LaBrie's singing...), The Silent Man (very beautiful acoustic song) and Lifting Shadows Off A Dream (great song, without a doubt).

Two: very much complex songs, in a similar way of "Images And Words", but with a bit more guitar oriented sound and with powerful guitar riffs, sometimes in a clearly thrash influenced style (the beginning of Lie, for example...) The songs included here are: Erotomania (with the best guitar solo of the album), Voices (the best long song of the album), The Mirror (not very catchy song...), Lie (great rythm keyboards here, a good song...), Scarred (this songs makes this album a little repetitive, because it's very similar of all the other long songs...) and Space-Dye Vest (just a little boring song, sung by Kevin Moore, but it's a good closing of the album...)

Excellent work, but it's not a masterpiece in my opinion because it's a little repetitive sometimes (Voices, The Mirror, Lie and Scarred are too much similar songs...) and it has some weak moments (some parts of The Mirror and Scarred...) And the commercial attempt of songs like Caught In A Web and Innocence Faded it's a little questionable, although there are great tracks in my opinion...

Report this review (#46662)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars To a lot of die hard DT fans, such as myself, Awake is credited as being an edgier version of Images and Words with perhaps JLB's best vocal performance. Even though this is one of DT's best it will take some repeated listens. The high production value on this album gives it a crisp sound that seems to never be outdated, like Images and Words. So pick this one up and listen to it many, many times.
Report this review (#46876)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dream Theater - Awake.

I picked this album up at my local HMV 'cause I had been recommended Dream Theater. When I got home, I also got out my burnt copy of "Train of Thought".

Listening to Train of Thought first, it was a bit too heavy for me at that point, and a lot of the songs sounded a bit too metal for me, not enough the original spin of "Awake" was off thrown for me.

A second time in my dad's truck, I saw the true masterpiece of Awake. Opening song isn't great in my opinion, seems a bit thrown together, but the following songs are great. It also hooked my dad...who doesn't even like progressive music.

John Petrucci's solo's are amazing, and James LaBrie's vocals are as great as his lyrics are cryptic...(damned good!).

The only downfall for the album in my opinion is the opening track...and I didn't much like the video for "Lie" either.

A bit of a heavier edge for Dream Theater's earlier works, but still very good. I would recommend it for fans of "Falling Into Infinity" or "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" more than "Scenes from a Memory" fans.

All in all, I give the album 4/5. Not because I don't like the album, but because I know Dream Theater has better works than this. A great collection to your progressive collection, but not outstanding like some great progressive albums...

Best Tracks: Erotomania/Voices, and Space-Dye Vest

Report this review (#50743)
Posted Saturday, October 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Follow up to Images and Words and as it turned out, original keyboardist Kevin Moore's last album with the band. There is a much heavier guitar oriented sound, with Petrucci flexing his creative muscles and exerting a much bigger influence on proceedings. (I haven't read anything to suggest this, but I'm thinking this was the reason Moore left the band soon after). In my opinion Moore's influence is sorely missed in later albums.

The three part "A Mind by Itself" is a highlight, the suite comprises Erotomania, Voices & The Silent man. Not all the tracks work though with just too much heavy metal riffage. The Mirror and Lie are full of crunchy riffs and work well if you are in that kind of mood, but they overdose on Scarred. If you prefer your prog less heavy them be wary.

Report this review (#53494)
Posted Wednesday, October 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Forget everything you knew from Images and Words, Awake, released only 2 years later, is a totally different animal. The band stripped themselves of most of their 80's-ness, and delved deeper into Prog-Metal territory than before. Before the writing of this album, John Petrucci discovered the 7 String Universe Guitar used by his idol Steve Vai and that instrument played a big role in making Awake a darker, more muscular release than their previous.

The album starts off with 6:00: a fairly good tune, though a bit odd to start the album off with this one, it really showcases the bands new songwriting chops built up from 2 years of touring for I&W.

Caught In a Web: This song get's the blood flowing right away, with a big 7-string riff and keyboard melody. A pretty heavy tune, Labrie get's all sneery on this one, but don't let that scare you away, it's pretty straightforward with a little instrumental section in the middle. Cool outro too.

Innocence Faded: I'm not too keen on this one, maybe it reminds me too much of I&W. It's poppy chiming sound seems out of place with the rest of the darker fare surrounding it.

Erotomania/Voices/The Silent Man: This is supposed to be a suite or trilogy of music. The musical themes don't exactly repeat themselves, but the seem to flow pretty well. Erotomania remains a fan favorite instrumental, and it's fantastic, with an almost ADD quality to the time and theme changes. Nice keyboard sounds on this one as well. Voices is a dark track, with a very cool bass intro and tortured lyrics, definately an album highlight. The Silent Man is the lone acoustic track, but it fits well with the surrounding songs. A careful listener will be able to hear a melody from Erotomania repeated in this song, something the band would exploit in further releases.

The Mirror/Lie: Awesome, heavy, head stomping intro. Easily the darkest and chunkiest song on the album, with insightful lyrics. I especially like Portnoy's background vocals. Lie ended up with some airplay, and it's easy to see why, great riffs, catchy melody and a burnin solo by Mr. Petrucci, another album highlight.

Lifting Shadows Off a Dream: A great John Myung composition, who's tasteful use of Bass harmonics makes it a real treat. Chorused and delayed guitar further adds to the beauty of the track, and it helps balance the album out nicely.

Scarred starts out with a cool bass-chord theme and quickly falls apart, in my opinion, this should have been left off the album. Do yourself a favor and skip it.

Space Dye-Vest is pretty different compared to everything else. It's quite good, but the lyrics fall flat near the end. The band really had little to do with it as it's a Kevin Moore composition, hence the programmed drums, which sound a little out of place.

Overall, a great album, not perfect but not really lacking like it's predecessor, well worth the purchase price!

Report this review (#55418)
Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#61976)
Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Follow-up to the spectacular Images and Words should leave no fan disappointed.

Awake is Dream Theater's third release, but it is quite underrated. The follow-up the very recieved and gold-selling Images and Words, I don't believe this album gets quite the credit it deserves.

The album is quite different from Images and Words. The most noticeable difference is that the atmosphere is much colder. John Petrucci is also more pronounced as a soloist. Kevin Moore's role has diminished a little as he left the band after this album. Moore has some fine spots on this album including the wonderfully arranged Space Dye Vest finale. Awake's emotions are very dark and cold and this song is very representative of that. John Myung first picked up his now trademark Six-String bass, and the difference shows. Myung's lines are definately a step up from Images and Words, much more melodic. LaBrie also changes up the vocals quite a bit adding a bit more variation to his style.

The prime song of this album is the three-track epic, A Mind Besides Itself (Erotomania, Voices, and The Silent Man). The song's concept is one of god and divine prescence and the search for it within oneself. The song has a little of everything, variat moods, technical brilliance, and emotion.

Production on this album is a step up too. Mike Portnoy's drums are much clearer and more powerful. Myung's bass tone is the best it's ever been past or future. The guitars from Petrucci and the keyboards from Moore are just as good if not a litlle better than they were on Images and Words. All in all a very clear and defined production.

Report this review (#62427)
Posted Friday, December 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a great album, one of their best. Petrucci demonstrates his immense prowess and his solos and licks add a dynamic twist to the band, unlike lots of other prog I listen to. He doesn't deliver the message in one chord just because it will work, he does it in 30 fast notes because he can.

Pick this one up, definitely a classic, its only $8.99 CAD. I wouldn't consider it a masterpeice, because the drumming and bass are missing something in songs such as The Mirror and Lie (Lie contains probably some of Petruccis greatest solos), still good songs nevertheless.

Report this review (#64071)
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars one year after the masterpiece 'images and words-one of the best albums ever-dream theater gave us this album.well here dt are trying to create an album like 'images and words'.there are great songs and the players are fantastic but the whole thing is kind of boring sometimes,unless you are a big fan.if you are not,prefer 'images and words'...
Report this review (#65549)
Posted Thursday, January 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars A fantastic follow up to "Images and Words".

The guitar work and drumming style have definately improved with Dream Theatre and is upon my favourite Dream Theatre album, I found 'Awake' more aggressive and metallic compared to the previous albums they made!!!!

They really skillful and talented in my own opinion and are definetaly better than ever before!!. "6 o'clock" is the opener and I enjoyed it throughout, my favourite Awake track!!!,very 80s progressive sounding (ahhh neo is the word I'm looking for!!) wand is awashed with keyboards and nice modern drum technique, 5/5.

"Erotomania" is another good track but not my favourite though it has a nice atmospheric sound to it, scores a resonable 4/5!!!

"Silent man" and "Voice" are other good tracks "Silent Man" was fairly a relaxing song with nice guitars, bass and keyboard sounds and "Voice" closed with nice acoustic sound, 5/5 for both!!

"Lifting Shadows Off a Dream" the intro of "Lifting Shadows Off a Dream" has very good keyboard playing in it and is a great track to listen too!!! 4/5!!!

"Scarred" opens with a percussion sound of cymbal, next comes a excellent lead guitar solo and lush drumming,excellent musicianship skillfully played on this track 5/5!!!.

"Space-Dye Vest". It has a very nice piano intro and touchy melody! Try this track first before you try any other track

"Innocence faded" oh no a ballad nevermind, sang very gentler than other track sang by LaBrie, and is unfortunately my least favourite 2/5!!

A fanntasic follow up to the previous Albums and is highly recommended, 92%!!

Report this review (#66698)
Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is THE record that has been playing in my stereos for years. I haven't found anything like it all this time. So, I could say that this is THE album of my all-time favorites. And by the way, Images & Words get's the second place, absolutely.

Now, let me describe the album shortly, because there isn't much to say about it. Well of course I could praise this album for the whole day but I won't, because words aren't enough to describe how magnificent the music is on this album.

The album starts and kicks off with an incredible kickass-song called 6:00. The atmosphere goes to top right from the beginning and the feeling stays and rises to maximum with the brilliant instrumental Erotomania. The feeling is still undiscribable in the song Voices. By the end of the song you can calm your self down of the ecstasy that you just got from the music. The Silent Man is a calm and beautiful song which prepares you for another heavenly section. By the time The Mirror is playing, you're in heaven again. That heavenly feeling doesn't stop until the album ends with a sad song, Space-Dye Vest.

So, the album is just perfect, and better than perfect, right from the beginning to the end. I don't need any alcohol or drugs to get high; I just listen to this album and I'm higher than I could ever be. After all these years, I still can't find the right words to describe this record. This is THE album of my favorites, and it will always be...

Report this review (#67634)
Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Really a masterpiece of progressive rock music!

With this album I had my first contact with this great band, the Dream Theater. It could not have been better. Okay, some people can say that this album does not have the musical matureness of others albuns of the band, as "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" (a great one too), but "Awake" is my favorite one.

All the tracks are in one same line of quality, at any moment the album becomes boring.

With well characteristics musics of the Dream Theater, stuffed of gummy and wonderful chorus, drums to take off the breath, competent and creative basses, very beatifull and sentimental passages of keyboard, PERFECTS vocal lines (and so well interpreted) and, to finish, the guitars, that i will only say, JOHN PETRUCCI.

A very good production, the perfect "coloured" instruments can show you this.

If you don't know about Dream Theater, or don't have this album, only buy this. =D


Report this review (#70653)
Posted Monday, February 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the follower of the masterpiece "Images and words" and I must say thhis is not so far of being as good as "Images...", but it's a bit different. First of all, there's not that drum sound characteristic of "Images..." (I don't have problems with that sound). Also, the keyboards do not stand out as much as on the previous album (there aren't almost keyboard solos). Petrucci stills being an amazing guitarist, doing excellent and renovator solos, in difference of many metal guitar players. And here are more accesible songs as "6:00", "Caught in a web" (you can play it on radio!!), "Innocence faded", "The silent man".

"6:00" is an excellent opening to this album, which has a good "square" drum intro and a rocker chorus, yeah!! "Caught in a web" is the more radiable song , I don't know why, but it makes me fell better each time I hear it. "Innocence faded" is a mid tempo song, close to be a ballad with an excellent very symphonic instrumental part at the end of the song, what surprised me a lot. The incredible instrumental "Erotomania" is maybe the best of this album (with "Voices") : starts with a rocker begginig, followed by a guitar solo, then it progress to a more metal sound, goes down with acoustic-ballad-symphonic transition, it turns heavier again, and here goes a classical guitar solo with growing speed, and keeps with tempo changes.... just isten to it!!!. And here goes the mid tempo song "Voices", another excellent song that starts with a super effective riff: "ta na na na na na na na na, ta...", followed by a quieter piano part, and explodes with the nice chorus. After the second chorus it goes down again with a "Floydian" part with atmospheric keyboards, and then goes surely on of the best Petrucci's solos ever (yeah man, it rocks!!) This track has also nice vocal melodies... you have to listen this one!!! The album calms down with the more personal acoustic "The silent man", just good... So here has to be a marked difference between the most calm and the most heavy and dark song of the album: "The mirror", here I have to say there is an excellent intro, just listen, there is just one note and it makes you super-headbang your head!!!! This song goes joined with "Lie", another very heavy song featuring excellent guitar solos by Mr. Petrucci. From here to the end the album falls a little with "Lifting shadows off a dream", followed by the very proggy "Scarred" (in "Once in a livetime" it's done much better, with (again) a "Floydian" guitar solo at the begginig). And finishes with the nice psychedelic song "Space-Dye Vest"....just fly.............

Overall, it's an excellent addition in your discography and an excellent Dream Theater album. I recommend this!!

Report this review (#72093)
Posted Thursday, March 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I bought this CD almost a week ago, and have listened to it at least 20 times since then. I did so on the reccomendation of a dear friend of mine who, ironically, I have just gotten into prog. He's since become a fan of bands like Opeth, Nightwish and Queensryche, and based on the reviews he read here on the site, bought AWAKE and fell in love with it. I was skeptical, honestly. I knew they had a different keyboardist at the time (Kevin Moore), and I was concerned as to how he'd fit in with the other four members.

Clearly, my concerns were unfounded. He's a brilliant musician and a class songwriter in his own right, though, like Petrucci, he's best in a group setting. That out of the way, what's great about this record? A lot.

1) PETRUCCI is an absolutely wicked guitarist and plays himself into a lather, whether he's hammering away on a power-chord rhythm part ("CAUGHT IN A WEB") or firing up his tapping fingers or the wah-drenched leads that figure in that song or "LIE " (side note: The tapped intro to his lead track on "LIE" left me gasping for breath.). But he's not all about hammer-ons and heavy distortion. The man's a softie at heart. Need proof? Check out "THE SILENT MAN". Argue all you want, but if you don't become emotional during its near 4-minute running time, you simply have no heart. That, my friends, is the bottom line.

2) I must also note that MOORE pulls his weight as well, whether he's jammin' out on the Hammond, or playing those soaring string synths, as he does on the outro of "CAUGHT IN A WEB". I will make note of a problem here. During the midsection of "INNOCENCE FADED", when LaBrie starts to soar, Moore plays a melody that sounds oddly like "LITTLE LIES" from Fleetwood Mac! Whoa! It was a bit irritating, to be blunt. He is, however, a great writer, nonetheless and "SPACE-DYE VEST" makes that clear. The lyrics are rather deep, but I DO believe it's a love song of some sort (sample lyric: I saw the future dressed as a stranger/Love in a space-dye vest). I AM still, though, trying to figure out what the hell "Falling through pages of Martens on angels" means.

3) PORTNOY doesn't put a foot wrong either, and makes clear his debt to the classic prog drummers of yore (Collins, Peart, Portnoy, Palmer, White, Bruford, etc.) His playing is on the money and full of feeling, even if he's playing those punishing double- kick rolls he's so fond of doing, as at the end of "INNOCENCE FADED". (Note: If you, the reader, are wondering why I'm making such a fuss over "INNOCENCE FADED", it's because it had a heavy emotional impact on me).

LABRIE is AMAZING here, I gotta say. His voice actually has a tear-jerking effect on me, as in "INNOCENCE FADED". I don't mind telling you, the reader, that I actually cried when I heard him sing this's that damn good. At about 1:55 in the song, he starts for the upper reaches of his register, and at 2:11 ("Wearing apathetic displays...Condescending; not intending to end...."), he pulls out ALL the stops. It's at this point that I find myself reaching for the rewing button on my CD player; it's SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good. I've only heard 3 of Dream Theater's releases ("OCTAVARIUM", "TRAIN OF THOUGHT", and this one), but I'm inclined to believe this is a personal vocal high point (literally and figuratively). Is it any wonder that, in the acknowledgement page, he's sings the praises of his opera coach?

5) Myung plays like a madman too, when I can hear him. Quite the affable guy; makes me wonder if he minds being buried in a guitar-and-keyboard heavy mix. He's also quite the lyricist, though seemingly less cerebral than, say, PETRUCCI or MOORE. His lyrics to "LIFTING SHADOWS OFF A DREAM" sound like a paean to love: his wife/girlfriend/significant other, perhaps? Whatever; they're gorgeous. His playing is technically precise but full of feeling. I can hear him in bits and pieces on "INNOCENCE FADED", "EROTOMANIA", "6:00", "LIFTING SHADOWS OFF A DREAM", "SCARRED", and parts of "SPACE-DYE VEST".

Now...the part in which I have to mention the problems I found. Here goes. For one, Myung gets (for the most part) buried in a treble-heavy mix which seems to favor the high end of Petrucci's guitar and Moore's keys. Following that thread, then...Portnoy's kick drums are also muted, to an extent, favoring more of the cymbals and snare. I can barely hear the hi-hat most of the time, which bugs me. Mind you, Duane Baron and John Purdell are wonderful producers (Proof? "DESIRE WALKS ON" from Heart...pick it up and argue at length with me), but they dropped the ball here. There's WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY ytoo much treble here in the mix, and it REALLY bothers me. And I won't mention the irritating vocal samples (the midsection of "VOICES", the intro to "6:00"...pardon my blagging, but who the hell is Mary Jane?) I gotta bring up something else I noticed, and this was right off the bat. Right around 6:22 into "EROTOMANIA", the group pulls a bait-and-switch tactic, going from a brilliant instrumental into another song. Wouldn't be such a problem were it not for the fact that "THE TREES" was already written 16 years hence. I literally had to check my CD player to make sure it was still the same CD. It's an unsubtle trick that actually pissed me off.

Aside from the (IMO) problems, it's still a great disc, and a solid 4-star CD, much like "OCTAVARIUM". And, as I said in my review of "TRAIN OF THOUGHT", I suppose one coudl do worse.

Report this review (#72494)
Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After a successful run with Images & Words, Dream Theater returned to the studio and created what is known as Awake. Some revere it as their crowning achievement. Me? I think it's okay, but nowhere near their best. There are some very inventive tracks (A Mind Beside Itself/The Mirror/Space-Dye Vest), but they are marred by some weaker songs (Innocence Faded/6:00/Scarred). Petrucci, Myung, Portnoy, and Moore sound as tight as ever, and the music they created on the album is superb. LaBrie gives this album his all, but during some songs he really lets go and just wails and wails away.

6:00 opens the album, and it is one of the weaker songs on the album. I like the samples and the drum patterns in this song, but the lyrics are a tad too overdone and the vocals are a little too overblown for my taste. Caught in a Web is the first song on a Dream Theater record to feature Petrucci and his 7-string guitar antics. This song is really strong, with some nice keyboard touches by Moore. My only complaint with the song is the section towards the end where LaBrie is just screaming and not trying to sing melodically. The worst song on the album is Innocence Faded, it doesn't even feel like Dream Theater, but more like some 80's hair metal fiasco of a band.

A Mind Beside itself is the first Dream Theater multi-piece epic. The distorted organ intro to Erotomania only gives a warning of whats to come. This is power metal to the max. The reason this song was created was because they wanted to make one of those "instrumentals to end all instrumentals" and pull out all the stops. It segues into Voices, which is one of the strongest tracks on the album. Strong lyrics, strong vocals, and strong musicianship only prove the great things that Dream Theater would create in the future. The Silent Man is the acoustic finale to A Mind Beside Itself. It's a strong acoustic track, but it's better represented on Live Scenes From New York.

The Mirror/Lie is another two parter that show Petrucci's musical prowess on the 7- string. The Mirror is essentially a prequel to the "Glass Prison/This Dying Soul/The Root of All Evil" series with lyrics in regard to Portnoy's problems and struggles with alcohol. It segues into Lie, which is one of the singles on the album. It's has a nice riff and some very cool lyrics from Moore. Lifting Shadows Off a Dream is Myung's lyrical contribution of the album, it's a nice mellow piece that has some soothing vocals from LaBrie. Scarred is the epic of the album, and it's probably the weakest epic Dream Theater has done (next to Honor Thy Father), a pretty bland rhythm and melody is augmented with pretty weak lyrics and vocals. Space-Dye Vest is Moore's final lyrical contribution with Dream Theater, and he really leaves with a high note. This dreary and very industrial sounding song is one of my favorites. Some simple piano followed by a very restrained approach from Petrucci and Portnoy and some more soothing vocal from Labrie finish out this album.

Overall, this is the one of the last Dream Theater albums I recommend you check out. A Change of Seasons is the follower, and it's a tad weaker than this (because I think the song is better represented live). Anyway, I like this album, but not a whole lot, it's one I always listen to reluctantly, but some Dream Theater fans will say otherwise. 3/5.

Report this review (#72519)
Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of DT's best albums (but then, they're all good in their own ways.) Darker and edgier than their previous efforts, AWAKE seems to do away I&W's lighter stylings in favor of a more Metal approach. It's still Proggy, but more radio-friendly (at least, for those who like Metal). This an amazing album and remains one of the best Prog-Metal releases to date.

-6:00: Kind of a strange track, riddled with odd time signatures, complex instrument work and howling vocals. Great song. Nice intro by Mike Portnoy.

-Caught in a Web: A heavy, catchy song with some tribal influences. A real foot-stomper.

-Innocence Faded: Not a huge fan of this song, but it's still a great tune and the lyrics by John Petrucci are especially well-written.

-Erotomania: A complex instrumental that ranges from a sort of crawling, spider-y kind of sound to one of pure epicness.

-Voices: A favorite among fans. Great lyrics, great writing, great guitar solo. Great everything.

-The Slient Man: An amazing aucoustic-driven song. JLB & JP work really well together on this song and the miniature guitar solo works perfectly.

-The Mirror: A dark, foreboding song that utilizes haunting keyboard sounds, heavy, chugging guitars and just some generally extreme riffage all around. Great song, and I love how it leads into Lie so perfectly.

-Lie: A great, radio-friendly, guitar-driven song with yet another amazing guitar solo by Petrucci. Good stuff.

-Lifting Shadows off a Dream: A wonderful song with soaring keyboards, thoughtful guitar work and amazing lyrics.

-Scarred: Another great song with some excellent instrument work all around. James' occassionally screaming vocals work really well here.

-Space-Dye Vest: One of DT's only well-known songs that has yet to be played in-concert due to Kevin Moore's departure. Thoughtful, introspective and a great song to listen to when driving alone at night (hell this whole CD is great to listen to when driving alone at night or early in the morning when it's still dark out.)

Overall, one of my favorite CDs. If you haven't heard it yet, make sure you do.

Report this review (#73978)
Posted Monday, April 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The biggest obstacle to very accomplished musicians is writing songs that both show off their ability to smoke on their instruments as well as be memorable and listenable. For the most part, Dream Theatre (yeah, I know it's spelled "Theater", but the American spelling is silly) proves throughout Awake that they have all sorts of skill at their instruments, but aren't going to let good songs get in the way of things. A far cry from the Rush worship of their debut When Dream and Day Unite, Awake tends to put me right to sleep. To get an example of why this band is just so pompous, take a look at the opening track "6:00". The melody is somewhat catchy, but in the middle of the song, the band breaks into a very pompous solo section that does not fit the flow of the song at all. While you will hear some parts that are very well done, like the acoustic part in "The Silent Man", it's a strain to sit through the moments where they must be technically proficient. I'll just go back to bed, thanks.This album is much darker than Images and Words. The production is much crisper and colder and it sounds like the drummer, Mike Portnoy, finally got a chance to show what his drums really sound like. (Much of the drumming on Images was sent through an overly complex, un-dynamic triggering production process which eliminates any ability to convey softer/harder drum interaction. Portnoy was probably not happy.) The "Erotomania" track on the "Mind Beside Itself" trilogy (yes, very pompous and art-rocky, so what?) is a pretty nice instrumental, and "Lifting Shadows Off a Dream" is a nice, moody number reminiscent of U2. The album, however, isn't quite as fun as Images and Words, even if it surpasses Images at times. There are also hard and heavy grooves to be found, such as "The Mirror" and "Caught In a Web". This album's dark, electronic sound makes it somewhat more groundbreaking than its studio predecessor; however, there's nothing radically trailblazing here, just some good prog-metal songwriting and production. As long as you know what to expect, you won't be too disappointed (provided you have some liking of the genre).
Report this review (#74993)
Posted Saturday, April 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars In my opinion, "Awake" is easily Dream Theater's best work to date. The album displays the band's remarkable growth in the space of just two years that separate it from the cheesy power-prog of "Images and Words". "Awake" is ambitious, sophisticated and creative, more so than any other effort from DT. The compositions are much more complex and challenging, which does not, however, prevent them from being truly catchy. The album is also among DT's heaviest, courtesy of John Petrucci and his 7-string guitars, but due to the quality of the riffs and a healthy amount of keyboards, it never collapses into meaningless thrash, such as in "Train of Thought". Speaking of Petrucci, the guitar solos featured here are among his strongest: while practically all of them include a generous portion of shredding, he keeps things interesting by employing various scales and key shifts. He also uses plenty of chromaticism in his riffing , which sometimes gives the music an atonal quality. Meanwhile, James LaBrie adjusts to the heaviness by adding a considerable rasp to his normally clean voice, with generally convincing results. The lyrics are quite imaginative as well, something rarely found in their recent works.

The album's highlight is the three-part suite "A Mind Beside Itself", comprised of "Erotomania", "Voices" and "The Silent Man" (tracks 4-6). "Erotomania", an instrumental", kicks off with heavy, dissonant organ, quickly taken over by interesting guitar riffs; the band proceeds to tackle an impressive number of excellent, varied sections in what may well be their finest studio moment ever - along with "Voices", that is. The latter moves between haunting ambience and powerful thrash metal, tied together by a killer chorus. The finale, "The Silent Man", is a gentle, well-crafted ballad that re-enacts themes from "Erotomania".

Among other standouts is the "Mirror", the heaviest and darkest track on the album with jackhammer-like guitar chugging and powerful keyboards; it segues into "Lie", which consists mostly of blues rock riffs and Petrucci's technical demonstrations. "Lifting Shadows off a Dream" is quite different: except for the short instrumental bridge, it's a hook-laden pop song, but quite a haunting one, too. Its true strength lies in the atmospheric synths and guitar harmonics, and I find myself enjoying it a lot - more than "Scarred", in fact, which eventually grows a bit stale with its length of 11 minutes. The first three songs are relatively short, and therefore more effective, "Innocence Faded" being another of the album's strong points. The closing track is an interesting, if somewhat unfitting, addition to the album - that's Kevin Moore's personal composition, "Space-Dye Vest", a simple, emotional tune which could've actually made a hit single. I don't see it as being among the band's strongest creations, but I do enjoy it every now and then.

All in All, Dream Theater's finest hour. I'm not a DT fanboy, but I do recommend "Awake" to anyone with an open mind ;)

Report this review (#76773)
Posted Monday, May 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is the most exciting I've ever heard.

It's simply amazing, every song is fantastic and John Petrucci is the MONSTER of the guitar. The sound is very dark and LaBrie's performance is absolutely brilliant expecially in "Innocent Fated". Portnoy is a drum-machine and the intro of 6.00 is really good. Myung do his job and Moore is fantastic in the sad song called "Space dye vest". Buy it!

Report this review (#76953)
Posted Tuesday, May 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
5 stars In 1994 the Heavy Metal scene had taken a backseat to more stripped-down, grungy style of music called Alternative Rock or Grunge. Bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, with their politically conscious and sometimes undecipherable lyrics, ruled the radio waves with their muttering angst and 3-chord progressions. Any Heavy Metal that still existed consisted of tuned-down guitars and simplified lyrics and music in order to make the music more readily mainstream. Somewhere, underneath all of noise of Metal bands scrambling to find their new voice and once again hit the top of the charts, a band called Dream Theater would release what is arguably one of the best prog metal albums of all time. And yet only a small, close-knit, underground following of this superbly talented band would be privy to this masterpiece called "Awake". And that’s what makes it even more special.

"Awake" is the critical record from an amazing progressive metal band. In a career full of blindingly bright moments, Awake is the shining crown jewel that rises above them all. Images & Words is more influential, Train of Thought is heavier, Scenes From a Memory is the current cosmopolitan pick for their best, but none of that matters. Simply put, Awake is where Dream Theater moved away from the sometimes sophomoric excess of their first two records into a realm of maturity and glorious yet restrained performances, a realm that is heartbreakingly perfect, a realm that they seldom fully enter anymore, preferring an amalgam of the lyrical darkness of Awake with the absurdly amazing playing on Images & Words. Thus, much as I love the rest of the catalogue, they are virtually incapable of ascending to the absolute pinnacle of excellence that they achieved over a decade ago.

I tremble as I try to express how much this record has meant to me, how these songs are burned into my mind. This is prog-metal gone dark, stripped of it's silly window dressing and it's trademark excess. Awake is song writing over performance, real emotion and ideas over flights of fantasy and overblown "messages". Every performance is sharp, every note planned out and pressed into the service of the song. If you consider the maniac soloing of "Metropolis Part 1" or "This Dying Soul" distracting or overwhelming, take the time to immerse yourself in a work of grand, groundbreaking vision.

The album works on a variety of levels, from the high ground intellectualism of the lyrically challenging "Scarred" and "Voices" to the down and dirty rock'n'roll power at the heart of "6:00" and "Lie". In addition, the use of the famous recurring riff phenomena gives this album a cohesiveness and unity like no other album I can think of, save for overt concept albums like Scenes From a Memory, Operation: Mindcrime and Tommy. It's subtle, requiring many listens to discern, but soon you might find yourself theorizing about the significance of say, the keyboard melody from "Space Dye-Vest" appearing in "The Mirror". Is this symbolic of "The Mirror"'s alcoholic protagonist sliding into the delusional despairing isolation of "Space-Dye Vest", is it simply Kevin Moore sneakily adding another touch of complexity to a frightfully intelligent composition, or is it just your imagination, did you really hear what you thought you did? The recurring riff phenomena gives Awake an amazingly dream-like quality, as if these songs are just being fished out of some sort of collective unconscious, pure emotion manifested as spell-binding music.

This album marks a paradigm shift for the neo-prog movement. I am firm in the belief that without Awake many of the more cerebral modern prog acts wouldn't be around as they are today, many of them probably going in a more Symphony X -type direction. Awake addresses real concerns without being comically topical like Rush, Queensryche, and even later Dream Theater can be (see "The Great Debate"). Every song relates to a feeling or an internal conflict, as if we are being given a chance to sift through the subconscious of the members of the band, who were at a tremendous crossroads in real life too.

Thus, from Kevin Moore we get the desperate cry for freedom of "6:00", a catalytic opener with perhaps Mike Portnoy's most charmingly and jaw-droppingly self-indulgent performance, a perfect counterpoint to Moore's frenetic keyboard squawk. This (along with "Erotomania") is the link to the prog-mania of the "Ytse Jam" and "Learning to Live", a real performance piece that can truly be called energetic like almost nothing else. Despite the very real sense of a creative mind confined to mediocrity in the lyrical narrative, Kevin Moore is writing fun, hummable, almost rapped lyrics that highlight James LaBrie's new found sense of power and aggression. LaBrie chews scenery here, snapping off syllables and giving a biting edge to his high notes that seems to owe more to Sebastian Bach than any classically-inclined operatic style as employed on the previous album. Indeed, this song is the adrenaline on a measured and gloomy record, a track that incites bopping and headbanging from the opening samples, impeccably arranged until they have their own bizarre rhythm and pentameter.

Like Moore, Petrucci gives us a harrowing glimpse into his own mind, fearlessly pounding us with his self-doubt, with his religious conflicts, with the primal screams that we all sometimes would like to get out. "Caught in a Web" provides an interesting counterpoint to Moore's wanderings and desire to escape, almost as if the album mirrors the falling out between Dream Theater and Kevin Moore. On "6:00", Moore tells us that he feels hemmed in. On "Caught in a Web", Petrucci tells us that he cannot escape, as if Dream Theater has become the spiders web and Moore it's helpless prey. Appropriately then, the song is a sledgehammer, with Portnoy and Myung driving the song forward with a single-minded trudge while Petrucci and Moore, if anything, lighten the affair with a hopelessly gloomy yet still anthemic flick of the wrist.

LaBrie and Petrucci continue on in this little analogy I'm playing out in my overly analytical mind with "Innocence Faded", a very Images & Words style song about, obviously, the loss of innocence. Throughout this review you may notice I don't give much in the way of criticism towards the music (because I think most of it is just perfect), but I will say that "Innocence Faded" has a bit of pretty poor chorus. The verses are amazing, great examples of the dark side of I&W, as the keys and guitars sparkle without being uplifting; the chorus however, is simply incongruous with the rest of the song. It's like they grafted the chorus from another song onto an unfinished one. Regardless, the ride-out harmony is amazing, and it's blessed with some truly stand-out performances.

After a frenzied instrumental work-out called "Erotomania", which is incidentally one of the strongest uses of the recurring riff idea as it shares riffs with at least three other songs, Petrucci gives us a superbly poetic lament about how difficult it is to have faith sometimes. "Voices" features some truly amazing lyrics, both effecting and ambiguous while possessing a great flow and cadence (no Anthrax-style line cramming here) that give LaBrie a perfect platform to truly shine on. This is one of the prime examples of where Awake improves on I & W. On the Petrucci-penned "Under a Glass Moon" for example, the poetry is cheesy and depends to heavily on florid description. Here, Petrucci raises important questions that stick with you. "Is there fantasy in refuge/God in politicians/Should I turn on my religion/These voices in my head tell me to..." Musically, the performances are solid as ever, with special mention to Kevin Moore. Appropriate to the theme, Moore turns in a gothic, cathedral like tone that is unique in the DT canon (perhaps the ride out in "Finally Free"). Rather than lose the focus of the story Petrucci is trying to tell with showboating and key'n'strings duels, he adds texture and flavour throughout, adding to the chilly atmosphere permeating the track. "Voices" is an epic that remains committed to song writing, the crazed and eventful break occurring at a logical point in the song and following an amazingly well-chosen cameo by a rap artist who adds an extra degree of credibility as Petrucci gradually ramps up the intensity underneath. Other than "Scarred", I feel "Voices" is James LaBrie’s finest hour, as he displays an incredibly amount of shade in his tonality and impeccably well- chosen phrasing. In fact, the only improvement that could possibly be made to the performance occurs on Once in a LIVEtime, where James actually manages to inject more feeling and emotion into the final charge that leads into "The Silent Man".

Speaking of that very song, "The Silent Man" is a perfect example of how versatile Dream Theater has become. It's inspiring and up-lifting acoustic song-writing, and that nifty little solo towards the end of the song would fit on a far more mainstream record than this. I love this song for it's simplicity, just James and John on the guitar without any accompaniment (there may be a hint of keys towards the end to give that escalating sensation), and the Live Scenes From New York version actually angers me because in adding electricity and making it a full band piece, the subtlety and magic is gone. However, on the album there is nothing but pure perfection, even down to the excellent backing vocals contributed by one of the producers. Lyrically, this song is also about faith and familial relationships, like the calm denouement of an older man looking back at the passion of his confused youth ("Voices"). However, it is only a brief respite.

Mike Portnoy's contribution to Awake is pure sledge, a love letter to Pantera that is earthshakingly heavy. This isn't heavy for prog, this is undeniably heavy. The guitars are a distorted, face-melting, force of nature like virtually nothing else. The pounding rhythm and crushingly heavy guitar give added support to Portnoy's anguished tale of despair and self-loathing, an autobiographical account of an alcoholic trying to drag himself out of the hole that he finds himself in. This song is mean, sullen, uncommunicative and absolutely spine-crushing. I'll never forget watching this song explode live, heavy beyond heavy on a night when the band played the entire Train of Thought album, possibly the heaviest prog album ever made. "The Mirror" stomped all over it. Special mention to the high (but not sweetening) keyboard work that gives what you think is a slight respite from the stomp before you realize that it is subtly warped and disturbing, more of the cathedral-style dramatics that bolden and only add to the seriousness and class of the record. And then, just as the song seems to be grinding to a halt..."LIE"!

I remember listening to this album for the first time and practically jumping at the abrupt change of gears into this loping crunch-fest. This is Moore's second contribution to the album, and it is similar to "6:00" in that it employs a deceptively swinging vocal melody that sheds more light on his disenfranchisement and growing paranoia (at least, as far Awake being a narrative in my own mind). "Lie" just plains rocks, with a hip-shakin' and headbangin' beat that leads to a real crowd pleasing chorus. Plus, "Lie" features by far and away the most badass rendition of a nursery rhyme ever (sorry "Enter Sandman"), James having fun being bad with the effortlessly memorable lyrics. Recurring riff phenom strikes once again, as we suddenly plunge back into a complex and daring reprise of "The Mirror" which allows the band to flex it's considerable musical chops.

After that two song assault on the senses, another breather is needed, which comes in the form of John Myung's spacey and elegant "Lifting Shadows Off a Dream". The bass in this one is terrific, very melodic and mercurial as with other Myung comps like "Trial of Tears" and "Learning to Live", Portnoy doing some nice almost Simon Phillips-like light touch stuff, Petrucci and Moore adding colour, shimmer, and vibrancy wherever their enchanted music works it's way in. This song is very much about transformation and love, perhaps offering a chance at a metamorphosis for Moore (which, leaving and forming ChromaKey, he took). Regardless, LaBrie is heartfelt and moving, and the harmonizing and gradual uplift on this song is sublime. This is the sound of true art, of a genius that few bands truly possess; something that Dream Theater seems content to toss off as if it's no big thing.

The hardworking, kitchen-sink epic of Awake is "Scarred". It is of comparable length and placement (second last rather than last) to the hardworking, kitchen-sink epic on Images & Words, that being of course "Learning to Live". The difference is that on that record there were no less than five hardworking, kitchen-sink epics ("Pull Me Under", "Take the Time", "Metropolis", "Under a Glass Moon", and "Learning to Live"), and just like "Learning to Live" represents Images & Words, with it's over the top chopperiffic craziness, so "Scarred" is an avatar of the Awake record as a whole, a song of considerable heft and density possessed with a steely-eyed drive and an amazing amount of intelligence.

I consider "Scarred" to be John Petrucci's greatest song-writing accomplishment, the lyrics perfectly emoting the mental scars we all carry through our lies, a grating cry for help that goes unanswered. James LaBrie is amazing in his best performance ever and John Petrucci goes beyond the call with several unbelievable solos, the first being a bit of jazzy genre-bending cool, the second being a high-pitched noodler, and then and out and out note-dense shredder over a mid-paced beat. The song is more active and communicative than the unapproachable and majestic "Voices", especially on it's technically astounding break that gives us the only taste of the duelling that dominates Images and SFAM. The chorus is the only commercial part in the song (it's not quite "You Not Me" though), but it fits in perfectly with the rest, as if the verses are his psychotic ramblings and only on the chorus does he manage to clear his head.

Finally, Moore closes the album with a sombre, introspective piano-only piece. It's an intriguing melody, and there's something hypnotic and tragic about the way Moore mingles the two main piano "riffs" throughout the song. It's a song about growing increasingly alienated from the world, a man who has become obsessed with the models in fashion catalogues to the exclusion of having real, meaningful relationships. On another level, it is Moore's greatest expression of creative freedom on Awake, and yet it is strangely burnt out and smothered, as if it is the aural equivalent of his deadened nerves as he grows catatonic. It is dreamy and only half-awake, best enjoyed when in a dark mood or about to head into sleep. Because it is so stark and centered on one instrument, every move counts, the way he pauses before hitting a certain key, or the way he adds in little transitory fills to move into a new vocal melody becomes a captivating experience. James is both worn and fresh in his vocal delivery, and when the whole band comes in to help drive the song to it's inevitable doom it is every bit as fine and grand an ending as any other in the DT catalogue, more so even because it is so antithetical to the huge anthemic closes of "Learning to Live", "A Change of Seasons", "Grand Finale", and "Trial of Tears".

Kevin Moore left Dream Theater because he was bored and frustrated with the way the band was putting performances ahead of song writing. It is odd then that he left after the record that fits that statement the least of any in their discography, the one most obviously bearing the imprint of his unique style.

Do yourself a favour. Buy Awake, and study it hard. It is beside SFAM the most challenging record Dream Theater has released yet. It is also the greatest prog-metal album, prog-rock album even of the mid 90's.

album rating: 10/10 points = 99 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Report this review (#78066)
Posted Saturday, May 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the rising success that IMAGES AND WORDS brought the master of prog metal they once again embrace us with their third tour de france...AWAKE. Now i've been a true Dream Theater fan through and through in fact i love about ever single album (including falling into infinity) and its strange how the sound of Dream Theater has somewhat changed and not changed over the years. But you still get the greatness from this band and that's you receive in this album. Its not quite as good as I & W by a hair but AWAKE is still a great album as this album gives us the heavier side of dream theater as they escape the keyboard driven sound from the last two albums and go into a more guitar drivin sound for some very great heavy, yet dark sounds. However don't let that fool ya as DT is still able to pull on the stops by bringing in a few other things from past albums as well in AWAKE. Well lets start off the great rocker 6:00 as it starts off with a nice Drum intro by MIKEY P. and then the band joins in into a nice progressive metal jam song. This song is very very groovey the guitar, drums, bass, and keyboard make up for it big time. Its still hard for me to say of who is doing the solo is PETRUCCI or MOORE?? then we go into CAUGHT INTO A WEB a very nice heavy metal rocker with a cool nice keyboard effect in the background. the guitar and drums are great and James Labrie showcases that this guy can wail. But then comes INNOCENCE FADED and even though it has a more AOR/ poppy feel it still is a wonderful track in fact i think its very catchy especially the chorus, outrageous vocals by James Labrie once again AND I DO MEAN OUTRAGEOUS nice guitar solo to finish the song. Then the meat of the album really starts to come in as we have the Epic sliced track of A MIND BESIDE MYSELF starting with one of my favorite instrumentals EROTOMANIA very crazy song as it has some flow here with some heaviness, melodic, and crazy time signatures here and there. then comes the mini epic VOICES a 9 minute song of greatness with a whole lot of lyrics (nice lyrics by the way) and GAH what other note can JAMES LABRIE not hit this guy is a machine plus a very cool improvised solo by PETRUCCI. then it all ends with the very lucious and oh so sweet THE SILENT MAN very nice song a good break in the album just to clam things down. THen comes more METAL GRRRRRRRR with THE MIRROR the first song written by MIKE PORTNOY where you have such great riffs and outstanding team work by the band then it automatically changes to LIE another great METAL song with a crazy guitar solo not much from Keyboards here by MOORE (big sign here) plus what's cool is after LIE gets over it goes back to a riff similar to THE MIRROR with a cool guitar effect solo. Then the album cools down again with LIFTING SHADOWS OFF A DREAM one of my favorite DT mellow songs this song is just so pretty very MARILLION-esque which is a big plus for me cause i just love the way Dream Theater can explore all styles within them selves. Then comes another big epic the 11 minute SCARRED this song kinda goes back in the PROG JAM mode to what 6:00 and EROTOMANIA sound like along with a few new things like a nice jazz intro by MIKE AND JOHN M. with a cool sustain guitar solo. But what really gives me goosebumps is the end where the band is just going crazy while MOORE really backs things up with a nice background effect. All these songs are great except for SPACE-DYE VEST i've heard people say its great i'm sorry but this song sounds way too depressing i mean it had it moments but then it just gets boring for me i'm sorry but if this song was not on this album then it would be a masterpiece but either than that great prog album by the prog metal masters known as DREAM THEATER!!!!!!
Report this review (#78185)
Posted Sunday, May 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars After I had discovered DT when they released "Images&Words" I was desperate to get hold of "Awake" when it was released in -94. I was totally blown away after the first listenings and it even peaked "Images &Words" at the time (not anymore though). The album is much more dark and heavy than IW...and the album finishes off perfectly with the magical "Space-Dye vest", an odd but fantastic song! Other favorites are "The Mirror", "Scarred" and "Lifting shadows of a dream"
Report this review (#78459)
Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Awake

Dream Theater's third studio album, released in 1994 and is sadly, becomes the last album recorded with an amazing keyboard player, Kevin Moore. Awake is pretty much has the same concept and characteristic with the previous album, Images And Words, very progressive and metal. For me, its not my favorite and I think it is not as great as Images And Words, in terms of musical composition and lyrics.

Now let's take a look at each song.

6.00 This song is not my favorite in this album nor in all Dream Theater songs, because of James LaBrie's vocal and personally I think the song is lack of feeling and technique. This is very important considering 6.00 is an opening song which can determine the rest of the songs in the album, but for me, a true Dream Theater fan, I have listened to the rest of the songs and they are great!

Caught In A Web This song is much better than 6.00, consist of heavy guitar and keyboard riffs creating metal ambiences throughout the song, which is very Dream Theater. Moreover, when it hits the chorus, the ambience changes to rock - pop style, "caught in a web, removed from the world." However, once again, LaBrie's vocal in the second verse is not very good, just like in 6.00.

Innocence Faded This song is more like rock - pop ballad, just by listening to the intro, mellow and beautiful guitar riff. In the first verse, the style is also very rockish rather than metal. Once again, (uhh!!) is its very sad to say that LaBrie sang not very beautifully, except for the chorus, he was like screaming out of his range.

Erotomania Is actually the first part of A Mind Behind Itself, which is an instrumental section. The intro rhythm section was also used in A Change Of Season, added with practice-like guitar riff, and this is the most song played when I practice guitar! Anyway, the song is very great and very progressive metal with odd time signature throughout the song. The guitar solo is more like Yngwie's classical style with truly fast guitar licks, but still, John Petrucci played very cleanly.

Voices The second part of A Mind Behind Itself, Voices has very complicated and mixed style of music. Started with not-so-metal intro and followed by very metal elements of the song. The coolest part is John Petrucci's guitar solo, and just like I said on every Dream Theater's album reviews, John Petrucci always presents technical guitar solo with a deep feeling in it. In this song, James LaBrie still sings not very good.

Silent Man Another mellow song just using guitar rhythm and vocal. At last! James LaBrie sang very beautifully in this song, probably because he didn't need to scream to create metal elements. Its really awesome, how a combination of simple guitar rhythm and low pitches vocal can creates a real beautiful song. Moreover, the solo is really great! Just like Andy Timmon's stuff, clean and acoustic, simple yet profound.

The Mirror A true metal song, just by listen at the intro of the song. Heavy guitar riffs with heavy drums at the back. One thing to notice is that at around the fifth minutes, there are some riffs in Space - Dye Vest, just progressive.

Lie This song is the most popular song in this album, just like Images And Words' Pull Me Under and Train Of Thought's As I Am. The coolest part is there is a video clip of this song! The song is pure metal in every single minute of the song. In the guitar solo, John Petrucci played a riff taken from Pull Me Under, at the last minute in Pull Me Under, to be exact. The song ends with an unfinished guitar solo masterpiece : ), well, he could continued it, if there still time available.

Lifting Shadows Off A Dream For me, this is the most beautiful song in the album, not very metal but has a great feeling just by listening at the music notes. In a part, which I believe is the pre-chorus, there is a cool and nice guitar licks, which is very soft and unique, creates a nice ambience.

Scarred The last metal song before Space - Dye Vest, a nice ending of the album, and once again, not a very good vocal from LaBrie, but has great guitar solo..

Space - Dye Vest was made by Kevin Moore, both the lyric and the music. The song has dark and sad feeling because of the deep keyboard lines and also deep dark guitar and echoes sections. The best part is the change of style in the fifth minute, which increases the energy of the song. Truly Amazing.

I would give for stars for this album, because of the lack quality in LaBrie's vocal, although personally I think the others were doing great. Timur Imam Nugroho - Indonesia

Report this review (#78471)
Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Being a huge Dream Theatre fan I understand I may come off as a biased sheep when I'm reviewing - but I'll give you all the solace of knowing that this is a genuine review, and despite the fact that this is my favourite album by them, I would only give it 4-4.5 stars.

The reason this is my favourite DT album I guess is because I feel it's where they were most creative and mature. I guess I should break this down into the main things which seem to concern people with DT:

The vocals: certainly not a problem with this album. I found that Labrie's singing isn't superfluous in any way and his vocals are very creatively done, especially compared to some of their later work. I'll maintain that he appears to shine quite a bit more on his other projects - but he is still quite good on this album.

Lyrics: the lyrics aren't angsty or forced in any way - however, this I must attribute to Kevin Moore. Though I don't consider him to be the superior keyboard player, he really is the best lyricist the band ever had. They should seriously consider hiring him for that sole purpose.

Gratuitous display of talent: Again, not something you'll find here. The music is very controlled and enjoyable by most standards.

So really I guess what makes it so good is that they embraced the virtue of not being bounded by one uniting story or awful lyrics, while at the same time they propose a lot of positive things like a sense of variety and maturity.

MY QUALMS ABOUT THIS ALBUM: I can't rate it at five stars because that would imply that it's perfect - which it's not. Good bands tend to have this disease where they always have to ruin a perfect thing. With Awake, my scruples lie in the superfluous use of samples (6:00, Space-Dye-Vest (the Julian Sands monologue is extremely fitting, but everything else doesn't belong)) and just some of the lyrics in 'Lie' which give me an uneasy feeling. (Ironically, The Mirror/Lie is one of my favourite Dream Theatre songs.)

Some of the better tracks on this album are 6:00, A Mind Beside Itself (tracks 4, 5, and 6 in succession) The Mirror/Lie, Scarred, Lifting Shadows off a Dream, and Space-Dye-Vest (despite horrible judgment with regard to the use of samples). I guess that last, long sentence exhibits why I like this album so much - 'some of the better tracks' constitutes nine of the eleven songs!

Anyway, even if you're completely not into prog-metal, or metal at all (it isn't even really that much of a metal album if you look at it), this album is worth giving a chance (hell, even just for a download). And maybe if you like it enough - you'll do some good and support the band... ka-ching.

Report this review (#81849)
Posted Friday, June 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Dream Theater at their peak! After devolping their sound with the masterpiece that is Images & words, they put out AWAKE, an equallly as great release.

I'll make this quick (well not really). Dream Theater goes darker and heavier on this album. The great abilities of John(s) Petrucci, Myung and Mike Portnoy, combined with the incredible writing skills of Kevin Moore and Powerful voice of James LaBrie, make DT a powerhouse of a Prog metal band at this point.

Early 90's are still the early period of Prog metal so to speak, and yet with all the newly formed bands appearding, DT blows them out of the water. Even Today I am quite suprised that whenever I try to get into a band like Pagan's Mind or Threshold, they are just, well, boring. I think that that is because of their lack of originality that they have. Dream Theater are one of the main pioneers of the Genre, yet still many people think they are just copies of the Classic bands like Yes and Rush and Genesis combined with Metallica and Iron Maiden. The REASON Pagan's Mind, Threshold, and other not very well-known prog rock/metal bands are NOT popular is the fact that many of them do not do anyhting different than their predecessors (sp?).

For example, the classic 70's bands are hailed because they started the Genre in the first place (!) and by doing so did something no other Rock bands were doing at the time. In other words, they are original. The reason Prog metal bands such as Opeth, Riverside, DT, Pain of Salvation and Tool are the highest rated and most popular prog metal bands on this site is the fact that instead of following trends, they were/are very original!

OK, enough with that, back to AWAKE. On this album DT spends alot less time soloing and more time on the writing of this album. There are no filler tracks, and every song is beautifully written. Space-dye vest is the last thing Moore wrote with the band and left shortly after. He could not have given the band a better "Parting song".

Proggyness- 8/10 Writing- 10/10 Originality- 10/10 Musicianship-20/10

Because I do not agree with the site in what makes a 5 star album a 5 star album like "oohh, well only give it 5 stars if every single prog fans should get it!! oohh", I give it 5 stars because it is an incredible album, one of the best of the band, and very original.

Report this review (#82117)
Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well if Images and Words my favorite album of all times is then Awake follows right up, maybe we can agree that they just share the first place. Anyway, what matters is the music, and that is absolutely amazing. They changed their sound a bit, which would become something normal with the following albums . They became rougher, the riffs hardly fitted in the progressive metal drawer anymore. It was to be the last album with keyboarder Kevin Moore, but with strangely enough with "Space-Dye West" the strangest DT song he created one of my favorites. A real swansong I would say. If it is possible to pick just one, cause I like the album from the very beginning to the very end: from the first riffs of "6:00" up to the fading sounds of the already mentioned "Space- Dye West". The hard riffing and the keyboard in "The Mirror" is fantastic, and then again the closing keyboard parts, before it runs into "Lie", well they get me every time.timeless pieces they are.and a timeless album it is !!!! Once again the lyrics were not neglected and they really deliver some texts that have something to say and not only to provide the singer something to sing. But that was already the case on their former release as well. "Awake" is a unique album cause Dream Theater will never sound like this on the following records, if good or bad everyone should decide for himself/herself. No album will have such riffs, such atmosphere, in a way cause Kevin is no more with the band. A part of it can be heard on some of his solo albums, but together they were really genuine. Thanks guys.
Report this review (#82306)
Posted Friday, June 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars With 'Awake,' Dream Theater faced accusations by fans of commercialising their sound. Selling out by crafting an often brutally heavy and musically complex collection of mostly long songs? Whoever said progressive metal was simple.

Awake isn't one of my favourite Dream Theater albums, but is certainly the peak of the period between 1992's 'Images and Words' and 1999's 'Scenes from a Memory,' the former a landmark release that paved the way for popular prog. metal bands such as Tool and the latter a perfect culmination of a decade's work. Perhaps Awake is looked down upon for its lack of an over-arching concept; the first track, '6:00,' with its introductory-sounding title and use of sampled voices suggests some kind of storyline, but what we get are eleven distinct and complimentary songs dealing with themes such as anger, estrangement and alcoholism (again).

In terms of length, Awake is immediate value for money, coming in as close to 80 minutes as possible with the bonus track, not to mention the fact that this CD has been in sales on and on and off over the years for around Ł6.99.

Dream Theater count their influences among both progressive rock, especially Rush, and metal bands of the 80s such as Metallica and Iron Maiden, both of whom they have paid special tribute to in recent years by performing some of the bands' most acclaimed albums in full at their live shows. The music here is no 'less prog' than before, but the variety of songs and tendency to cut songs off once they are established, rather than extending them with instrumental sections, makes this potentially more accessible. But the anger here is clear: some of the tracks are surprisingly headache-inducing in their brutality, like a version of Slipknot or Korn who can actually play music. Sorry, couldn't help myself. 'Lie' and 'Scarred' give Metallica's most thrashy period a run for its money, while songs like 'Caught in a Web' combine this raw energy with more delicate keyboard and high guitar sections to reaffirm the band's progressive heart.

The only truly 'stripped-down' song on here is the light acoustic number 'The Silent Man,' quite REM-like but still fitting for the album. Other melancholy pieces are spiced up with high electric guitar, most notable in the excellent 'Innocence Faded,' or, in the case of 'Space-Dye Vest,' distorted so much through samples and keyboard effects that it's difficult to concentrate on anything other than floating out of the room. 'Erotomania' isn't an entirely successful instrumental, relying a little too much on Medieval sounding keyboards (oxymoron noted) that sound out of place on this collection, and James LaBrie's angry vocals sound a little strained and unpleasant in contrast to his usual softer vocal style.

Progressive metal isn't something for everyone, realistically finding its fan base only in fans of both seventies prog rock and more contemporary metal, but Dream Theater are clearly the pioneers and leaders of the increasingly expanding genre. Dream Theater's sound is unique and very distinctive, unlike some of their contemporaries; as interesting and bizarre as Ayreon (Arjen Lucassen)'s 'space operas' are, they can't shake off the very obvious 'Dark Side of the Moon' and 'War of the Worlds' influence. Dream Theater's only evident debt to bands such as Pink Floyd are their reliance on sampled dialogue, usually with a dubious political bent (their later song 'The Great Debate' is a ten minute song about stem cell research that divides speakers with left and right wing opinions to the relevant side of the speakers - now that's prog!)

Maybe Awake would be an easy place to start for fans of contemporary metal, although I was put off at first, despite already owning music from bands who count Dream Theater among their influences. 'Images and Words' remains my favourite album, based on a more melodic sound overall and remaining memorable throughout unlike Awake, which sounds a little rushed and unoriginal in places. Many songs on here became immediate and long-lasting crowd favourites, and it's important that Dream Theater cater for all occasions. When I want to lose myself in an intricate and arguably over-the-top prog landscape I'll play 'Scenes from a Memory,' but when I'm in the mood for screaming, weeping guitars, nothing betters 'Innocence Faded.'

Dream Theater have produced some exceptional albums and some quite poor efforts that hold very little of interest, but fortunately 1994's Awake is closer to the high end of the spectrum. The order of songs is sometimes a little dubious, and whether the varying styles is a good or bad thing is down to each listener's taste, but this was nevertheless an important release for 90s metal after the decline of grunge. Even if American bands can't spell their names properly.

Report this review (#82505)
Posted Monday, July 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The best work offered by Dream Theater, the pieces all fit together here, or at least most of them. Caught in a Web and Innocence Faded are laughably bad, but the remaining tracks range from good to outstanding. I see Voices as the defining song of Dream Theater, the one that highlights what they do best.

Kevin Moore's creativity would be lost after this album, as he would depart for other projects. His presence will surely be missed, as Space Dye Vest is basically his song. Scarred is the most moving and best track on the album. This song is perhaps the best that Dream Theater has ever done, critically underrated by fanboys who see Metropolis as the be all end all of progressive metal.

I would love to give this album 5 stars, but I can't. It would probably get it if we took off the two aforementioned horrible songs. Other than that, an outstanding and excellent record that has no problem standing beside the prog giants.

Report this review (#82633)
Posted Tuesday, July 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Awake is Kevin Moore's last album with Dream Theater. He did good during his tenure, but I personally think Rudess did even better. Still, Moore's work with the band was very commendable, and the material he helped conceive is surely among the finest of any.

This album is a longer affair than Images and Words. It's got all of the variety from before, only this time the contrast is greater. The heavy parts are heavier, and the soft parts are softer. This album is filled with strong material. My personal favorites are "Caught in a Web," "Innocence Faded," "Erotomania," and "Scarred." Everything is good here, but I have one problem: LaBrie. His range is excersized even more here, which is great, but his metal tone irks the crap out of me. Prime example being "6:00;" fantastic intro, but when we get around to "I may never get over..." I cringe. A lot of people like that kind of voice, but I can't stand it.

Other than that complaint, everything is very good. I personally get less out of this one than the previous, but there are plenty of classics here too.

Report this review (#82871)
Posted Wednesday, July 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars After Images & Words and Scenes from a memory this is my favourite Dream Theater album. And it is truly excellent. It was my first Dream Theater album and at first I couldnt find anything to my liking on it. Like with most of my favourites, I found myself liking it after a few listenes. Well, since then I have enjoyed it every time and I think it to be a great one.

It is in general a very enjoyable complex album with emotional songs and great maybe a little industrialish compositions. Different from other Dream Theater. As usual, Petrucci and Portnoy stun me with their great musician abilities. They are truly virtuosous musicians without a doubt.

1. 6.00- Starting with virtuoso Portnoys drumming intro and lasting for 5:31 intensive minutes, a great piece of prog music. 2. Caught in a Web- Melodic prog metal with emotional music and great performance by the musicians. 3. Innocence Faded- Similar to the previous track. Intensive, prog metalish, good music. 4. Erotomania- The best intrumental song by Dream Theater. Maybe only The Dance of Eternity is better. A fantastic composition. Complex music, odd time signatures etc. On Awake it is my favourite. 5. Voices- Similar to 2. and 3. track but different enaught to be very enjoyable. Emotional playing, complex structeres. Great music. 6. The Silent Man- A mellow song by Petrucci. Not exactly my cup of tea but a good soft song anyway. 7. The Mirror- A heavier and maybe more complex one. Excellent. 8. Lie- Something similar ( all tracks are very diffrent by compositions but at the same time some are with similar moods) to the previous and truly excellent as well. More metal than the others. 9. Lifting Shadows Off A Dream- Something softer. Gives balance to the album. Less complex, a quite prog pop-rock ballad. A weaker point in my oppinion. A little like U2. Good listening still. 10. Scarred- The main highlight of the album with the running time of 11 minutes. With Erotomania, this is the reason why I will rate Awake with 5 stars. 11. space-dye vest- The first track on this album that is quite bad. In my oppinion this one is a huge mistake on Awake. Composed by Kevin Moore, who I thought was a gifted musician before I heard this quite meaningless song. I would almost have put 4 stars to the album only because of this, the other tracks would make a masterpiece on their own. This one really drags down my oppinion about Awake. I have listened to it only a few times wholly, when I realised that this pop ballad with bad composing I turned the stereo off when the album reached this point of playing this song and ruin my good emotions of the magnificence and splendour of the rest of the album. In my oppinion- simply a non- listenable song.

Well, shortly, Awake is an essential album in prog-metal.

Report this review (#83316)
Posted Monday, July 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is perhaps my favourite piece of music from Dream Theater. I remember when I heard about Dream Theater for the first time, it was couple of years ago. I heard that everybody is listening to it in my school. I was like I have to listen it too, then. I know, teenager's brains are not the brightest ones. Well anyway, I went to a recordstore and bought a random Dream Theater album. That album was 'Awake'. I listened to it with caution. Then, I liked it. Now, I love it. The third album from DT. Second where LaBrie sings. Great album.

The album begins with '6:00'. Good drumming by Portnoy. Short tribal drum fill. Keyboards join, and guitarring begins. Good metal riffing. Great bass playing by Muyng. I love the way LaBrie sings in this one. Good prog-metal song. Next is 'Caught in a Web'. Good metal riffing in here too. Nice, melodic keyboards in the song. Portnoy continues his great drumming. There are heavy stuff, and there are soft stuff. Great song after good beginning. So far, the album is only good, but wait, it will get better. 'Innocence Faded' begins with very happy keyboard or guitar melody. Calm verse. Very nice pop chorus. This song is very refreshing point in the album. The next one is great piece. It belongs to 'A Mind Beside Itself', which include the next three songs. 'Erotomania' shines with its melody, metal, complexity and virtuoso-like instrument handling. The guitar solo in the middle is from 'The Silen Man'. It's the vocal melody from chorus. There is very classical influenced guitar playing by Petrucci in the song. After that, stunning guitar solo with immense speed. Then, good metal riff with disturbing (in a good way) keyboard line. The song finishes calmly. 'Voices' is very mellow piece of music. Nice guitar solo in the end of the song. Good, calm way to recover from the amazing 'Erotomania'. The next songs will calm your senses even more. 'The Silent Man' is a non-prog ballad with great acoustic guitars and singing. Good way to finish the trilogy, 'A Mind Beside Itself'.

The next two songs are linked together. I see them as one song, because they share the same feeling. For me, the feeling of the song makes the song. 'The Mirror' begins with pretty heavy Dream Theater sound. Little riffing and tempo changes. Very good, scary vocals. Very good, beautiful keyboards. Good prog-metal track. Probably the heaviest track in this album. 'Lie' continues with the heavy sound. Good vocals. This is actually very good single material. I've seen the video from this track. It's not very good, but the track is. Good guitar solo in the end. The combination of these two songs is great. The next one is antoher non-prog ballad, 'Lifting Shadows off a Dream'. Great, beautiful keyboards and vocals. Very emotional song. 'Scarred' begins with jazzy bass and drum playing. Good, short guitar solo, and calm vocals. Good, mellow metal with agressive vocals after that. Petrucci continues to impress with his amazing talent. Great song. The finisher of the album is great. 'Space-Dye Vest' is very emotional and beautiful track. Very soft vocals, very good work. Great finisher.

All in all, this is great album. The talent, the prog-metal, the calm, beautiful melody impresses. This album has everything. But I can't give this album a five star rating. There is something that doesn't unite these songs as one. Or there is lack of something. Whichever it is, I'm left missing that something. This album has eleven great tracks, but I don't see this album as a masterpiece. I see it as an excellent addition to any prog music collection. 'Awake' is definitely on of the best albums from Dream Theater. The kings of progressive metal are building their castle. One great mark in the history of prog-metal and the history of Dream Theater. I recommend this album to everyone.

Report this review (#84266)
Posted Thursday, July 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of the greatest albums I have heard. Dream Theater at its best. From the opening drum intro on "6:00" to the closing chords of "Space-Dye Vest", everything as close to perfection as it gets.

The diversity of the music in Awake is one of it's strong points. You can play the album over and over without getting tired. Heavy moments, like in "Caught in a Web", "The Mirror" and "Lie" are balanced out with beautiful softer moments. "Scarred" is the longest composition, and one of Dream Theater's best. And, of course, the unforgettable sequence "Erotomania" (maybe their best instrumental piece) - "Voices" - "The Silent Man".

Awake shows how well Dream Theater can be both individually and as a group. James Labrie is with no doubt at his peak, showcasing a crystal clear voice and the right amount of agressiveness. John Petrucci produced some of his best solo material here ("Voices", "Lie", "Scarred"). Portnoy and Myung establish great grooves, and Kevin Moore prooves why many consider him to have been Dream Theater's most successful keyboard player.

All in all, Awake is a wonderful album. Five stars, with honours.
Report this review (#84381)
Posted Friday, July 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dream Theater definitely didn't rest on "Images & Words" success, even if I'm sure they were taken by surprise with the unexpected MTV spinning. "Awake", the second and last album featuring this line-up, is heavier and especially darker and more somber than its predecessor. It's also a bit more uneven, despite featuring some of the best songs the band ever recorded.

One can only wonder which direction this line-up would have taken. Keyboardist Kevin Moore's presence is more felt than ever and vocalist LaBrie delivers what is arguably his best performance on record - take "Innocence Faded" for instance and you'll see what I mean. There's one verse where I can't for the life of me figure out what he is saying but boy does he hit the high note.

There are a few DT favorites on "Awake" and for me those are the "A Mind Beside Itself" suite which includes the incredibly technical - and somewhat funny - "Erotomania", the very progressive "Voices" in which LaBrie really shines and the beautifully melodic and accoustic "The Silent Man". "The Mirror" may be one of DT's most heavy numbers, definitely a concert favorite, whereas "Lifting Shadows off a Dream" explains why Kevin Moore was such an important member at this time and why his departure must have worried DT fans at the time. Finally, and speaking of Moore, "Space Dye Vest" is widely regarded as his swan song, his last and most intense contribution to the band.

I'm not giving this five stars - I don't go as far as saying it is a masterpiece and essential in any prog buff collection even if it definitely is on mine - but it really is 4,5 stars. It is indeed an excellent addition to anyone's stack.

Report this review (#84750)
Posted Tuesday, July 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars My discovery of A Change of Seasons in the Spring of 1997 renewed my interest in Dream Theater, a band I had long forgotten. Thus I found myself trolling the local music store looking for yet more DT material. I quickly came across Awake and purchased the disc without hesitation. As soon as I arrived home I slapped the purchase in my disc player, not really sure what to expect.

The hammering drum opening of 6:00 quickly proved the band had not backed away from their hardcore progressive efforts of Images and Words. The song is darker in tone than IandW, especially LaBrie's voice, which has a menacing edge to it. LaBrie employs this technique throughout the disc, giving Awake a different sound than that found on virtually any other DT release. The song also employs a number of samples, which are also used throughout Awake. These unique qualities (for DT) give Awake a sound unlike any other DT disc. Not that Awake is a huge departure from the DT sound or theme, as progressive elements abound and religion is a constant topic (as on most of DT discs).

While I didn't care all that much for Awake during my first listens three songs stood out immediately: Voices, Scarred and Space-Dye Vest. Voices instantly struck me as a classic prog-metal song, with an epic feel to it. Clearly covering religious topics, the song includes signature time changes, a brilliant arrangement with smooth transitions, mood swings and a breath-taking closing. Presented with stunning musicianship (most notably Petrucci's searing guitar solo) Voices is one of my all-time favorite DT songs.

Awake also contains another DT trademark, which is the Big Concept. First hinted at with Metropolis Part I on IandW, Voices is part 2 of DT's first complete concept piece, entitled A Mind Beside Itself. Three songs make up the whole piece, Erotomania, Voices and The Silent Man. While Voices is stunning, the other songs don't work for me. Erotomania is an instrumental that starts off well but meanders too long (like most DT instrumentals). Logging in at almost 7 minutes, the piece could easily be cut in half without losing any effectiveness (though lots of hardcore DTers out there would vehemently disagree with me). The transition from Erotomania to Voices does, however, work wonderfully.

The Silent Man concludes AMBI and offers little. An acoustic-based ballad, the song itself simply isn't interesting enough to hold attention without the progressive elements found in most DT songs. Dream Theater's inability to write great songs is perhaps the band's greatest weakness. And by songs I mean tunes that catch your attention and keep your interest even when the musicians aren't shredding their instruments. Whenever DT gets away from their strength (superb musicianship) their work usual suffers and The Silent Man is a prime example. (To be fair, the live electric version found on Live Scenes From New York is a far superior effort.)

Space-Dye Vest was also an immediate stand out. A clear departure from the usual DT formula, Space-Dye Vest is dark and moody, dominated by a repeating piano phrase, samples and quirky machine-like sounds. Not exactly the usual prog-metal but it works wonderfully. It's a song unlike any other DT song and clearly has the signature of keyboardist Kevin Moore, who wrote the music and lyrics. It's a perfect closing song to Awake, as both the song and the disc are departures for the band. SDV represents a different side of DT, one I wish they'd explore further. This "experimental" sound can also be found on Speak To Me, another winning song that doesn't adhere to the traditional DT formula.

Scarred is my third favorite from Awake. An epic song in the tradition of Metropolis, Learning to Live and Voices, the song logs in at 11 minutes and contains all the elements that make a classic DT song: unique arrangement, superb progressive musicianship, smooth transitions from hard to soft and interesting lyrics. LaBrie again uses the more menacing tone to his voice, giving the song an edge that's frequently missing from DT songs. The one song that I really didn't like initially but which grew on me is Caught in a Web. For one thing, I've NEVER liked the opening....something about that keyboard sound irritates me; plus the initial stanza is pretty boring. The song doesn't really get interesting until the fist chorus but from there it's pretty strong. The musical break is especially outstanding, highlighted by the duel guitar-keyboard effort.

The other song that I didn't take to initially that eventually won me over is Lifting Shadows Off A Dream. I really like the light, airy feeling created during the song's opening, then the way the song slowly builds higher and higher. Still not one of my favorites but better than I originally thought.

The remaining songs each have good qualities but overall leave me wanting. The Mirror has a very cool intro (that appears on Once In A Livetime as Puppies on Acid) but meanders in the middle before concluding with a unique slow/heavy bit. Lie is solid throughout and is highlighted by a superfast Petrucci solo to close. Innocence Faded is a song I could do without completely.

I know that a lot of hardcore DT fans consider Awake to be the band's best effort but I cannot agree. Some of the musical parts simply drone on too long, lacking the captivating elements that are so evident in ACoS and some of IandW. That's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Report this review (#85131)
Posted Sunday, July 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
2 stars After having surprised most of the PA regulars by giving four stars to "Images and Words", notorious DT basher Ghost Rider returns to form on this occasion... I actually bought "Awake" a few months ago on the strength of the numerous rave reviews I'd read both here and on other prog sites, and I've been trying to get into it ever since - unfortunately, to no avail. However, I wil try to make this review as fair and objective as possible, as panning an album just for the sake of it is not really my style.

Released two years after the undeniably ground-breaking I&W, "Awake" is widely considered one of DT's strongest efforts - and possibly the darkest, which I find to be quite true (more like unrelentingly gloomy, in my humble opinion). In fact, the band's many admirers will find a lot to enjoy in this album: dazzling instrumental pyrotechnics, long, intricate compositions - with a single exception, none shorter than 5 minutes (with epic "Scarred" clocking in at 11'), LaBrie trademark vocal theatrics, and a suitably baroque album cover as well. However, as a non-admirer, I found this record did not really succeed in converting either me or other like-minded people.

For one thing, it goes on way too long. After a while, those 75 minutes seem to go on forever, the individual tracks turning into a single, unrelenting, nearly impenetrable wall of sound, punctuated by LaBrie's more-often-than-not annoying wail. While the musical chops of the single members are quite evident, what is much less so is the ability to write actual songs that can fix the attention of those who do not yet worship at the band's altar. What I see in "Awake" is a sort of contemporary application of the Decadent motto of "art for art's sake", but without the social and philosophical implications. DT can certainly play, and no one in their right mind are going to deny this simple fact: but then, why do their records give 'outsiders' (i.e. sceptics or newcomers) the impression of being exercises in narcissism, rather than coherent musical efforts?

Obviously, any track-by-track analysis on my part would be perfectly beside the point. I readily admit to being unable to distinguish between the various tracks, with the possible exception of album closer "Space-Dye Vest" (possibly the record's best composition, with very tasteful piano courtesy of Kevin Moore, whose contribution to the band's sound was sorely missed on later efforts). Opener "6.00" is quite promising, a hard-rocking, energetic song with a distinctive pace - pity that, later on, the songs start blurring into a single unit, and the attention starts to wander in such a way that eventually, halfway through the album, the ear does not perceive anything but the endless noodling of the various instruments. Blessedly LaBrie-free instrumental "Erotomania" is quite good in its own way, but fails to achieve the memorable quality that instrumental tour de forces like, for instance, Rush's "YYZ" seem to do quite effortlessly.

Not even a single comma of this review will convince any dedicated fans of the truth of what I say, and I must admit it's quite OK with me. As a matter of fact, I often find myself on the receiving end when reading less-than-rave reviews of personal favourites such as CTTE or "Thick as a Brick", to name but two. Anyway, this review is not intended as a pointless exercise in bashing a cult album (I take my job as a reviewer far too seriously for that), but as an example of the response of the average DT unbeliever. Sorry guys... I suppose it's just not my cup of tea.

Report this review (#85375)
Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars After reading Ghost Riders review of this album, I felt compelled to write my own negative review. This is not, by any stretch, an attempt to bash Dream Theater. Unlike the previous reviewer, I actually like some DT (in particular, the second CD of 6 Degrees, as well as Change of Seasons and the latest album). This was actually the first DT album I heard all the way through. I had heard a couple songs off of I&W's, and was more or less impressed by them. I was not fond of the vocals, but was blown away by the instrumental prowess of the band.

This album made me think that that was all they had going for them. Labrie is now a great vocalist, I think. On the first two DT albums he was shrill and annoying, IMO. Frankly, on this album in particular, I have a very hard time getting past his vocals. By 6 degrees, his singing had mellowed some, and he is able to sing in a way that I very much enjoy, even when he is hitting the top of his range. But on this album, I just find him nearly unlistenable.

As to the songs themselves, I find them very samey, with little variation. Oh, I suppose it is true there is a great variety of complexity and shredding, but that is as far as it goes. Again, there is no denying their skill, but the songs leave me unable to tell one apart from the other, for the most part.

So not a glowing review, and I certainly don't claim to be an authority on what makes great prog metal. But I do like other DT albums, so I suppose this one just didn't do it for me.

Report this review (#85416)
Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#87945)
Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars IMHO, the best DT album so far.

Complex, complete, progressive, original and heavy. Seeing that too many reviews have already been written about this album so far, I'll make it short. Erotomania is to me the best DT instrumental, rich and complex with wonderful soloing, if you liked Images and Words and found their late "heaviness" not so pure, you'll love Awake. Look out for a brilliant Portnoy and a progressing Labrie.

Report this review (#89939)
Posted Monday, September 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I feel I must preface this review with a few facts. I'm an older fan of prog that just got into Dream Theater this year when I purchased "Scenes from a Memory" and "Octavarium." I find both to be of the highest quality and they quickly rose into my top ten. I have a lot of respect for this incredible band so I'll highlight the good news about this album first. If you didn't know it already, John Petrucci is a phenomenon on guitar. I played for over 30 years myself and the ability to play that fast and precisely is a God-given talent that only few are given. He makes this album rise high above the rabble and he does things you have to hear to believe. And the progressive music here is great, overall. Very well-thought-out, inventive and complex without getting ridiculously befuddling. Now the bad news. I had wondered why so many reviewers had problems with LaBrie's vocals. What I have heard on the aforementioned cds is terrific to my ears and I continue to enjoy his work immensely. However, I now understand where everyone was coming from. When he goes into what I call his "scary" voice I want to run from the room. For real. But I have to take into considerable consideration that this was recorded over a decade ago in 1993-94 and this is what was happening/selling at the time and maybe he was trying to sound like Dio or something. Whatever. All I can say is that if I'd bought this album before the two I did I may never have purchased another one from Dream Theater and that would have been a shame. I will continue to listen to this cd from time to time because there are still some wonderful songs on here like "The Silent Man," "Space-dye vest," "Innocence Faded" and the marvelous instrumental "Erotomania." Again, the music throughout is top-notch but I find I have to just tune out Labrie's too frequently employed screamy vocals in order to enjoy the songs. To put this all in context I love Genesis and Yes but some of their earlier recordings have to be viewed in context of where they were in terms of their writing and performing experience. I think I'll observe this album in that same light. Well done but they kept getting better and better as they moved forward through the years. 3.4 stars.
Report this review (#92547)
Posted Friday, September 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
Crossover Team
5 stars Dream theater's Awake album is my favourite DT album, it's the only DT albumthat i would rate 5 stars. As far as i'm concerned, it doesn't get better than this. I have all Dt's albums, but I return to Awake everytime i want to satisfy my hunger for this band. I could use an excessive amount of superlatives to show my enthusiasm towards this excellent album, but I would still forget something i could have said and did not. So the bottom line is this album is a must have for any prog-rock or prog-metal collection. James LaBrie did his best vocal performance here, Kevin Moore outdid himself here, musically and lyrically, the rhythm section Portnoy/Myung shines at its best and last but not least, Petrucci's performance is outstanding. It seems i've already started with the superlatives...

In my humble opinion Awake is a masterpiece of progressive metal; if you haven't got it yet, then it's high time you did...

Report this review (#93600)
Posted Friday, October 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am a police captain from the Philippine National Police in the Philippines and a very big fan of DT. Back in the early 90's, a friend, who was a band member and a seasonal guitar player, of mine introduced me to the sound of dreamtheater. At first I was curious of the way they all played their instruments, which I believe is touch by "virtousity". One thing which I believe why their music is the best is because they play with, I may say "excellence" and intelligence. When I entered the police academy, I lost almost two years of what was happening with the DT because, as part of our training and discipline, we were not authorized to go out. But when I graduated in the early 2000's, I went directly to the music stores to buy thier available album. I once read a magazine regarding thier playing style to include the good reviews of Mr Petrucci. But when I heard them play, all my attentions in relation to the music were, focused to the DT. Until now, I am still trying to complete my collection of thier albums. It is because back then, I used to buy their album in tapes and I am now trying to buy cd's and/or DVD's to catch up with the modern times (i.e. Almost players available in the market is for cd's and DVD's only). However, I was saddened that everytime I went to the music store to find thier albums or concert videos, as the case may be, these were not available. This is the problem here in our country, which I believe, only quite few individuals are listening to their music. But I am still hoping to get a grab of all their albums. If anyone outhere that could help me find a store in the Philippines that has all their albums and concert videos available. Please send me an e-mail ([email protected]) and I will owe it heart from you with all my.
Report this review (#94776)
Posted Monday, October 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Darkest album aside from Train of Thought, last album that Kevin Moore played with Dream Theater *tear*, and probably a collection of Dream Theater's finest works of thier earliest days. I'll be frank, Dream Theater is my all time favorite band aside Rush, Kamelot, Ayreon, Porcupine Tree, and many, many others. Along with these guys there isn't an album that's disapointed me, except for thier first When Dream and Day Unite, as of this I can't acredit much just to say this is another masterpiece of DT! Because to me, all thier albums are incredible with thier own unique style and emotion. This album, Awake, is darker, harder, and full of lyrical power from the creative mind of Mr. Moore. Awake is for those of you who are Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Riverside and Green Carnation fans. All of these bands seem to have relations to this album and even that of Train of the Thought, probably for the complexity of darkness! All the songs have that aroroa about them defining that dark feeling that Riverside and all the other bands seem to contribute. hey, it's good my friends, in fact, it's incredible. Awake as the awsome singles of Lie, Silent Man, and Innocence Faded. Are those the good songs? Well, no because ALL the songs are good! Space-Dye Vest is by far my favorite tune ont this album, and ifyou like melocholonic (if that's even a word) and ballad, then you HAVE to listen to this song! Scarred is genious with The Mirror, Voices, Caught in the Web and more more more more! Six-o-Clock is ingenious and a great start into the album and it doesn't let up. Erotomania is a great instrumental and one of my favorites as well. All together I'd have to say the second successful album after Images and Words, IS a success, in fact, it IS a masterpiece. It was worth pushing the "OK" button when they warned me not to put to much 5 stars on my record... ha, funny. Anywho. Awake is incredible! 5/5 DT! You guys keep going and release a new album soon!
Report this review (#95591)
Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Awake is the eagerly awaited follow up to 1992's breakthrough sophomore album Images and Words. Awake brims with a darkness that the band would not come close to again until 2003's Train of Thought.

"6:00" is a great opener that's full of energy. "Caught in a Web" is a strong mid tempo piece, but it tends to be repetitive. "Innocence Faded" is likely James Labrie's strongest vocal performance ever. A beautiful track that's unfortunately all too easy to skip over.

"Erotomania" is a great instrumental that begins the 3 part Mind Beside Itself suite. Fantastic complex drums from Protnoy, Myung's bass is pounding, Petrucci's guitar is great, and Kevin's keyboard is haunting (listen starting around 2:24 to get chills on your spine). Great solo from Petrucci. "Voices" is a mellow juxtaposition to the frantic Erotomania. "The Silent Man" continues the balladry. Overall, the suite is quite good.

"The Mirror" is led by Myung's bass and resumes the power.

"Lie" is a riff monster. Petrucci and Myung pound this song ahead. It is the heaviest song DT had at that time.

"Lifting Shadows Off a Dream" is emotional, though not as good as The Silent Man

"Scarred" is an 11 minute opus that is one of the band's finest tracks. Great vocals, heavy yet melodic sound.

"Space Dye Vest" is an interesting way to close the album. Scarred's excellent outro lures you into thinking the album is over, then comes this little piece. It features a lone piano over James' vocals. It's an astonishingly beautiful track, probably second only to The Spirit Carries On from Scenes From a Memory.

Awake is a worthy successor to Images and Words and prog metal fans would well to own this.

Grade: B

Report this review (#101513)
Posted Sunday, December 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's funny that the only album that i didn't like when i was into DT is the only album that i enjoy now that i don't see what i used to see in the rest of their discography.

6:00 : Good enough (and i mean good) start for the album, although being of the heaviest tracks, it still features Kevin Moore's work at it's best. 3 stars.

Caught in a web : Not as good as it could be, but it still has spirit, the solos are obviously meant to get the atention, but actually they are chromatic fast riffs with little thinking behind it. 2 stars.

Innocence faded: Actually this is great! Spacy keyboards, the drums are well crafted. The only thing wrong is LaBrie's cheesy vocals. 4 stars.

Erotomania : Just fair enough, again the highlight is Moore. Some unconvincing solos now and then... 2 stars.

Voices: The introduction resembels some Deep Purple in my opinion, the rest of the track is a mixture of heavy but slowed up guitar riffs, and spacy and disonant but still balladistic parts. 3 stars.

The silent man : Good, if it wasn't for LaBrie's distinctive lyrics, you might think it's from the 70's!. 4 stars.

The Mirror : Very well crafted track, the guitar is doing his part here and not goofing around as Petrucci usually does. 4 stars.

Lie : The most straightfoward metal track in the hole album. And the a different vocal style which makes Lie a unique track from DTs hole discography. 4 stars.

Lifting shadows off a dream : Mhm, don't know really what to say, just too standard for the album. 2 stars.

Scarred : Very good actually, but LaBrie again steals the show in a bad way. 3 stars.

Space-Dye Vest: DT at it's peak of creativity, Moore's 'take it or leave it' in Dream theater. Really really beautifull track, it's in my top tracks of all time.5 stars.

3+2+4+2+3+4+4+4+2+3+5 / 11 = 3.2 stars , more or less what i expected it would be.

Report this review (#103728)
Posted Tuesday, December 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another great album of flawlessly performed, shimmeringly produced melodic metal. Although I find this took lots of listens to get into properly, and I still feel I haven't got into this as much as it deserves. It's long and sprawling, and maybe lacks the coherence of its predecessor "Images and Words".

Most of the individual songs on it hold up well on their own, starting with the jaunty clockwork theme of "6.00". "Caught in a Web" and "Innocence Faded" are less interesting standard rock, but the heavy, multilayered instrumental "Erotomania" brings the excitement back. The album plunges into darker and heavier territory with "The Mirror" and "Lie". "Lifting Shadows off a Dream" has a beautiful melody, and even a gothic feel, with keyboards that wouldn't sound out of place on The Cure's "Disintegration". "Space Dye Vest", written by keyboard player Kevin Moore, has a powerful dynamic buildup - on the surface its unison piano theme might seem repetitive, but it's all that the track needs.

The two extended tracks "Voices" and "Scarred" don't really have enough interesting ideas to fill up their ten minutes. James La Brie's singing does sometimes go over the top, that is, yell so high that all the syllables sound the same! But the band playing is as strong and tight as ever.

Report this review (#108127)
Posted Saturday, January 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Prog-metal at its best.

I think DT has a wide range of fans, coming from different musical backgrounds and tastes. Of course, some of them are pure metalheads and I guess Awake should be their first choice in DT's catalogue because, of the band two most metal albums -Awake and Train of Thought- Awake is far ahead in terms of inspiration and diversity.

Well, unfortunately, I am not a metal fan and some songs here leave me cold, especially "Lie" . which was chosen by the band as the first and only single to be issued from the album. Logically, I also have troubles with the other most metal sounding tracks : "The Mirror", "Scarred" and "Voices". Obviously, those are not bad but they just are not my cup of tea.

Still, I have got plenty to enjoy from this album. "Innocence Faded", for instance, represents everything I like in DT, this twisting and challenging yet accessible blend of melodic and heavy rock. The same could be told from "Lifting Shadows off a Dream".

"The Silent Man" and "Space Dye Vest" are the two slow songs of the album and I love both of them. The first one is a classic acoustic ballad with an extra-short but awesome solo from John Petrucci ; the second is a desperate and romantic love (hate ?) song closing perfectly the Kevin Moore's era of the band.

And it's not over because you also get and incredible instrumental, "Erotomania", a groovy "jazz/metal" opener, "6:00", and a shorter classic metal song with an anthemic (does this word exist ?) chorus, "Caught In a Web".

So it seems that I should listen to Awake more often but I don't do so because of its two major flaws : at 75:00 it is obviously overlong and it contains some metal songs that don't move me. Take "The Mirror", "Lie" and "Scarred" off the record and you will have a perfect 50:00 album. But I would be lynched by hundred thousands of fans if I tried the move. So it will be another 4 stars album in my DT collection.

Report this review (#109129)
Posted Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
The T
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?

Report this review (#111386)
Posted Friday, February 9, 2007 | Review Permalink

There's no way to deny the importance of Dream Theater in Prog Rock History considering their second and third Studio Album.

After all the success that the band achieved with their previous release "Images & Words" and their first world tour, Awake is the record that brought that strength to these guys even without being that successful in the charts. Even though, the album has this awesome mix of intricate instrumental passages, heavier riffs than ever and a very powerful voice. In my opinion James LaBrie really shines on this album, you feel every single note coming out from his voice that makes this magnificent work stand out and reinvent the band. Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci reach new horizons with their instruments adding also the magical contribution of Kevin Moore and John Myung holds up quite well, adding to the Prog Metal Sound with his bass playing. I also have to notices the lyrics of every single song; which are the best that the band has ever written.

A stunning beginning opens this release with a drum fill in "6:00", the song is structured in an increasing way, the way they progress and change, and the maturity that had reach the band in that moment is simply amazing. The instrumental jam is found in the climatic point of the track followed by a little break that introduces us to some kind of solo.

"Caught in a Web" is when the album starts growing and it never stops, the drums and the keyboards are immaculate, without a single stain. John Petrucci & James LaBrie share credits for this lyrics that haunted me.

"Innocence Faded" has a very happy start; this is a more hard rock metal song with some progressive elements and a very poppy chorus that is almost impossible not to sing.

"A Mind behind Itself" has these two parts; which are simply powerful, marvelous, amazing and all the adjectives you want to add to the sentence, "Erotomania" and "Voices" closed beautifully by the John Petrucci's "Silent Man". The first one is an instrumental piece that content one the most progressive stuff made by the band. "Voices" is one of the most solid tracks in the album, musically, lyrically and conceptually perfect. "The Silent Man" closes this epic with an acoustic sound; this is some kind of rest for the 2 next songs that follow into a heavy and crunching sound.

"The Mirror" is the reflection of Mike's alcohol dependence, his fight against his alcoholism is captured perfectly in this song. The powerful start reminds me a lot to the Pantera Style which is well spice with the keyboards to add some progressiveness to the matter in fact. The reference made of "Space-Dye Vest" is excellent.

"Lie" has the most powerful sound of the whole album, but the lack of progressive elements minimizes my taste for this song. Even though, this song is pretty enjoyable in their live performances.

"Lifting Shadows off a Dream" is one of my favorite tracks in the album, the bass harmonic intro by John Myung, the soft keyboards following the same melodic line of the voice, James LaBrie, the space guitar sound by Mr. Petrucci and the lyrics make of this track a wonderful experience. Just sit down and enjoy the gig.

"Scarred" is the song that prepares everything, 11 minutes of great musicianship by these New York guys as a preamble for the closing and most beautiful track in this release.

"Space-Dye Vest". Wow!!! Since the beginning of the song you know this is going to rule the universe. An excellent production that includes some excerpts of a movie, a television program and daily news add some drama to the music and the lyrics written by Kevin Moore.

Concluding, this is an awesome album and a sad goodbye for Kevin Moore.

Report this review (#113507)
Posted Sunday, February 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars The follow-up to the successful 'Images and Words', DREAM THEATER'S 'Awake' finds the band bravely searching for their true voice. This album is much heavier than its predecessor, a bit heavier indeed than some of the band members seem comfortable with. Standards remain high, and real hooks are appearing in some of the songs, but it still falls some way short of the definitive statement the band members were looking for.

'Erotomania', 'Lifting Shadows' and 'Space-Dye Vest' leap at you on first listen, while 'Lie', their heaviest edge thus far, also attracts attention. While nowhere near as progressive as found on albums like 'Six Degrees' and 'Train of Thought', the songs here mark an intermediary step on DREAM THEATER'S interesting and ultimately frustrating journey. I'd recommend many of the other DREAM THEATER albums over this one; though this is certainly listenable, I wouldn't feel the DT canon would miss it greatly had it not been made.

Report this review (#114953)
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars This album is really stale, dry, and mostly, boring to my ears. I don't sense any artistic touch, nor do I experience any atmospheric sensations. Erotomania has a great keyboard line, and the Silent Man is decent, but the rest of this album revolves purely around techinical skill and lacks any feel (that, undefinable, invisible thing), musical or lyrical poetry, or anything really fresh. I'm not a fan of the tones and sounds of the instruments here (drums and guitar particularily) and LaBrie's vocals are at their most annoying. Songs like "The Mirror" are very aggressive, simple metal songs with interesting, amusing, but ultimately dull rhythmic guff. Space Dye Vest's piano intro does nothing for me; I feel no emotional response to it. And Scarred seems to be 11 minutes without substance.

This is my personal opinion on the piece, and if you disagree (I know many of you do) please do not be offended.

Report this review (#117943)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Okay, I'm going to do this review with each song: 6:00- Is as proggressive DT can get; it's pretty good Labrie's voice makes me cringe, but with DT I do my best to ignore his somewhat out of place vocals at some points. Caught In A Web-Still sticking to that general proggy feel...unique song with random lyrics. My intermission----- Sounds musically perfect, but other than that it's pretty freaking boring. Innocence Faded---Boring...kind of a little balad thing going... a lot slower worthless lyrics. Erotomania---Sluggish instrumental though I know you DT's musically perfect and sounds good, but DT fans should really check out other prog bands (as a suggestion). Voices---Pretty good---goes into random directions and labrie's voice irritates the hell out of me on this one.. THe silent man----they tried to make a hit DIDNT WORK. The Mirror---now they to sound like Metallica----just skip the song and listen to master of puppets...and labrie's voice sucks for metal. Lie---It's like Prog-Pop-Metal----tried to make a heavy hit DIDNT WoRk Throughout this album you can tell that DT tried to make another breakthrough song like Pull Me Under but, it didn't work =( Lifting Shadows...-Yawn Scarred--omg labries voice is killing me you have to take a sip of that li*our to enjoy this one. Space Dye Vest--Ended the album sucking left me like wtf? All in all its good to all you DT fans generally, but to those who havent heard DT you might like it....musically perfect=-=lyrically crap----worthless material.
Report this review (#118079)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Mike Portnoy dedicates this record to Frank Zappa his biggest inspiration. John Pertucci thanks Steve Morse while the band thanks FATES WARNING (as usual), IRON MAIDEN and PSYCHOTIC WALTZ.These are some amazing bands !

This would be Kevin Moore's last record with the band and the final song "Space Dye Vest" is the only song on here that he wrote both the lyrics and music for. Not surprisingly it's one of the better songs on the album. It's so different then the other songs and immediatley brought to mind CHROMA KEY. This song is an atmospheric, piano driven song with samples that Kevin would become famous for later in his career.

The opening song "6:00" has some great drum and guitar to get the album started. The line "6 o'clock on Christmas morning" is catchy and the background synths are a nice touch, not only here but throughout this record. "Caught In A Web" has a commercial sounding chorus with synths. I like it. The rest of the song is very heavy with killer drumming. "Innocence Faded" reminded me of RUSH as it opens. Vocals are well done and there are background vocals as well. This is a mellower tune with Pertucci letting it rip to end the song. "Erotomania" is an excellent instrumental with lots of tempo changes. Some scorching guitar solos and maniacle drumming makes this a must listen. "Voices" is a song that doesn't do much for me. The vocals are hit and miss and the brief heavy riffs seem out of place. The long extended guitar solo before 8 minutes is great.

"The Silent Man" is another song I do not like very much."The Mirror" is a good one with heavy riffs. The drum / synth melody 6 minutes in is good. "Lie" is another heavy tune that is quite dark. The shredding from Pertucci to end the song is a highlight. "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream" is refreshing. I love the way Pertucci plays over the melody much like The Edge does with U2. This has some atmospheric passages as well. "Scarred" is my favourite song on this album. It has a crunchy sound and LaBrie's vocals are rough sounding at times.

Overall this is an excellent record. Kevin has a lot to do with that as I love synths in the background. These guys play so well together, I love the instrumental work. There are some misses as far as songs go, and as far as James vocals go, but this is one I can highly recommend.

Report this review (#119140)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars A strong and more varied follow up to their excellent "Images of Words", "Awake" shows more experimentation within the same metal framework as before, but lacking the memorability or impact of the former.

The band's playing throughout "Awake" is top-notch, with all members expanding their skills nicely; however, there are few amazing moments in this recording, making a few of the songs drag on or even go by without leaving much of an impression. LaBrie's singing is also done in a slightly more angry timbre, using a sort of gravelly inflection which makes "Awake" sound more metal and less progressive.

Fun for fans and a good example of smart metal, but definitely not the highly rated masterpiece it's been scored-- especially when compared to the amazing stuff to follow.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Report this review (#119212)
Posted Saturday, April 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dream Theater used to be my favourite band for quite a while and this was their top album. While the DT-love has faded out quite a bit, I feel this is still their best, because I think that their metal side has always been better developed than their progressive side.

Following Images And Words, this is the darker and heavier record. While its historic importance is a bit less high, we're still in a time where progmetal was quite an underdeveloped subgenre (how different from the present). JLB's vocals form the weak point here (especially when compared to their latter day metal record, Train Of Thought), but it's close to the only one.

A positive difference with other DT's records is that the playing of particularly Portnoy and Petrucci feels quite to-the-point (rather than the aimless pounding and shredding we would sometimes be exposed to on later albums). I really love Petrucci's performance on Scarred, making one of the reasons why it's my all-time favourite DT-track.

Some other highlights: Caught In A Web, Innocence Faded, the A Mind Beside Itself-trilogy (although the songs have nothing to do with each other from a purely musical point of view) and Lie. I disliked the closing track, composed by Kevin Moore, for quite a long time, but over the last time I've come to see its own value a bit more.

All in all, a very good progmetal record and, writing 2007, still DT's best.

Report this review (#120881)
Posted Sunday, May 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a great album, which always give me a special feeling when I listen to it. I don't know what it is, but it's just something with that dark sound...

1.6:00: It's a cool opener but not much more than that. I like the drums in it very much though! Overall: 6/10

2.Caught in a Web: To me, the album haven't really started yet. These two first songs seems to be just a warmup. But it's a good song, but it'll get better! Overall: 7/10

3.Innocence Faded: Now we're talking! Concidering that this is quite a heavy and dark album, this song it's not a good way to introduce the album to someone who haven't heard it. But however, this is a great song! And I love the ending guitar solo, which is one of the best moments in Dream Theater history! Overall: 9/10

4.Erotomania: When I first heard this song, I didn't understood much at all. But I have grown into it, and I've learned to like it. Many beautiful melodies and many cool riffs! It's a great piece of progmetal and one of the best intrumental songs by DT! Overall: 8/10

5.Voices: This might be one of those songs that shows what the album is all about. Not because of the lyrics, but the music. But this song is not one of the best songs off the album. Overall: 7/10

6.The Silent Man: This is simply a good song. Not much to say about it... Overall: 7/10

7.The Mirror: I love the organ sound of the keyboard in the beginning and I there's many cool, heavy riffs in this heavy metal piece. This is a good song, thx to Kevin Moore. Kevin Moore make this album really special. Overall: 7/10

8.Lie: Well this song is like a continuing of "The Mirror" and they sound kinda similiar. Great guitar solos by Petrucci! Overall: 7/10

9.Lifting Shadows off a Dream: One of the better songs off the album! This is one of those songs that really gives you that special feeling that like a mystery comes around with this album! Overall: 8/10

10.Scarred: I like the lyrics and the vocals very much in this song! This is also one of the better songs off the album. Overall: 8/10

11.Space-Dye Vest: And so it ends, with a highlight! Turn up the volume, turn the lights off and enjoy! You'll simply get touched, so beautiful, this is one reason why I think it's sad that Kevin Moore left the band! And I have to say that James LaBrie does one of his best vocal performances ever!! Overall: 10/10

Total rating: 7,6/10

Report this review (#122823)
Posted Sunday, May 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars With just about all of the DT releases in my music collection, I can safely say that this is one of my least favorites. Granted, there are some really good songs on here. 6:00, Innocence Faded, and Erotomania are some classic songs but others just can't seem to hold my interest. Scarred and Voices, which should be the strongest tracks just don't seem to have that much melody. Songs like The Mirror with that terrible down-tuned chord over and over again just isn't as good as, say Metropolis or Lie. I just can't really get into this album like I can some of their other ones. Enough good songs on here to justify purchasing it, but it's just not consistant all the way through. I recommend Images and Words, or for those who like heavier stuff Systematic Chaos.
Report this review (#125974)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the commercial success of their 2nd album, "Images and Words", Dream Theater decided to create their darkest album called "Awake".

The result is brilliant: no weak track, good lyrics, creativity and musicality at their climax. However, LaBrie's singing is not particularly good in this album.

- "6:00" and "Caught in a web" open the albumin a heavy way. A good start. 8/10 + 8,5/10 - "Innocence faded" is IMO the least interesting song of the album : quite commercial compared to the rest of the album and a bit repetitive 6/10 - A Mind besides itself : the masterpiece of the album: --> "Erotomania" is one of the best instrumental ever done by Dream Theater. All the musicians are really impressive in this track. 10/10 --> "Voices" is in my opinion the best DT song ever. The changes of rythm are always well realized, and LaBrie's singing is very impressive in this track. This song releases such an emotion, such an intensity, that we don't realize the tracks lasts 10 minutes. 10/10 --> Silent Man is an accoustic ballad, quite pleasant to hear. 8/10 - "The Mirror"/ "Lie" : good metal songs, about Portnoy's addiction to alcohol. Not the most progressive tracks of the album, but good tracks nevertheless. 8,5/10 + 8,5/10 - "Lifting Shadows off a Dream" : one of the best tracks in the album, with an impressive work by Moore, that gives much emotion to this song. 9/10 - "Scarred" : this song is a bit too long. Great moments combined with useless ones. If it had been shortened, it would have been a greater song. 8,5/10 - "Space Dye Vest" : Moore's testament to the band. Emotionnally the best DT track ever. 10/10

Some reviewers think that Dream theater is an overrated band. I think that this album is the most underrated album. IMO, Awake is the best DT album, even before "Images and Words" and "Metropolis part 2"

Deserves big 5 stars

Report this review (#129898)
Posted Monday, July 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Most of the album really didn't catch me at all, you could here that 90's grunge/ambiance in it; as far as it is a Dream Theater album, it's not their best.

6:00: Sounded rather overdone and obtuse. 3/5 Stars.

Caught In A Web: James Labrie really made listening to this song hard for me. 3/5 stars.

Innocence Faded: Has an annoying 90's vibe. 3/5 Stars.

Erotomania: Even though this song is a bit dry, it's better than the previous tracks, it's also a bit of a relief not to hear any singing or that 90's ambiance cr*p as much. 4/5 Stars.

Voices: 3/5 Stars. It's not bad, it's just not great.

The Silent Man: An attempt to get radioplay? I'm not sure, but they kind of just threw this song in...4/5 Stars. Derelict Lyrics that show more creativity than some of the other tracks.

The Mirror: An attempt to make a heavy song.....It turns into sliced cheese after a few plays. 3/5 Stars

Lie: Their is a video on this song that really shows what they were trying to do: gather more fans and forget about the art of music...3/5 stars. An attempt to make a heavy song with sort of a pop vibe...

Lifting Shadows Off a Dream: A bit slow, takes a while for it to actually build into a song, not bad...3/5 stars.

Scarred: This song kind of goes along with the previous track...3/5 stars.

Space Dye Vest: 2/5 stars....I'm not sure what they were trying to do or prove here, but it's the dullest song that really leaves you wanting more.....yeah...*laughs*.

Well, I know some consider this a masterpiece, but from my stand-point, this is one of DT's weaker albums. From James Labrie's sketchy vocals to a cheesy 90's ambiance...The only thing notable here is the skill of the players. If you want to get into DT try 6 Degrees of Inner Turbulence.

55 total points

34/55=61%=2 Stars

Fans Only, it's not a good introductry album if your trying to get into DT. The music is generally not bad, but it's just not good either.

Report this review (#132231)
Posted Wednesday, August 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Right from the start we hear that Dream Theater ditched the 80's hair metal sound in favor of a drier grunge sound that was popular at the time. But that can be expected of Dream Theater, always following the newest trends instead of setting them. Actually this album is probably the band's best attempt at creating their own sound. The focus is not on speedy exchanges between guitars and keyboards as on the more recent albums, but on creating songs with a live feel and powerful emotional delivery. James LaBrie changes his voice to a more raspy one, perhaps trying to imitate Kurt Cobain?. But this is probably the best his voice has ever sounded, he's incredible here! Petrucci's solos are his best and most memorable ones and his tone is also the best he has captured in the studio. "Awake" is very moody and not immediately comprehensible which is the opposite of most other DT albums that are superficially complicated.
Report this review (#132603)
Posted Saturday, August 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an ultimate DREAM THEATER album.

Yes, there are best album (SFAM), worst album (FII), debut album etc. But if you never heard “Awake”, you never know what DREAM THEATER really is. All of their hooks are here in their best form: LaBrie sings in his best way, vocals are varied and differ in mood and manner; Petrucci provides excellent solos (neo-classical one in “Erotomania”) and crunchy riffs (“Lie”!!!); Moore is wonderful with his touching piano in “Space-Dye Vest” and heavy church organ in “Scarred”; Portnoy is simply flawless – just listen to “6.00” intro!; and Myung as good as always, providing some stunning backs for guys’ show-ups :) (like in Neo-Prog-like “Lifting Shadows Off A Dream”). “Lie” and “The Silent Man” are hit-singles supplied with nice videos. Band was on their top when Kevin suddenly decided to leave. For hundreds of fans still it means the End of Golden Era, and I’m afraid, I must agree with them here. Despite some tracks I have personal issues with (can’t stand “Innosence Faded”!), “Awake” is a solid record and a Must for any Prog-Metal devotee.

Best tracks: “Voices”, “The Mirror”, “Lie”, “Space-Dye Vest”

Best moments: Petrucci’s neo-classical solo in “Erotomania”, “The Mirror” intro, riff in “Lie”, heavy organ parts in “Scarred”

Report this review (#134154)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It's 1994, Prog-Metal vs. Grudge, and progmetal starts to take form with this fantastic album.

Before I start the review, my obtain-tion of this album has an iteresting anecdote to it. The local record store had recently reorganized it's shelves, and the metal section now resided where country had previously been. Used to the change, a friend and I (then a metalhead) searched our usual artists until we noticed a man with an attendant searching what was the old metal section, now electronica, in a quizzative fashion. Noticing that the one man was blind I called them over to what they were apperently looking for. Having money to blow and looking for a new band to get into I asked my friend what he suggested, he haden't a clue. It was then that the blind man spoke up and suggested a band I haden't heard of, Dream Theater. "Awake" was $10, and the blind man said it was "a great album, definately worth the money." Needless to say, I listened to him. That day apperently changed my life, I needed more of this music, more of the music that inspired this Dream Theater, and that's how I would later get to artists like Rush, Yes and so on. But with all that behind me, Awake still remains one of my favorite albums of all time, but I'll give a non Biased review.

And here it is:

While Grudge raged in the early 90s, this band was still trying to revive a fallen genre, and while it eventually would, this remains one of Dream Theater's finest works. Starting wit the heavy 6:00, the album moves on, twisting and turning between a nice mix of metal and Progressive. Songs like CAUGHT IN A WEB and INNOCENCE FADED reveal a band in the metal-turned-gurdge world, while other such as the fantastic SCARRED and SPACED DYE VEST reveal a more progressive side. More interesting yet, the band manages to combine the two aforementioned styles in a few of the songs, with great results. LIE and THE MIRROR are a few tracks that would truely define the genre of Progressive metal.

Likely the best secton of this album is (albiet split) epic A MIND BESIDE ITSELF. Divided into 3 tracks, this is a song thatonly Dream Theater could pull off. Starting with the instmental EROTOMANIA, reminicent of their inspirers: Rush, this is a track that's hard to beat, and easily flow into the next part, VOICES. This is a fantasic track, complete with all the harsh, sreaming vocals, soft part vocals, heavy drums, shredding riffs and stunning bass that DT is capable of, and remains one of their crowning glories. Coming to a close the song ends wit the peaceful THE SILENT MAN, which is a nice mellow track with some hauting vocals and lyrics that I've always found to be a great part of the album.

Although the band would go through a variety of changes that would wield harsh critisism from fans and critics alike, this is a great, timeless album that should go down as one of the genre's best. This is an effort that deserves no less than 5 stars. But the moral of the story mentioned above is: "Always listen to blind people, they know music." I know I will.

Report this review (#137495)
Posted Sunday, September 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I like "Dream Theater" when they mix metal music with prog elements. But, let's be honest, the first two numbers "6:00" and "Caught In A Web" are pure heavy rock. Even if Labrie will deliver some (short) melodic moments during the latter one.

Almost logically, the rock ballad "Innocence Faded" is more appealing to me. Nice acoustic guitar and high pitched vocals. It is of course more than just a rock ballad; but this is typical for DT. A "classic rock" piece of music actually. Very good guitar work from Petrucci. He will also have the opportunity to demonstrate his skills in the instrumental "Erotomania". Heavy and soft will live together here; and the mix works pretty well.

This will also be the recipe for one of the longest song of the album : "Voices". Another very pleasant hard-rock song which should please lots of fans of this genre (hard-rock, I mean). Complex rhythms at times, enjoyable vocals partition, powerful keyboards prolonged with a great guitar solo. It constrats nicely with the acoustic ballad "The Silent Man". I am not too keen on acoustic pieces, so I won't be over-enthusiastic about this one.

The intro of "The Mirror" reminds me in a way of "Kashmir". But very soon it will get crazier and then totally wild (the best moments) just before LaBrie enters the scene. It is the parts of the song I like the least. Instrumental sections are fine but these vocals here are rather annoying. The last section though is pure heavy-style and less interesting. It goes on with "Lie" without that the listener can notice the transition. Noy any better. "Dream Theater" reverts into the softer territories with "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream". More keyboards oriented than usual but not essential.

The longest number "Scarred" almost starts with a space-rock feeling. But shortly after, the listener is brought back into DT 's universe. From ballad to rock to metal for the last four minutes or so. One of the best track of this album. A tranquil "Space Dye Vest" will close this quite well balanced album: some heavy ones, a hard-rock one, a good rock "ballad", an acoustic track... Here and there some weaker numbers as well.

These could have been avoided if only the album would have been shorter (by fifteen minutes or so). Still, even if it is a very long album (almost the maximum CD lenght available is used) it is never boring. Three stars.

Report this review (#138686)
Posted Sunday, September 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dream Theater, this band never was or is one of my fav bands, but some albums i find it better than others. From albums that i find good, excellent and even essential is Awake. This is the third release and a change of sound, darker and it's evident on entire album. There is complex structure of the pieces that for sure pleases every prog metal fan not only DT fans. Some very strong pieces are first 4+ Voices. Not forget, this is the last album with Kevin Moore on keys, he left not long after to pursue other musical directions. All in all a 4 star album and one their best so far, maybe to others is not as good as i rate here, because of the dark/heavy sound, but for sure we can't deny the the musical ability's of this band.
Report this review (#141366)
Posted Monday, October 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I Remember waiting for this album outside the recordstore on the day of it´s release. The album was highly anticipated and I ditched school that day to sit down and listen to the new Dream Theater album Awake. I was very surprised as it didn´t sound much like Images and Words. But after continued listens it ended up being a classic album for me.

I just love the drums that start the album off. They always make me feel good. And this is exactly what the rest of the album also does to me. It makes me feel good. This is not particularly happy music, but it´s just so cool.

The production is godly and Kevin Moore gets to use more keyboard sound on Awake than he did on Images and Words which makes this album a little more diverse. The same can be said about John Petrucci. He uses so many different guirar sounds on Awake that I can´t count them. Especially in a song like Erotomania which is an instrumental tour de force. John P also introduced his 7 string guitar on this album, which means that some of the songs are played in a very low key which sounds really heavy: Mirror and Lie.

The album is a masterpiece and Dream Theater proved that they could still evolve their style without losing melody. I love this album and always will.

Report this review (#149862)
Posted Saturday, November 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is my favorite DT album. Images & Words and Scenes are equally perfect from an objective standpoint (if I had to recommend one I wouldn't know which to choose) but this one is best balanced IMO. Scenes has that Rudess influence which moved DT a tiny bit closer to ELP, Images & Words is a tiny bit less "metal" than Awake. On Awake you have it all ... and I really like Kevin Moore's contribution, which adds an - if even only on the subconscious level - experimental and slightly avant-garde feeling, not only on Space-Dye Vest.

In a nutshell this album has all which makes Prog Metal the wonderful genre which it is - if you're into this sort of thing. Of course there are many reasons to dislike it ... outstanding musicianship, crystal clear production, amazing bandwidth of musical styles from soft/acoustic to heavy/thrash, you name it.

The only problems I have with the album are a few passages where LaBrie sings in registers which are on the fringes of what he's capable of - it's a bit better than on I&W though - and the track Lifting Shadows Off a Dream, which is perhaps the earliest example of DT honoring U2 and is simply not a particularly noteworthy song IMO.

But that still leaves us with over an hour of pure masterpiece.

6:00: What an amazing way to start an album. A perfect track.

Caught In A Web: A very well rounded track ... and it starts with a wonderful rhythmic pattern (3/4 in 16th feel).

Innocence Faded: A really nice track, but the last minute is nothing short of amazing!

Erotomania: This would later be one of the key points of the "Instrumedley". Is it overplayed? Yeah, maybe. But that's the point! It's way over the top, but at the same time they play it so effortlessly ... especially live it always has that "jar-dropping" effect on people who witness it for the first time. And I dare to say that even with all this virtuosity they play it with feeling.

Voices: A very beautiful track, and a perfect counterpart to the very dense Erotomania. It's simply awesome to listen through Erotomania and then there's this spacey, atmospheric with the effects-ladden keyboards and guitars ... eerie, surreal are attributes which begin to describe it.

And then comes ... the second half. "This isn't reality" ... quite true, this is indeed a Dream Theater.

The Silent Man: A very nice acoustic piece, together with the previous two tracks it forms an epic of sorts called "A Mind Beside Itself".

The Mirror: The heaviest track on the album - and the intro is just ... cool, with the drums changing the rhythm while the underlying guitar riff remains unchanged. The only thing that tops this is how the song segues into then next track.

Lie: Simply gorgeous how the track slowly chugs on in a "verbose" 16th rhythm while Moore's distorted keyboards play slow bends in the background. The song is very heavy, but also very cool and laid back ... especially in the middle part (I guess you could call it a bridge) where the drums suddenly change the grouping (from 4-4-4-4 they change to 6-6, from binary to ternary). Then a short quirky interlude, solo and back to the original track.

Lifting Shadows Off a Dream: I don't like U2 too much ... and this song owes a lot to them (Where the Streets Have No Name/I Still Haven't Found ..., anyone?). Add to that LaBrie's struggle with the high register notes ... my least favorite track.

Scarred: Petrucci plays the Blues ... I like it very much. The licks he plays in the intro are *very* tasty, very melodic. Then of course the main verse kicks in and the Blues is gone. Still, an unusual DT track, the riffing reminds me a bit of what they later did on Falling Into Infinity. The only problem is that it's a tiny bit too long, which is due to the repetitive outro.

Space-Dye Vest: Pure Brilliance. Dream Theater goes Depeche Mode / Experimental Dark Wave. Many people would have liked to hear more Kevin Moore influenced work with DT, but it wasn't meant to be. Of course quite some years later Portnoy and Moore would get together again for a very nice project (OSI) which really reminds me of Space-Dye Vest a lot - not so much the actual music but the slightly subversive and dark mood of the piece.

Report this review (#149936)
Posted Saturday, November 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Awake is considered by many to be Dream Theater's greatest album, and it is difficult to argue that it is not a defining release for mid 90's prog metal. Awake symbolises, much like Train of Thought, the peak of one period of DT's music. Moore never sounded better than he does here, and like Rudess nowadays, his sound and technique pretty much defines DT's sound - it pushes it one way or another, defines the mood and style of each peice within its type: that is to say, during the ballads, his playing defines it from other ballads, during the metal songs, his playing defines it from other metal songs. Much is said about Moore's ability to provide atmosphere, and it is here that one can find the best evidence for it. LaBrie's vocals are as good here as they have been to date.

From 6:00 onward, this album is sublime. The album is divided into three segments: the first comprises the singles, the standalone songs, (6:00, Caught in a web, Innocence faded) the second is A mind beside itself, a three part suite, and the third is long, interlinked, comprised of five songs. The first section is really a great presentation of how prog can be effective as a more conventional song length and aim without losing its edge. 6:00 and Caught in a web are both heavy, (6:00 having something to do with Joyce's The Dead, - I know all about the honour of God, Mary Jane - but I'm not sure what,) and Innocence faded, one of DT's most effective ballads, provides a nice contrast to these two, also seperating them from the heaviness of Erotomania. All of these songs have killer moments in them, which is evidence for the good song construction that characterised DT in this period. What follows this opening adress is the 20 minute three part suite, A mind beside itself. The opening section, Erotomania, still stands toe- to-toe with some of DT's best instrumentals. It's all here: the complex riffs, the technical pyrotechnics, the strange melody, the expertise of composition. Voices is a wandering, varied section which comprises the main body of the suite, and as such it is fairly dark. The silent man is another ballad-like entry, that provides a gentle resolution to the whole piece.

The next section begins with a miny section, The mirror/Lie, which really shows off how good LaBrie was pre-vocal chord problems. He is agressive and powerful, snarling and emotive, without losing any melodic integrity, an effort which puts many of his contempories to shame. The mirror is heavy, sounding more so because Moore leaves it desolate for the most part. Lie is by comparison far more energetic.

Next, Lifting shadows off a dream, another ballad to balance the preceding heaviness. Scarred again provides some bulk, and Space- dye vest is a fairly dark way to end the album, which is always something I find effective (major endings normally seeming somewhat trite)

Overall, this is the best album of DT's first period, and therefore one that anyone serious about Prog should have.

Report this review (#151820)
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars At one point in my prog history this was my all time favourite album but that was at least a decade ago and I have much more material now to choose from and also my taste has changed slightly and not in favour of this album. I mean I still think Awake is really great but I'm not thrilled about it anymore. The great strength was (and is) the overall performance, all songs are very good and some outstanding but even my favourite track of the album by far (Voices) doesn't give me the same feeling as ten years ago.

About the album: it's more or less a concept album about a psychological (and social) disorientated person very well expressed in the lyrics in each song. It's a very emotional album and it has always struck me that amongst DT fans that either you are extremely fond of this album or you hardly like it at all. This is also noticeable in the ratings above with lots of 5 and quite some 1 star reviews.

It's a pity it has faded on me because I would have liked to give it the full 5 but I would be a liar if I did that so I can only give 4.

Report this review (#152006)
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Dream Theater - Awake 5.0 stars.

Dream Theater embarked on a venture into even more exploration after their wonderful album 'Images and Words'. The line-up hasn't changed since the previous album, which ensures that it emanated a good feeling. Unfortunately this is last album to feature the brilliant Kevin Moore on keyboard as well as the driven lyrics he contributed. This is Dream Theater's most diverse album aside from possibly 'Octavarium'. This album contains the best guitar work yet from Petrucci, Portnoy's most powerful drumming and LaBrie's vocal performance was probably his best on this record. All of the tracks on this album were very progressive.all over the place, but you can sense there was structure in the songs, a reason behind the madness.

'6:00' starts off with crazy drum-work from Portnoy.probably my favorite of all his stuff. The track is very dark in atmosphere with the keyboard sound is haunting and the guitar work is heavy. The vocals of the song are low for LaBrie, but are well suited when pared with the excellent keyboard and guitar solos are included in the equation. One of my favorite DT tracks.

'Caught in a Web' is my least favorite on the album. The music is still very good; it just leaves you a little unsatisfied after the wonderful '6:00'. Again the vocal work is quite exceptional and it has a powerful intro.

'Innocence Faded' is a very pleasant song. There are a lot of great melodies in this track and it there are tons of mood changes in the piece. The track culminates with an awesome guitar solo.

'A Mind Beside Itself' (Erotomania, Voices, The Silent Man) is one track divided into three parts and is done wonderfully. 'Erotomania' is an awesome instrumental to check out. 'Voices' is a powerful track that starts out very haunting; the song is very melancholic from a lyrical perspective with the instruments only enhancing this effect. The piece ends with 'The Silent Man' which features wonderful acoustic work as well as passages from the prior to songs brought back in which really puts the grand track to a close.excellent work.

'The Mirror' and 'Lie' also mesh right into one another. 'The Mirror' starts with an intense guitar riff, quite possible the heaviest Petrucci riff of the first three albums. The keyboard work is very imposing and yet again haunting, fitting perfectly with the heavy guitar tone and LaBrie's harsh vocals. At about the 3:30 mark the track drastically changes to a very uplifting tone.but the lyrics stay dark and the vocals remain still harsh and you are brought right back into the chaos. At 5:15 contains my favorite Dream Theater melody.its great yet tragic as it is entirely too short. Then slowly the song builds up, becoming gradually louder and louder with a crunchy guitar riff repeated but the dynamics and harmonics are added to it to spice it up, only leading right into 'Lie', which is freaking awesome. The song has catchy vocal work and an awesome guitar riff that repeats throughout. These two make up my favorite on the album.

'Lifting Shadows off a Dream' is a powerful ballad. This is a stand out song in their discography and rightfully so as within it is great guitar, drum and vocal work. The song is very peaceful and the instruments convey it nicely.

'Scarred' is the most underrated song in Dream Theater's repertoire, as you never hear anything about this track compared to pieces of the same nature like 'Metropolis', 'Learning to Live', 'Beyond this Life', 'Home', etc. This track to me shows their songwriting potential fulfilled. The song just keeps progressing further and further; to hell with structure and in came adventurous, true prog. The keyboard and guitar solos were just kick ass and then cut right back to the chorus. The outro to the song was long and wonderful and probably one of their best.

'Space-Dye Vest' is Kevin Moore's swansong. I find it hilarious that Portnoy said that he and the band hated the song and regret ever releasing it, in his forums. The song is the most unique piece in the Dream Theater collection. This extremely dark song is made up of acoustic piano and voice. Once in a while Petrucci fades in and Portnoy might come in on a beat but that's about it till the end of the song. This is the only song where there is a prominent use of samples besides 'The Great Debate' and 'Sacrificed Sons' although they're to a lesser extent and in the end the whole band comes together for the finale with Petrucci plays the piano melody and Portnoy does simple drum-work while the chorus is repeated. This was a very tight song and wonderful way to end the album.

'Awake' is an extremely well thought-out album for Dream Theater. This goes right under 'Images and Words' in my book. I'd have to say this was their most diverse effort while maintaining integrity by not trying to make each track sound different like on some other albums. This album would be a high recommendation if you want to hear Dream Theater present a good job on their heavy side.

Report this review (#154681)
Posted Friday, December 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars For my is one of the Dream Theater's best albums that can exist, and possesses songs of good enough level.Undoubtedly that is a piece that there must have all the fans of the Progressive Metal.

It takes some jewels as a Erotomania, Scarred, 6:00, between others.

Really it is a disc that was remaining as one of the Dream Theater's best albums, but to my seeming is maybe secondly the best the alone one under Images and Words .

Dream Theater does it again, an excellent material and a good addition for your collection of Progressive Rock.

Report this review (#162321)
Posted Thursday, February 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album was a bit hard for me to digest as I am not a fan of that 90's-esque sound that is featured on Awake. But nonetheless this is one of Dream Theater's more solid albums. The first track 6:00 is a very unique song by Dream Theater that doesn't really sound like anything else I have heard by them, but with all of the voice backgrounds and such I found this as bit of an overkill. There are many things that I found annoying on this album; such as the mix and the overuse of cheesy sound effects, but Dream Theater has progressed to use these sound effects, well at least to make them less annoying... Caught in a web is a solid song, nothing really here that blows you away. The album starts picking up with Innocence Faded. Here Dream Theater starts showing their true ability, even though it was a bit of a hard listen for me. Erotomania I would have to say is the album's high point as it shows their musicianship and progressive abilities. Another thing you may have to be aware of about this album is James Labrie's vocals. To my ears he doesn't match the vibe of the music sometimes, but then again, what other singer could fit this? The album goes on with Voices another solid song that took some warming up to. On this song I realized the weakness of the album's lyrics, the vocals seem pushed and a bit obscured, but they work, just nothing great. The Silent Man is nothing amazing, but rather a ballad that progresses a bit along the way. The Mirror is a very sad attempt to be heavy and make metal. To my ears this was horrible, cheesy and unbearable, but you should take a listen to judge for yourself. Lie is another attempt to make something heavy, but more for the mainstream, a cheesy failed attempt in my opinion. Silent Man and Lie lead more into the mainstream and away from progression. Lifting shadows of a dream and scarred are two long songs that I found really dull uninspired and unfitting with Labrie's vocals. After Voices this album starting going downhill for me. The last track is a bit experimental and compared to the last two sold, almost leans toward a somber psychedelic sound. So all in all this album is solid with the exception of The Mirror and Lie. Scarred and Lifting shadows were a bit weak too, but that's just because they sound uninspired to me. Notable tracks include Erotomania, Voices, Innocence faded, and the rest is just solid. If you can take the mix of James Labrie's screeching voice and a 90's cheesy synth mix this album is for you! Otherwise your going have to force it down like me... Keep Proggin!

Report this review (#165737)
Posted Saturday, April 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Most of this album sounds like the same Dream Theater song to me. All of the tracks blur together, and James LaBrie's voice risies to irritating levels at some point in almost every song. 'The Silent Man' strays ways from the formula and is pretty well done, but it is nothing spectacular. 'The Mirror' is a loud rocker that is better than average. There are some killer solos in there. 'Space Dye Vest' is another track that is different and this is probably my favourite track on the album, but it is no masterpiece.
Report this review (#170486)
Posted Saturday, May 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ka-BOOM !

Awake, Dream Theater's 1994 release, is their best album being a masterpiece of progressive metal. Like all records, Awake is unique in it's own way: unlike Images and Words, the music is very jazzy and spans into neoclassical metal from times to times. Also, the sound is dirtier, the guitar riffs are harder and the vocals rougher. Not to mention that the production eliminates any glam metal sound influence that was so annoying on the previous full length album.

The compositions are complex and are executed quickly giving the music tenacity and making it more dynamic. There is a certain urban attitude in Awake that somehow gives you the impression that you are in the middle of New York with all the noise and agitation. Going further than Hendrix's Crosstown Traffic, the guitar is the melody created by the speeding cars cutting through the thick air, the drums are the doors slamming everywhere and the constant move of thousands of feet while the bass is the downed tuned voices of everybody chit-chatting leaving the keys to represent the sirens, the honks and other typical metropolitan sounds. This sort of atmosphere is totally different than the one on Images and Words that featured a more infantile attitude. It can be said the Dream Theater left home for the big city and what a mature decision it was!

Awake has no weak points, no doubt about it, but I have to put emphasis on some tracks that I particularly enjoyed. For starters, 6 o'Clock is harsh and mad with it's avant-garde guitar riffs that can be noticed in the beginning and with those strong vocals that are the best LaBrie has to offer. The next one, Caught in a Web, is even harder and more ecstatic. Erotomania is a first class instrumental that has it all, neoclassical metal, heavy metal intense solos and jazzy layout that is more prominent on Lie. This song is a representative for the entire record and my personal favourite.

The moods inspired by Awake are peace - The Silent Man - euphoria and self-confidence - 6 o'Clock and melancholy - Space-Dye Vest and Voices. Dream Theater have always been known for creating very good ballads because of their originality. Most ballads follow a similar musical line that songs like The Silent Man don't pursue . In addition, the last track is a semi-ballad the is quite unconventional.

To conclude, I find Awake a perfect unity between creativity, technique and originality. I believe this album is essential not only for progressive metal but for music.

Report this review (#170863)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Dream Theater is a band that, at best, I've only had a passive interest in. On AWAKE, Dream Theater makes an interesting move by shortening their songs (for the most part) and getting heavier with the metal. ''The Mirror'' and ''Lie'' are amongst the heaviest songs I've ever heard from them and I'm familiar with some Rudess-era material (of which I think takes a deeper dive into metal).

The metal songs here are done well and make a lasting impression. Songs like ''6:00'', ''Erotomania'' and ''Scarred'' have as much fist-pumping power as they do complexity. John Petrucci is at a playing apex here as many heavy guitar riffs and flashy solos dominate AWAKE in a good way. Surprisingly, the keyboards mix very well into the songs.

However, when the band goes astray from the metal, it isn't all worth looking at. ''The Silent Man'' is nothing more than a short acoustic piece that doesn't sound right coming after the powerful ''Voices''. ''Innocence Faded'' and ''Lifting Shadows'' are two subpar pop-metal songs that aren't really worth discovering. ''Space Dye Vest'' is at best okay, but it's too sleepy for me; poignancy is good in music, but this is almost too much.

Even if songs like ''Voices'' and ''Scarred'' are really good, I get impatient as both last too long for my comfort zone. It's pretty uneven of an album for me, so let's try three stars as a warning rating.

Report this review (#173646)
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I believe Dream Theater's story has a great wall which splits their life in two parts, which can be named pre- and after- Kevin Moore. KM's departure during the mixing of Awake set a change in DT's music depth and development. What we can hear is the last witness of a dark deep talent in DT's mood. This album is dark, deep, complex, disquieting. Most detractors label it as cold and hypertechnical. I believe this album IS cold, but its coldness is the sound of a sharping razor, the feeling of pain and despair, the voice of a mind forever trembling and aching. Most dretactors label it as the sound of nails on glass. I believe this is more like the sound of nails on the soul. The refrain of 6.00 gives the perfect feeling of the solitude of the every-man. Voices, one the most-beautiful songs of the band, is a journey through passions and memories throbbling in the mind of a man. We could go on, but I don't want to write a review song by song: the essential is that we will never listen such a great symphony of technical and disturbing music. The hypertechnical musical effort is devoted to depicture this great concept. DT will never repeat it again, passing on a more-easy-listening kind of music, less original and more derived from the 70s melodic prog. I believe that Kevin Moore's touch is what could make DT able to create this unique and original masterpiece (a side note: you can still hear Moore's dark touches in the last Fates Warning records, or in OSI). The prove of it is the final Space-Dye Vest, a short work of piano and sampling which cuts your breath, bringing in your mind all your memories of forlorn-love. I still shiver listening to this CD, and I will always mark it as one of the essential masterpieces of prog everytime.
Report this review (#173666)
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm personally not a huge metal fan but when its still well constructed like this its enjoyable. This is a decent album with some great metal tracks and the drums and guitar parts are very impressive. My favourites on the album ar probably Voices, Lie and Erotomania. Again, not much of a headbanger but this album does make you want to do just that. Some of the softer tracks are also fairly good but I liked the heavier, rawer ones. As well, La Brie's vocals are edgy but still melodic making them work with the music. Another good aspect of this album is that it contains some nice keyboard work and there are a few classical influences in the songs. Defenently darker than their previous albums but this is a good change and lets Dream Theatre rock out a little more.
Report this review (#178297)
Posted Sunday, July 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#178435)
Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Say what you will about Dream Theater, but when these guys so desire, they are capable of crafting truly masterful music. Awake, released in 1994 and produced by John Purdell and Duane Baron, is the epitome of this statement. Every song is related, the most antithetical compositions somehow married through tone and intent. Gone are the power metal lyrics and missing are the endless keyboard-guitar duels; in their place appear flawless demonstrations of songwriting that are complex in execution rather than flamboyance.

Although the band definitely holds back, to call the record "restrained" would be a somewhat misleading statement. It could be argued that throughout Awake the band demonstrates more precise instrumentation than ever before, and I'd be selling their efforts short without mention of several eye-opening solos throughout. John Petrucci is at the top of his game here, educating the listener with ingenious placement of riff and rip while never crossing the line into self-indulgence. Mike Portnoy showcases a flurry of chugging and blitzing on the kit that is always excellent, his virtuoso bones shuddering at the precise "Erotomania" and everything in him that is heavy grimacing in the raw power of "The Mirror". John Myung is, as usual, turned down a tad low in the mix but his presence is always felt (especially on rockers "6:00," "Caught in a Web" and "Lie").

The stand-out performers on the disc are unquestionably James LaBrie and Kevin Moore. LaBrie roars and howls his way through every track and ends up stealing the show. It would be fair to claim that, had LaBrie not turned in a flawless studio performance, Awake would have failed. Each song on the record deals with an intimate issue - be that relationships, doubt, or faith - and without a convincing vocal performance, the lyrical matter would come off as melodramatic (I'm still not sure how he pulls off "Innocence Faded" without sounding cheesy). Most vocalists would grimace and flutter at the need for this kind of depth, but whenever needed LaBrie answers the call and takes several solid songs to otherworldly levels.

Kevin Moore, in his last Dream Theater performance, is an absolute monster. Moore thrives on moody, bleak, well thought-out music, and so one can imagine just how apt his abilities were for these songs. Moore doesn't strive to stand out like Jordan Rudess or (to a lesser extent) Derek Sherinian. He blends all sounds and ideas seamlessly within a grander scheme, always adding texture but rarely straying from the backdrops. As scenarios evolved with the rest of his comrades, Moore decided, among other things, that his interests were evolving while the rest of the band narrowly focused on individualism and wankery and therefore he needed to bolt. Strangely, Awake fits that bill least of anything Dream Theater has done to date.

Just take a look at "The Silent Man" or "Lifting Shadows off a Dream". These are two breathers, two mellow pieces that aim to sooth rather than astonish. They are never taken over by instrumental sections in excess like later Dream Theater ballads (perhaps "Endless Sacrifice" or "The Ministry of Lost Souls"), but are instead tame throughout. The only soloing here is done to add flavor and color, not to change tone or to speed things up.

Everything the band has strived for and will ever strive for comes together on two occasions: "Voices" and "Scarred". The former is John Petrucci's tale about just how hard it is to have faith at times, boasting great lyrics and remarkable keyboard work. "Scarred" is perhaps the greatest thing Dream Theater has ever done, Petrucci again exploring his soul and doing so with breathtaking relation. These words echo with familiarity and you always know what he's aiming for. You always know what he's going through.

As a final ode, Kevin Moore contributes "Space-Dye Vest", a blatant lyrical antithesis to Petrucci's accumulation of hope. With "Caught in a Web", "Innocence Faded", "Voices", "The Silent Man", and "Scarred" JP tells a slow-churning tale of eventual self discovery and escape from pity. At the beginning of our journey this protagonist is wounded, unsure, and alone. By the end of his crisis, he is content, driven, and confident in the support around him. Kevin Moore's penwork with "6:00", "Lie", and "Space-Dye Vest" paints a less optimistic picture for the listener. The words he writes leave us distraught even as our anecdotes come to a close, which, sadly, is very congruous with the point KM himself was at when he left the band.

Awake is the pinnacle of what Dream Theater music can be: five musicians, each being one of the forerunners of their respective instrumental (or vocal) nuances, uniting as one in the name of song. There is nothing immature or feeble about this album. Awake contains eleven songs of considerable quality, depth, and achievement. In the world of progressive metal, much material is often overlooked (many times rightfully so), and because of this many never realize what a gem Awake is.

Simply put, it is one of the most emotionally stirring, relating, and powerful records ever made in the world of heavy music.

© Kevin Martell (TheOutlawXanadu)

Report this review (#179402)
Posted Monday, August 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars The album is little bit longer,than it should be! The songs are longer than they should,too! It's full of repetitions. The album is good in terms of technical abilities, but most if the songs are boring and the problem is the lack of melody in there. There are a few instruments and vocals, but I would like to ask where is the melody? That make all of the songs boring and the album boring as whole. Here in Awake we can find one of the best Dream Theater's songs - Erotomania - it's just great and it's one of the most progressive songs I've ever heard.6:00,Caught in a Web and Voices are somewhat good songs,but everything else is boring. The length of the album is negative for its overall quality. Probably the reason for the success of the album is the success of the previous one,which is quite better, but very overrated, too! Decent album with one special hint!
Report this review (#184854)
Posted Monday, October 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is Dream Theater's masterpiece, in my opinion, though it took me a long while to come to this conclusion.

First, you have to understand that the vibrant styles and colors of Images and Words have been turned into a dark aggression for this album. Now, me not being as much of a metal fan as I am of good old melody and fun, this initially turned me off. But as I started to actually delve into this less accessible work, I began to notice some things. First off, a lot of the darkness of the album comes from some creepy keys. Kevin Moore didn't seem to be very happy with the band, and his personal gloom somehow seems to show up in the music. The guitars and bass are really heavy here, and won't hit this kind of aggression again until Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Mike Portnoy really finds some places to unleash some of his favorite balls and chunk drumming, which suits the music style well. The only factor left is James LaBrie, who sings like a rottweiler in heat some of the time. At first, I really disliked his growly take on his normal hair metal voice, but after a while, I realized that his voice perfectly suits exactly what the band was going for musically. Angst and anger pour out of him in a very unique way that he will never replicate.

Also, there is an underlying binary nature to this album, I believe. There are two halves to this release, the second one beginning with The Mirror. The first half revolves around the overture of sorts Erotomania. Already known to be a piece with collected music from other songs on the album, I looked into it, and as far as I've figured out, it only corresponds with the first six tracks. The last five tracks all bear connection to the closing track, Space-Dye Vest. So, in essence, there are two halves of this album that are musically linked within themselves, but not as much together. The first half then ends up feeling more aggressive, more short tempered and energetic, while the second half seems to continue to fall back into reflection and a kind of soothing heaviness. Of course, that entire theory may be a load of bull. It's hard to tell from here, but examining the album from that perspective has made it more fun for me, anyways.

As far as individual tracks go, the album openers 6:00 and Caught in a Web are fairly similar, being both metal songs with keyboards running over the top. The drumming in the former and the guitar in the latter make both tracks unique and impressive. Innocence Faded is an often-slighted song with some cheesy high pitched singing and an outro that can make you wet your pants if you aren't watching carefully. Erotomania then jumps in, being seven vocal-less minutes mostly dedicated to John Petrucci's wild guitar. Indeed, some of his fastest and most highly-regarded shredding bits take place here. I'm glad they get the shredding out of their system on this song, where it fits just fine, and don't bother filling the rest of their songs with noodling. Voices continues from Erotomania, opening with a catchy bass riff in 9/something. James really lets fly with his voice in this track (and consequently becomes even harder to understand). The side, if you will, closes with the unfortunately short acoustic number, The Silent Man.

After a brief silence, The Mirror kicks in with shifting rhythms of some really heavy chugging on the 7-string's bass string. This part also is fairly famous, for some reason showing up in a number of WWE and similar sorts of professional wrestling environments. The music stays pretty heavy and unhappy for most of its length, before dissolving into our first taste of the Space-Dye Vest melody. An interesting little ending bit then segues into a double time version for the intro of Lie. This song is even more grouchy, and it also features not one but two tearing guitar solos (okay, yes, so the band breaks out the noodling here, too). Lifting Shadows off a Dream comes next, sounding kind of like a U2 song with heavy instruments. The album's longest track, Scarred, opens with a jazzy bass riff and a building guitar solo, breaking out in heavy moments when appropriate. The instrumental section towards the end is full of tasty solos and unisons, though the noodling does get distracting here, too. Finally, after a catchy fading outro, Space-Dye Vest wanders in, gentle pianos and building structure. It's a different song from most of Dream Theater's catalog, mostly because it was more or less written solely by Moore before he left. The band doesn't like it much, but it's an emotional and well-atmosphered track that offsets the random wildness throughout the album and ends it in a very unexpected way.

So in the end, we have an album that seems a bit more one-sided than its predecessor. However, the music turns darker and more complex. A very good album for Dream Theater fans to consider, and not too bad of a place to start, either, though most seem to have more luck with Images and Words or Scenes from a Memory first, as both are more accessible.

Report this review (#185273)
Posted Friday, October 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the first Dream Theater album I ever got. I loved it, although my two friends at that time, Jacob (WHITE WILLOW) and Trond (PANZERPAPPA) branded it as too heavy.

Compared to Images And Words, this is a very heavy album indeed. But I would not call it straight heavy metal. Awake has one foot firmly planted in prog rock and the other one in metal. Maybe this is DTs most heavy album. It is most certainly a good album. Songs like Caught In A Web, Innocence Faded, Erotomania and Voices are superb and there is no really weak part on this album. The vocals are superb. The guitars are the main instrument here and really drives the songs forward.

There is nothing here I dislike. A good 4 stars from me.

Report this review (#188499)
Posted Sunday, November 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The ultimate Dreamtheater Album!

After the success of Images and Words , Dreamtheather made a sudden change and created a much darker record. This album is not easy to get into mainly because of it's length. 75 minutes high quality progressive metal. However after the fifth or sixth listen it becomes a very rewarding experience , the band made eleven songs ranging from ballads , instrumentals , pure metal songs (with a twist) and potential hit singles.

The mucisianship is flawless , and what I like the most about this record is that every single second seems to have a purpose. You know , lots of times DreamTheather is criticized by being show offs and overdoing it( i include myself on this one) . But in Awake , they seemed to restrain themselves a bit in favour of music and composition , which was a great decision.Another particular aspect of the record is that , although is not a full blown concept album like SFAM it seems to drag a concept musically speaking , probably this is due to the middle part of the record which includes the 18 min suite A man beside itself and the duet Lie/The Mirror , the first part seems to concentrate on the subject of solitude and the second one on deception.

The dark , haunting athmosphere of the record was mainly created by Kevin Moore's keyboards. I will dedicate a couple of sentences to this mucisian and his performance in my review as he is , in my opinion the most talented and underapreciated mucisian the band ever had. His keyboard playing is so different from Rudess's. While the second one seems to carry a marathon of endless soloing with Petrucci , Moore was focused in adding the textures and little details to the record , the ones you keep on discovering after several listens ; much like Richard Wright or Chick Corea. As an example you may try the last three songs on the album

Of course , Kevin Moore can't make a DreamTheather album on himself. All the others members of the band were at the top of their game too with a slight emphasis on James La Brie , he really changed his singing from one album to another using different vocal tricks. Petrucci's guitar seems to have been downtoned a bit to help to enhance the heavier mood this album has. While Portnoy's drumming is solid throughout the record and lives up to his expectations especially on an all time favourite like Erotomania. Myung's bass... though I can hear him more than on Images and Words and the few I hear is exellent I would like to hear a remastered version of Awake to concentrate on his skills.

Suming up , I think it's a shame that DreamTheater did not follow this path but we always will be expecting for an album like this to come in the future.

The best progressive metal album I have ever heard. Masterpiece status.

Report this review (#191391)
Posted Monday, December 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am of the opinion that Images and Words is one of DREAM THEATER'S best albums. ONE of their best, but not THE best. That title would have to go to their third album, 1994's Awake. In my opinion, Awake epitomized DREAM THEATER'S sound to a ''T'', heavy guitars from John Petrucci, Kevin Moore's sweeping keyboards, and a strong, consistent rhythm section courtesy of John Myung (bass) and Mike Portnoy (drums), with James LaBrie's soaring wails thrown in for good measure.

There are two things that make Awake a unique album, that when combined makes for an wonderfully enjoyable listening experience from beginning to end. The first feature is atmosphere. Awake, at the time of its release, was much darker than Images and Words. Kevin Moore's keywork here is dark, heavy, and always sets the mood for a certain song. On songs like ''Voices'' and ''Lifting Shadows Off a Dream'', the key layers are thick, orchestral, ominous, foreboding, and just plain dark and brooding. Moore really shines on his sole song, ''Space-Dye Vest'', built off a piano melody and many random samples and noises. It fits the album well.

The other feature is the album's heaviness. Awake had the right amount of crunch and force. Not as heavy as Train of Thought, but more so than Falling Into Infinity. The back-to-back assult of ''The Mirror'' and ''Lie'' are the best examples. ''The Mirror'' starts out with Metallica-style crunches from Petrucci, layered with Moore's foreboding keys. Despite its heavyness, ''The Mirror'' still contains immense atmosphere. ''Lie'', however, is much more straightforward than its predecessor. ''Lie'' has much less keywork from Moore, and focuses more on Petrucci's somewhat hard-rock guitar acrobatics during the chorus, which is absolutely irresistible. Opener ''6:00'' is a catchy rocker featuring gruff vocals from LaBrie. ''Caught in a Web'' follows in the same suit, and is purely balls-to-the-wall.

''Erotomania'' is the perfect showcasing of the band's skill. Everything sounds flawless. ''The Silent Man'' is a nice acoustic tune and is very chill compared to the rest of the album. ''Innocence Faded'' contains one of my favorite outros from DREAM THEATER, with the whole band going crazy in the final minute. ''Scarred'' is my personal favorite off of the album. After a dream intro, things get frantic amid Moore's keyboards. ''Scarred'' contains the strongest sense of melody on here, and sends the listener on an emotional roller coaster for 11 minutes.

All in all, Awake is part of the Holy Trinity of DREAM THEATER albums, sharing slots with Images and Words and Scenes from a Memory. No DT fan should miss this album at all. After all, it is the epitome of their sound.

Report this review (#194407)
Posted Friday, December 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dream Theater's Awake. The purposed classic among most hardcore DT fans. The one also famous for some of the best instrumentals and some of the worst singing. Personally, I've always had a love/hate relationship with DT, as their music is incredibly well written and very intense. However, now that I read DT reviews by a certain anonymous reviewer (Certifi3d), something has been brought to my attention. The extreme Metallica influence among the group. Most people get lost sifting through the thrash metal layers that don't get to really enjoy the numerous musical gems spread throughout the record.

The record kicks start with the incredibly original 6:00. This song has it all, amazing guitar lines, quirky movie quotes and a kick ass organ solo in the middle instrumental. Caught In a Web didn't leave too good of a taste in my mouth to be honest. I used to listen to it frequently when I thought Dream Theater was the end all of heavy metal. Now it sort of seems like a weird little song. Although the instrumental showed potential (The latter of which was further explored in the Caught In a Web/New Millenium mash up on the Live Scenes CD set) the bulk of the song fell flat and lacked the focus of most of the band's songs. Innocence Faded is just really lame. I'm sorry to say this, but the singing is just god awful and the song structure is weird and morphed. I really didn't like this song.

However, the next song makes up for the past two ones. Erotomania. This song has gone down to be one of my all time DT favorites. It's so vast and strange, yet it entangles you and keeps you listening. The band really outdid themselves here. Voices is more or less a direct continuation from Erotomania. Now this song always keeps me on my feet. For it's length, the song really doesn't develop too much, but the song somehow keeps me in this trance which makes me want to listen to it all day without end. I really liked the guitar solo towards the end too. Completing the suite of A Mind Besides Itself is The Silent Man. Now this song is somewhat powerful and somewhat bland. It's power and beauty are fully developed in the live rendition. (Again, available in Live Scenes, but on the DVD as well as CD)

The Mirror is very heavy and very Metallica-esque. Now to be quite honest, the song lost its luster when I discovered much heavier bands such as Opeth. Lie is pretty much the same story. Lifting Shadows Off a Dream is an emotionally compelling, very dark ballad. I took an immense liking to it. It's very majestic and has a vintage feel to it. Then comes the epic, enthralling Scarred. I had the opportunity of seeing this song played live by the band at their Toronto stop in last summer's Chaos In Motion tour. Let me tell you, without ruining anything, that song is twenty times better live. That on top of it being the best song on the record. This song basically proved that Dream Theater is just a Metallica cover band as some say. This song is purely original and of the mind. No crappy thrash metal included. The album closes with yet aother majestic masterpiece. Space Dyed Vest. This song is somewhat more of a swan song for then keyboardist Kevin Moore. Don't let his leaving of the band make you dislike the song, as it is a great one.

All in all, this was Dream Theater in their prime. They grew somewhat darker on this record, but it was worth the price as they came with classic memorable songs. Here's the good news: I don't know about where you live, but where I live this record can be found at usually below ten dollars. I think that the immense record sales of Images and Words, due to Pull Me Under becoming a hit, caused the record company to make a surplus of this expecting a gold record. Although it wasn't popular with the mainstreamers, this one is definitely a record you should have in your collection. 4 stars.

Report this review (#197407)
Posted Monday, January 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great album, a little bit heavier and darker than its classic predecessor. I do not think it is as good as people say it is, but it is a real good piece of art. Most of the songs are shorter songs that are more catchy, which are heavy, but still progressive at the same time by having intricate guitar solos and stuff like that. The songs that stand out are A Mind Beside Itself, which is Erotomania, Voices and The Silent Man all together. It makes a 20 minute suite. It's a good suite, going from a progressive metal instrumental, to a song with lyrics, to an acoustic, soft ballad. Sometimes I listen to the last part just to make me feel happy, it really is a nice piece. The Mirror and Lie Segue into each other. And Space Dye Vest... this is another outstanding song, it features Kevin Moore's Keyboards dueling with James LaBrie's vocals in a haunting, atmospheric epic, before the other members join in for the climax and outro. This doesn't sound like Dream Theater at all, in fact, but it would show you a bit of the way Kevin Moore was heading towards when he left and formed Chroma Key. Kevin Moore is an amazing Keyboardist. While maybe not as skilled as Rudess, he still has that certain feel to him... that piece of creativity that could only be found in HIS mind and no one else's. He's kinda like the Syd Barrett of Dream Theater.

Other than that, most of the songs are just ordinary progressive metal songs, and all of them are nice. This is a good album!

Report this review (#198579)
Posted Monday, January 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The third album by this band,having some changes in their type of music,and a little bit different than Images and Words album,in wich they did a great difference bewteen metal side and prog side,In this album we can find more dark passages with a more heavy voice by the singer James Labrie.Dream Theater with this amazing work,have created a heavy sound,leaving the changes-tempos behind,and they were focus more on the vocals parts.never leaving behind the progressive -touch-.If someone is waiting for the same sound from imagen and Words album they are wrong,this is something different,more dark,but with a couple of relax Songs.Some parts are really agressive.Mr.petrucci is a good Guitar Player.

Erotomania-Lifting Shadows of a Dream-Scarred are the best one from this album..i will recommend that you liste to this,because with this album,Dt starts a lot of changes in their music.More heavy.If you want.

Good work. 3.8 stars (--Jack--)

Report this review (#203072)
Posted Monday, February 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Awake' - Dream Theater (5/10)

No matter how much I've listened to this album, I've never really been able to appreciate it all that much. Yes, there are some great moments in it, and 'Space-Dye Vest' is one of the best progressive ballads ever written, but the fact remains that much of the album is half-baked, and a steep dive from the awesome music found in 'When Dream And Day Unite' and 'Images And Words.'

That's not to say that this is a completely bad album. It's alright, but alot of the music on it is subpar. It really doesn't sound like a Dream Theater album. Songs like 'Lie' are just heavy, noisy messes and don't deserve too much listening time. There are only 3 or 4 songs on this album I really like... '6:00' for example is a very funky sounding track, and while it's not gold, it's still very enjoyable to listen to.

The true power of this album lies in 'Space-Dye Vest.' It's certainly one of the greatest songs Dream Theater ever made, simply because theres no pretension in it. It's an emotionally based song, and theres no flaunting of musical virtuosity in it. It makes me sad that Kevin Moore is no longer in Dream Theater. There would have been alot more amazing songs like that in Dream Theater's repetoire if he had stayed.

In conclusion, not a great album, and alot of it is very disposable, but it has just enough worthy points in it to be worth checking out.

Report this review (#205311)
Posted Tuesday, March 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Awake is a great album by Dream Theater, and is definetely one of their better works. Awake saw Dream Theater edging a bit more towards a bit of a heavier sound. Even though this isn't really heavy compared to most music, Awake definetely marked a change in sound. When compared to the uplifting majestic beauty of Images & Words, Awake seems like a gritty album with darker melodies. The songs are a bit more straightforward, and Labrie's voice no longer sounds like a soaring eagle. Does this make the songs bad? No, though most never get up to the heights of the previous album.

Of course, what this album lacks in majesty compared to its predecessor, it makes up for in agressive energy. Right from the beginning tom rolls in the intro of "6:00", the listener knows they're about to be pumped up. Most of the songs have a good energy to them, although some of the tempoes make the songs sound a bit more akin to what one would hear on mainstream rock radio. That's fine, as long as Dream Theater pumps out good mainstream music.

Ultimately prog fans will point out "A Mind Beside Itself", a suite composed of three tracks on the album: "Erotomania", "Voices", and "The Silent Man". Erotomania is a killer instrumental that goes off on many tangents, ultimately wrapping up to begin "Voices". That track is hard hitting at the beginning, but develops quickly into an emotional journey, with a near perfect climax. The suite ends with "The Silent Man", a short acoustic campfire-y ditty. The suite is definetely a large part of what makes the album so cool.

Of course, there are other reasons. The more agressive tracks venture in a world that Dream Theater had previously not travelled to. Tracks like "6:00" have a great energy to them, and "The Mirror" shows how creative Dream Theater can get rhythmically while still retaining a mostly-straightforward sound. Dream Theater also gets some cool softer tracks in the album too. "Lifting Shadows off a Dream" contains beautifully emotional chords, with Petrucci's guitar on a great clean delay sound. "Space Dye Vest" is possibly the best track on the album, with spacey, dark moody piano over Labrie's soft voice and Kevin Moore's cold, betrayed lyrics. One thing cannot be said about this album: it has a poor ending.

In any event, Awake is an excellent album to have. For Dream Theater fans, it is a must have, and any prog fan should try to get it too.

Report this review (#218628)
Posted Thursday, May 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars It seems that I am one of the few that will not belaud this album. In their third work, Dream Theater sound heavier than before and LaBrie's voice is on purpose, hoarser than ever. There are some very nice compositions such as 6:00, Caught in a Web,Voices, The Mirror,Lie and the all-time classic lyrical Space Dye Vest. But there are also some boring songs such as The Silent Man and Lifting Shadows off a Dream. Furthermore, the instrumental Erotomania is by far the weakest instrumental from what I've heard in their other works(Train of Thought, Metropolis pt.2,Six Degrres of Inner Turbulence). Of course the whole album it has some jazz influences which are very welcome by me, but in general I believe that it is just a good effort and nothing more. That is why I will rate it with 3 stars. It could have been 3,5 stars, but I expect something more from Dream Theater.
Report this review (#221375)
Posted Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well... I really have this one album on a special place 'cause it was my first view of the band and I fell in love in first sight really. It's wierd, but back then I was really a dummy about music and this was a shock for me. How a band could be so good? So tight and complex, keeping sense on each song...? I heard 6:00 and I was insane, I'm a keyboard player so, for me to hear the quality of sound and performance of Kevin Moore was unbelievable. Then I didn't know that it wasn't his best album... that was insane.

The voice of Labrie at it's best... maybe until the Black Clouds & Silver Linnings album. Everything sounds simply great. Portnoy drums have never sounded like in this album, Petrucci is accurate and acrobatic as always, Myung takes a different approach, less moody and sad and more basic and his contribution in this album is vital to the sound and Kevin More was just excellent by the developing of great soundscapes and layering more than acrobatic solos and show off. This was the last album of Moore in the band and for many of their fans, the shadow that his compositions have thrown over the rest of their catalogue is impressive. Even Jordan Rudess has problems to shine over the mastermind of Moore. He leave us a wonderful sad goodbye song: Space Dye Vest. "And I have no more dreams to defend" he said near to the end, weather it was a hidden code or not, it's one of the most impressive songs of DT.

They share impressive heavy rock riffing, great lead vocals and melodies, many ambience moody keyboards, impressive solos, fresh and innovative drumming and depth original bass lines. The sound is maybe their most professional and great mixed. This is the album to check for sure. Just hear Scarred, 6:00, Space dye vest, The Mirror and Lifting Shadows, but I can't point at one single "weak" song on here.

They become more metal and this one is their first "more metal than prog" album. For me it's a masterpiece, very accessible to any metalhead and one my favorites albums of all time. 5 stars.

Report this review (#225867)
Posted Friday, July 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
4 stars Darker and Heavier than Images & Words

Awake is Dream Theater's third album, and second with James LaBrie on board. His debut with the band, Images & Words, was indeed very promising for metal and future Prog Metal fans, featuring pretty complex passages with a very balanced band, each member giving their maximun rendition and never overshadowing the other; also some some classic metal influences were heard like Metallica, however the heavy riffing was balanced with atmospheric keyboards led by Kevin Moore as well as with some tremendous melodic bass playing. However, I&W also featured some notable cons, like the extremely high pitched vocals from James which are hard to digest, some pretty ''cheap/crappy'' keyboard sounds, and a lot of un-professional double-bass drumming, reminiscent of Power Metal, if you allow me to say.

However, with Awake they seemed to have matured and perfectioned those cons; Mike Portnoy's work on the drums has really improved without featuring the annoyance of the excessive double-bass, James on the other hand while not leaving completely his high-pitched vocals, he balances them pretty well with some in-your-face metal-esque vocals which work fantastic for the 'new' mood this album presents(darker and heavier), while Kevin Moore's keyboard sound selection is back to normal, not that he was bad on I&W, but some stuff really sounded like crap, now he delivers some better atmospheres and nice piano pieces. Myung's and Petrucci's renditions on here are the only ones that seem to be less greater compared to the previous album; Myung while still fairly audible like in Images & Words, he doesn't seem to add much to the band, while Petrucci on here doesn't seem to be very inspired for heavy riffs, yet there are some of his best solos.

Anyways, even if the cons from Images & Words are perfectioned as I stated, I can't say it's a better album from the composition side neither from the ''technical'' side. For example the long pieces, Scarred and Voices, while of course being well composed songs and the musicianship is top-notch, I don't think there's anything really exciting or new or that makes me raise up the volume; the riffs overall, are mediocre metal riffs, despite how technical they may be, the drums like I said before are definitely improved but nothing really to praise of, James vocals are also improved, but there's still something not working as a whole.

So, the long, thought-promising, songs are nowhere near the long songs from I&W, what has the album left to offer? Well, the opener, 6:00, is one of them, with Portnoy shining on the drum-case, while the rest of band is making a really good heavy riff. The chorus is pretty heavy and catchy, so that's a bonus. And well, finally Moore and Petrucci deliver some kick-ass solos. Might not be as elaborated as the two long songs, yet this takes my attention much more than the other two.

Erotomania is the other highly acclaimed tune other than the two longest songs from Awake. The musicianship is top-notch and the composition is excellent too, delving through soft paces and heavy moods and all this mainly being led by Petrucci's outstanding guitar. Probably one of the best pieces Dream Theater has put together as a band.

Finally there's the highly acclaimed piece, the one written by Kevin Moore called Space-Dye Vest. It's a dark evolving creature led by Kevin's piano. However Space-Dye Vest's magic for me is the dark, semi-spacey, atmosphere which goes evolving and evolving, though never reaching a peak where everything explodes and shines as you would have thought it would do. Yet, it's very tranquil and a incredibly well-done piece, worthy of listening even if you're not a Dream Theater fan.

The rest of the songs are a mixed bag of heavy metal tunes with few prog substance, and some soft ones headed more to the AOR side. The heavy ones are The Mirror, Lie and Caught in a Web, the three of them having very in-your-face metal riffs, as well as the new raging vocals from James, which can also produce annoyance to some, despite being the opposite to his high-pitched performance. On the other hand, the non-heavy tunes which are Lifting Shadows Off a Dream, Innocence Faded and The Silent Man, like I said before they are headed more to AOR grounds in general due to the accessibility and catchiness, however despite all that, I prefer them over the heavy ones. They're definitely more bearable, however the fact that I really like songs of that style from Falling Into Infinity like Hollow Years and Anna Lee and Surrounded from Images & Words, is an obvious reason why I enjoy them and the fact that I'm not a metal fan is also an obvious reason why I don't enjoy much of the straight-forward metal material from Awake.

Reaching to the conclusion of this review, I can't seem to add anything else other than re-stating that while Awake is played better than Images & Words, the compositions in here are not exactly in the heights Dream Theater reached with Images & Words, just with few exceptions like the already stated Space-Dye Vest and Erotomania. So 3.5 stars it is, meaning it's a very good and progressive follow-up to Images & Words but doesn't quite manage to surpass it. Nonetheless it's a highly recommended Prog Metal album.

Report this review (#231427)
Posted Thursday, August 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars When I first heard this album, shortly before it was released, I liked it a lot more than I do these days. Mostly because back then, when new prog was all but impossible to locate in the U.S., Dream Theater was possibly the only prog on a major label that wasn't just released as a loss leader. Echolyn and Altered State were both in the latter category.

Listening to Awake now, it's still good. There are quite a few proggy moments, even a couple of pure prog songs, but not enough to completely satisfy me. This band has done much better albums since.

And poor John Myung. He is an excellent bassist, certainly up to par with the skills of the other band members. Yet he is consistently mixed down, buried under the barrage of sound created by Portnoy and Petrucci.

Report this review (#232097)
Posted Monday, August 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Dream Theater's "Awake" is mysterious, dark, and heavy. It is less energetic and more focused than "Images and Words", even if the melodies are slightly less memorable. The whole album is brilliant to me, both lyrically and musically. Some highlights include James' incredible performance (particularly in 'Voices', 'Lifting shadows off a dream', 'The Mirror' and 'Scarred') and the instrumental sections (such as in 'Voices', 'Erotomania' and 'Innocence Faded'). 'Space-dye vest' is a beautiful lament. The issues explored are deep and profound, I enjoy the lyrics in particular to "Innocence Faded" and "Scarred".

Repeated spins do not disappoint!

Favourite tracks: 'Erotomania', 'Voices', 'The Mirror', and 'Scarred'

My personal favourite output from this great band.

Stunning cover art

5 stars

Report this review (#238365)
Posted Thursday, September 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Somehow, I cannot escape calling this Dream Theater's final moment...

Most who call upon Dream Theater and their cast, yet ever growing canon, cite either Images and Words, A Change of Seasons, or Scenes From A Memory as their finest moment. I enjoy all of these albums, but strain to see how they measure up to what I consider their "Dark peak". In Awake, you have a more ferocious and aggressive style, later culled in Train of Thought (only with much less originality). Every song here features either something distinctly grabbing and original, or a theme improved upon from Images and Words. 6 O'clock has a great set of keyboard work with knotty structures, while Caught in a Web allows the band growth into more mature and darker territory. Innocence Faded, while mildly bright, still injects a richer tone.

I find no fault in any of the tracks. The three part suite in A Mind Beside Itself is glorious. Erotomania is bleak and fierce, while voices achieves haunting stature I've never found in anything else the band has done, especially when Labrie says "Like a Dream, but sort of silent". Speaking of Labrie, he expands his vocal palette slightly, and definitely showcases a more violent and angry singing form. The Mirror is possibly the most aggressive song, and it barrels powerfully in its well written lines. The lyrics here are top notch, and befitting a prog giant. The themes come across from mental disorders, fear, hypocrisy, and introversion, and wrap well with the similar musical themes.

The final song is Space Dye Vest. It is my favorite on the album, and is definitely the most melancholy. The piano melody is striking, and the writing/performing is consistently astounding. While I feel that Dream theater are watering themselves down in later days, their height of glory was far from contrived. A blackened trip through Dream theater's most well written darkness in Awake. Fantastic

Best Song - Space Dye Vest, or the Suite

Worst Song - Innocence Faded, due to slight inconsistencies, but still great

***** Awakened stars.

Report this review (#246327)
Posted Monday, October 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dream Theater: Awake

This is Dream Theater's third release and it is nearly as good as their second; Images and Words which I consider a perfect album. It is much heavier than Images and Words and is the last CD with the keyboardist Kevin Moore on it. It all starts with "6:00" which is a fun tune its stars off with a cool little drum intro, the problem with it is that there are some voice over things that they put into the song and i find them annoying, the music itself is interesting but its an okay song at best. " Caught in a Web" is a pretty good metal song, James LaBrie sings with a harsher voice but I still like the song a lot. A Mind Besides Its Self Suite contains "Erotomania" which happens to be one of the best instrumentals ever made, "Voices"; another prog metal and "The Silent Man" which is a nice ballad with John Petrucci playing the acoustic. "The Mirror" and "Lie" flow into each other and they are great songs except for Lie's lyrics are lame. "Space-Dye Vest" is a fantastic piano oriented ballad that Kevin Moore wrote which Dream Theater doesn't play this live because they feel it is his song which is a big shame because i love this song.

Yeah the CD is a lot heavier than their past two but thats why they are called Progressive Metal and they are very progressive. This CD is complete with many time signature changes, complicated rhythms and great instrumentals. The only thing bringing this CD down from being perfect is "6:00", and though the songs are good they just aren't as amazing as the ones on Images and Words. Really only The mirror, Lie, Erotomania and maybe Scarred are Dream Theater classics, and compared to Images and Words thats not many.

Report this review (#250044)
Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Dream Theatre absolved!

As you guessed from my Images and Words review, this kind of progressive metal isn't really my kind of thing. But before you think I'm a Dream Theatre hater you should know that I am a very relentless music pit-bull and that I won't condemn or give up on a band just because they disappointed me once.

I've always thought Dream Theatre found their true voice on Awake. The playing is tight and functional, the production is excellent, the song writing is consistently strong. Ok, there still are cheesy moment as on Innocence Faded and Lifting Shadows, but it are exceptions. The music is cleared of its excesses; it's harder edged, with Metallica as a dominant inspiration.

For me, the most surprising element is Labrie. As much as he got on my nerves on Images and Words, as much he is in control of his voice here. Ok, he's still the type of vocalist that confuses hitting high notes with emotion, but his melodies are strong now and there is true passion and bite in his delivery.

If it wasn't for the occasional moments where they still remind me of the melodrama of the previous album, I might rate this with 5 stars.

Report this review (#251870)
Posted Friday, November 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars After having heard Images and Words and the masterpiece that it is, I was wondering if "Awake" would have the same caliber. BAM! Cue "6:00"! The first song just blew me away! I was hooked from beginning all the way to the finish line. A perfect execution from the 5 gents! Petrucci, as always, showcasing his incredible guitar playing, is impeccable in this album...some of my favorite guitar work from the master. This is an all-around masterpiece in my opinion and must be heard!

1. "6:00" - 9/10

2. "Caught in a Web" - 8/10

3. "Innocence Faded" - 8/10

4. "Erotomania" - 10/10

5. "Voices" - 9/10

6. "The Silent Man" - 9/10

7. "The Mirror" - 9/10

8. "Lie" - 9/10

9. "Lifting Shadows off a Dream" - 9/10

10. "Scarred" - 9/10

11. "Space-Dye Vest" - 10/10

99/11 = 90% = 5 stars, it is!

Report this review (#252516)
Posted Tuesday, November 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amazing from start to finish

After the quintessential Images and Words, Dream Theater was faced with the legendary challenge many artists have gone through: following up a masterpiece album. With Awake, I say they even surpassed Images. Personally, this is my favourite Dream Theater album and maybe my favourite album of all time.

A description of the music: Awake took a much different approach from Images and Words. Awake seems to have a dark aura about it on every song, while Images had a much brighter sound. Awake also has a bit more focus on the metal aspect and the instrumental sections are a bit shorter and not as chaotic with the time signatures. Awake contains some heavier tracks, such as "6:00," "Caught In A Web," "Lie," and "The Mirror" where we'll find LaBrie using some snarling screams. We also have LaBrie with incredibly melodic moments in tracks like "Voices," "The Silent Man," "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream," "Space Dye Vest," and "Scarred."


Balance: This is an incredibly well balanced album. It has a fair share of metal tracks, along with a bit of ballads and seems to strike a perfect balance. You also have "Voices" and "Scarred" which act as both ballads and metal tracks and they are two of the greatest tracks on this album. "Innocence Faded" is another ballad which seems to have a slightly happier tone than the others.

Song placement: Not only is there a perfect balance between ballads and heavy tracks, but each track is placed at the perfect spot. When you'll likely need a rest from a lot of heavyness, a ballad is present to let you cool down. It works quite well.

Musicianship: As with every Dream Theater album, there is incredible instrumental virtuosity. Mike Portnoy shows off some magnificent drumming skills on the intro "6:00" in the style of Neal Peart. The drum beat in that song overall is incredibly catchy. John Petrucci also has no shortage of great moments. His greatest solo on this album is probably "Voices" as this solo has a great balance of speed and feel. Kevin Moore is incredible in the stunning piano ballad "Space Dye Vest." The entire band also clicks in the wacky and odd time signature filled, but very nice sounding instrumental "Erotomania."

Vocals: This is LaBrie's best album for me. He screams in a snarling metal tone that may not be suitable for some, but definitely works for me. His voice in "Space Dye Vest," "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream," and "The Silent Man" and the light parts in "Voices" and "Scarred" is just beautiful. He also hits some very high notes in "Innocence Faded."


Bass: This problem is present in most of Dream Theater's albums. John Myung is an amazing bass player, but they do not give him any time to shine whatsoever in this album. His bass is also barely audible.

Song ratings: (These ratings are serious. They aren't incredibly high just because I am a Dream Theater fan.) 6:00: 10/10 Caught In A Web: 10/10 Innocence Faded: 9/10 Erotomania: 10/10 Voices: 10/10 The Silent Man: 10/10 Lie: 8.5/10 The Mirror: 8.5/10 Lifting Shadows Off A Dream: 9/10 Scarred: 10/10 Space Dye Vest: 10/10

Recommended for: People who like a bit of classic metal sound in their prog. People looking for a sort of dark sound. People who like higher pitched singing.

My rating: 5 stars without question. It's a shame PA only allows up to 5 stars. So many perfect tracks on this album. A must have for any prog metal fan!

Report this review (#261145)
Posted Saturday, January 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
4 stars Awake, Dream Theater, 1994

Extremely energetic third album from one of the (like it or not) leading lights of modern prog rock and their only album I've yet heard deserving all the accolades the band gets. Aside from a slightly deeper and significantly better-delivered set of lyrics, this album has melody, contrast, structure and ideas to go with the complexity and technicality that DT's previous and later offerings provide. Start to finish, it's one hell of a trip; no bad songs, and only a couple of slips in its 75 minute duration. Two criticisms only: 1) the album ends twice - this is confusing and perhaps indicative of the confusion we see in the lyrics which waver endlessly between two opposites. 2) Caught In A Web and Innocence Faded are very strong, but at times not a match for the rest of the record.

6.00 has all the reasons I love this album... killer metal vocals, a couple of great riffs, scything organ with a delicious metallic tang from Moore, one hell of a guitar solo substantiated by the rest of music, breaks that relate to the main music, entertaining use of the (slightly trite, we confess) sound effects.

Caught In A Web is somewhat clunkier and heavier with one rather odd vocal delivery ('does this voice the wounds of your soul') but still basically solid; Portnoy's drumming in the extremely cool instrumental bit in the middle shows an appreciation of punctuation (and Myung's bass tone is superbly dark).

Innocence Faded is, strangely enough, rather brighter than either of the above. Sounds great, with some intimate vocals from Labrie and killer classic rock guitar riff from Petrucci; explodes appropriately at the right moments and the vocal harmonies are just fine. For some reason, Labrie's precocious high bit comes off very well.

The 20-minute A Mind Beside Itself suite is where the album really takes off. We're first treated to a rare effective prog metal instrumental with a consistent sense of direction and mood, killer soloing and a dirty organ. The guitar/drums duel around 4.30 is inspired. I take the conclusion/segue as rare evidence that the band are capable of delicate emotive interplay. Voices has powerful dynamic contrasts everywhere, more of Labrie being both powerfully metallic and sensitive but not sappy, complete with a surprisingly passable set of lyrics. Trite film quote included with some coolness, moving shred solo, number of superb melodies. Damn fine work. The Silent Man is a simple-yet-effective ballad-based contrasting closer with a little more in the background. More fine vibrato singing from Labrie and some subtle self-harmonies. Well-arranged, accomplished, emotional 'epic', featuring a seminal instrumental.

The Mirror is very heavy indeed, with a sort of claustrophobic Gothic symph-metal vibe to the overture followed by some visceral vocal parts and nicely stabbing bass. Moore's hybrid keyboard tone is great at times but a bit too wimpy at others. Quality metal, in this reviewer's humble opinion; the segue at the end is particularly powerful and crunchy. Lie has Labrie sounding more casually unlike himself, which is interesting for all involved, and more of the solid, heavy metal with great riffs that characterised the previous piece. Some of Moore's lyrics are terrible, but at least so bad they're hilarious, and the overall idea is fine. Petrucci on incredible form here (as is everyone else, actually), and more of the contrasts of dynamic and intensity, vocal and instrumental turn this into a sort of mini-epic within its suite. Lifting Shadows restores some of the symphonic feel to this suite with Myung's imagery-based lyrics and Moore's keyboard choices. The drumming is great, Labrie's vocal is great and the cool contrast of the pessimistic verse and the uplifting chorus is one of the simple-yet-effective choices that can make a decent album into a great one.

Concluding this series of linked songs is Scarred, a more rock-based piece with a neat bass riff from Myung and some rock-solid work from Portnoy. Labrie's vocal is immensely musical, and often has an emotional grip and the lyrics... well, they actually resonate with me (a one-off from Dream Theater).

And how come you don't understand me? And how come I don't understand you?

Not complex stuff, but it works. Myung pulls out some fantastic bass parts for those of us who listen closely, and despite one slightly misplaced guitar solo, it's a musical triumph from a band that have never sounded better.

I could've stopped it on the fade there, but the piano-based (and the part here sounds so much richer than any Rudess has pulled out) closer Space Dye Vest is all but tacked on at the end. Aside from the slight lapse in ordering here (the album basically ends twice), I've no complaints about Moore's writing or lyrics (well, the quotes... are they really necessary?) and the atmosphere is deliciously dark.

Stunning contemporary album with a couple of ordering issues and the very occasional small mi[&*!#] over an enormous running time, which I'm giving the same sort of mild indulgence I'd give the occasional mneh moment on Third or The White Album. My personal favourite prog metal album. Even if you're not a fan of the rest of Dream Theater's discography (I'm not), don't miss this one. A (very slightly) forgiving five stars here.

Rating: Five Stars, 13/15 Favourite Track: 6:00 or Voices,

Edit: I cut to a four after feeling slightly uncomfortable about a five for an album with a weaker bit and a few minor slips. In the context that I'm still waiting to hear a clear-cut five star Prog Metal album, that's not a bad rating at all.

Report this review (#275597)
Posted Tuesday, March 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Simply My Favorite DT Album

While I had listened with keen interest to Dream Theater during the Images and Words period, it was not until joining a band of Dream Theater maniacs that I became immersed in their sound. Awake was released soon thereafter, and some of my greatest memories of being in a band are connected to that album. Our whole group took a several hour road trip to Chicago to catch DT on this tour. It was a great show, with Metropolis as a great climax. But the entire Mirror Besides Itself was also played. (I was lucky enough to see a recent tour which included this as well.) All that is just to say I'm a little biased.

Awake, of course, is the album after the breakthrough. The band had some money in their pockets and the pressure of not falling back into obscurity. Luckily for all of us, they chose to cater to their deeper fan base rather than make a popularity grab. Awake is heavier, more chops-heavy, and more complex overall than Images and Words. There are less pop / glam elements, which is the main reason I prefer this album to the predecessor.

Awake also still has Kevin Moore, the best songwriter to have ever been in the band. Moore is nowhere near the speed demon that current keymeister Jordan Rudess is, but his attraction to moody textures adds a layer to the music that the band never really has regained. Moore's parting treat is "Space Dye Vest," one of the most melodic and compelling DT songs. To be certain, he's no slouch on chops, and the interplay between Moore and Petrucci is still very good.

Petrucci is very good on this album as well. Though his sound is very grounded in the shredder movement of the late-80's and early 90's (most notably Steve Vai), he integrates the chops into a band context better than anyone had before. His unison bend opening to the solo on "Erotomania" is great, as is the wah solo on "Voices." Of course, his chops are fiery and precise, perfectly shown in the solo section of "Scarred," but it is his riffing on Awake that really makes the album. The added heaviness is what fans either love or hate, and I for one love it.

Drummer Mike Portnoy already was on the way up when this album came out, but after this one, he was firmly established as the new leader of metal drumming. I remember our drummer watching aghast and later remarking "That dude can COUNT." I had never heard a drummer so seamlessly change time signature and shift the accents so perfectly. Portnoy of course has gone on to be the definition of prog metal drumming.

James Labrie is what he is. He's a good glam metal vocalist without anything especially distinctive about his tone. The simple fact that he still keeps up with the others musically was probably his biggest qualification. His pipes are still in full form here, and a vocal chord problem would set him back after this tour. Labrie's voice was always the biggest obstacle for me to get over listening to this band, but as this style has become the standard for a certain subset of power metal, I'm used to it now.

There are no weak songs on this album, though as has been noted it's a little long. The suite of "Erotomania," "Voices," and "The Silent Man" is a great centerpiece, but "Caught in a Web," "Lie," and "Space Dye Vest" are equally as great.

I feel almost obligated to give one DT album a five star, and if any deserve it it's this one. Their importance in the prog metal genre simply cannot be understated. Probably somewhere between 4 and 5 is more accurate.

Report this review (#277946)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Dream Theater's third album, after the badly seen debut "When Day And Dream Unite", and the masterpiece "Images And Words", seems to go further the way that the second album opened: indeed, "Awake" is another wonderful, enigmatic masterpiece, much more complex and dark than I&W.

Musically speaking, it is a little different than the previous album: it is more progressive in many ways, starting from the structure: eleven songs, but very well distributed, since two songs are ten minutes long. Also the technical virtuosity is much more highlighted; I&W was more concentrated on the melodies than the arrangements, solos, and musical flamboyance.

"6.00 A.M." starts the album. Boy, this song rocks. Great drum intro by Portnoy, the best Progressive Metal drummer ever, very good verse, excellent chorus, brilliant solos, beautiful bridge, where everything is calmer, great comeback, where Petrucci uses the wah wah guitar pedal, while playing the theme. Great song.

"Caught In A Web" is another awesome tune. Very catchy verse, great musicianship by all artists, an even better chorus, many awesome moments in this song, certainly a DT classic.

"Innocence Faded" is the least good song of the album. It is a semi ballad, with a weak chorus, but some moments are enjoyable. Now, the trilogy, the center of the album: A mind Beside Itself.

"Erotomania" is an awesome, mind blowing, and extremely technical instrumental song, which takes , in 6 minutes, many shapes, and has many time changes. Although it doesn't quite reach the level as "The Dance Of Eternity", DT's best instrumental song ever, from the "Scenes From A Memory" album, it is still an awesome song.

"Voices" is one of the two ten minute songs of the album. Many memorable moments, mainly it is quite a mysterious song, or at least the melodies themselves are mysterious, but the arrangements make them more desperate. The chorus is nice, but all the rest is what really makes the song. I can't say I love Labrie's work in this song, frankly.

"The Silent Man" is one the band's best ballads. Beautiful melody, played only with an acoustic guitar. The chorus is one of the most beautiful choruses DT has written, In which even Portnoy gives a nice contribute with his backing vocals. Wonderful.

"The Mirror" harshly ends the trilogy, with a heavy, but exquisite riff played with one note. This is another favorite DT song. Heavy, a little mysterious, great guitars, keyboards. The chorus is also great. Absolutely fantastic.

"Lie" for some reason I didn't like for a while. I now love it. A really cool verse, a great chorus. The guitar, like in "Caught In A Web" and "The Mirror" are very heavy, but amazing. Around four minutes is my favorite, where band gets more technical than ever. A mind blowing part indeed. Fabulous song, even though I needed some listens to acquire the taste of it.

"Lifting Shadows Off A Dream", is, somehow, the song that people consider the worst of the album. I think it's one of the best. Very nostalgic and mysterious melody, beautiful verse, haunting chorus, great arrangements. A very emotional song, if you ask me.

"Scarred" is the other ten minute song, even better than "Voices"; it is in fact, in my opinion, better structured. Psych like beginning, but then it gets more "wild". A complex song, one of the best of DT generally speaking. I love it.

"Space Dye Vest" is another mysterious and melancholic ballad, but there are no cheerful moments here. Indeed, a very grim piece, but still beautiful. I bet it doesn't get as much credit as it should, since it closes one of the greatest prog metal albums ever. "Awake" leaves me speechless every time I listen to it: so beautiful, complex, and a little tormented. 5 stars.

Report this review (#279808)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album marks a bit of a change in direction for Dream Theater as this was their first real metal album with John Petrucci sometimes ditching the 6 string to make way for a darker heavyer 7 string hence the dark tone of the album. Thats not the only thing however, this also marks the last album for keyboard player Kevin Moore and features his last lyric and musical contribution and is the start of a really clean production for the band, where you can really hear each instrument well, but are the songs any good? well yes of course. Thats not to say there arint any iffy songs on here as im not really a fan of maybe 2-3 songs opener 6.00 just doesnt do anything for me as does THE MIRROR, but the rest are amazing including the fantastic A MIND BESIDE ITSELF suite, INNOCENCE FADED, the epic SCARRED and the beauty of LIFTING SHADOWS OF A DREAM;

6:00 - 6/10 Caught in a Web - 8/10 Innocence Faded - 9/10 A Mind Beside Itself: I. Erotomania - 10/10 A Mind Beside Itself: II. Voices - 10/10 A Mind Beside Itself: III. The Silent Man - 9/10 The Mirror - 6/10 Lie - 8/10 Lifting Shadows Off a Dream - 9/10 Scarred - 10/10 Space-Dye Vest - 8/10

My Conclusion? yet another fantastic album for DT and a worth add to your collection, a classic.

Report this review (#284074)
Posted Saturday, May 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a more "metal" release for Dream Theater. So of course I'm loving it. This is a good album. Let's get right into it.

6:00. Starts with some AWESOME Portnoy drumming. Then some sweet keyboard riffing. There is a lot of heaviness in this song, complemented with great keyboard work. A technical song from all musicians involved this is one great piece of prog metal. Perfect vocals to boot, and some great guitar solos! Runs the gambit of prog-metal in this song and does it all well.

Caught in a Web. Very interesting and cool intro. The keyboard on this album can not be over hyped! Not that Rudess is a slouch of course, but this song has great stuff. This song has all that you'd want.

Innocence Faded. Ew is the only way to describe the intro. So generic and happy! But really, very mediocre intro...this is overall a slower, more melodic, more synth driven song. But don't worry, that technical guitar work is in there, wonderfully intertwined with the keyboard. In the middle section LaBrie's vocals go to that place that I hate oh so much. Pretty good song though! Nice change up.

Erotomania. Crazy synth intro! An instrumental song it is well constructed, and of course as an instrumental there is plenty of showing off by each of the musicians. But hey, I would if I was as good as them! Melodic solos, shred solos, technicality, you'll hear everything from Petrucci here. I almost never use such specific times, but 1:21 to 1:30 as well as 4:35 to 5:30 are my favorite parts. The latter being a shred fest that sounds like something Jason Becker! Great drumming as well. Awesome song.

Voices. Very good intro, (again!). Gives way to a pretty synth section. However, there is an ominous guitar tone growing in the background...sadly it gives way to something bad. Upcoming is one of those famous DT sections filled with enough cheese to make a pizza. There is some good music for a while but AHH! LaBrie's vocals! The soothing section is welcome, song picks up though and ends going out well.

The Silent Man. Acoustic song, very melodic and so wonderful. Thankfully the vocals are pretty fitting. Mellow song. Very nice.

The Mirror. WOO! That starts off heavy. A nice heavy, staccato riff over some sweet drumming and haunting synth. This continues as the song just keeps picking up, eventually giving way to shred and thrash! Love it! Lots of deep LaBries vocals, that are really just awesome. All the heaviness gives way to a more melodic rest of the song. Good solos, and I love the keyboard over the last part.

Lie. Heavy, complex and cool riffing. Backed up, as with the rest of the album, by chilling keyboard with some awesome songs. Some of LaBrie's best work on the album. One of the best solos on the album in later, middle half of this song!

Lifting Shadows Off a Dream. A ballad, starts off with great bass, guitar, and keyboard work, with some simple, yet effective drumming under it all. Very powerful song, with good dynamic shifts and great work from every member.

Scarred. How can you not love that jazzy intro!? I kind of hate to keep repeating, but the contributions from all band members are superb. Well built song that really feels like it moves.

Space-Dye Vest. A pretty synth driven piece, it gives me a very space rock feel to it. Dark and heavy at times, always with a chilling keyboard riff playing, there are those audio clips that seem to creep into DT songs to often. Real killer in my book. It picks up later with some simple, heavy guitar playing, as the song continues to be pushed by the keys. Ends on a great note.

Wow. What an album. Some of Dream Theater's finest work. Fresh, has metal, has prog, great composition and musical skills saturate the album. Also LaBrie's vocals, (NEVER a strong point with me) are overall pretty good. There are some times when I went to rip my ears off, but that's what we get with LaBrie. I keep talking about the great musicianship, because besides that, it's a shame Moore left after this album. His playing was second to none on this album. Overall, superb album with all the DT classics, including some bad vocals, audio clips, and moments that drag. This album is probably a bit too long.

A really tough choice. This album really deserves a 4.5 but since I can't do that...wait, this is my review! (Just do know I can't give an album that falls in between a five star rating...)


Report this review (#284977)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars After witnessing Dream Theater live for the first time in 2002, I had to get my hands on one of their albums as soon as possible. Not knowing much about the band, I purchased the cheapest album at the store. Thankfully, that album happened to be "Awake", the gem of Dream Theater's discography.

One of the more interesting things about this album is that it has more of a dark atmosphere than what is on most Dream Theater releases. With tracks such as "Space-Dye Vest" and "Voices", we have Dream Theater bordering on some doomy/gothic territory. At the same time, we have the band we are accustomed to providing us with well-crafted and progressive instrumental sections. Much like their previous album, compositions are kept to a reasonable length, with only "Scarred" eclipsing the 10-minute mark.

Awake also has singer James Labrie in fine form. His vocals maintain the power they had on Images and Words, but he adds a level of grittiness to his vocals that weren't there previously. His performances on "Innocence Faded", "Voices", and "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream" are among career highlights. Unfortunately, when touring for this album, Labrie suffered a vocal cord injury that would affect his singing for quite some time.

This album also ushers in a newfound heaviness for the band, which is no doubt aided at times through John Petrucci's introduction of the seven-string guitar into Dream Theater's sound. While the seven-string is used only on select tracks, the majority of the tracks ("6:00", "Lie", and "The Mirror" among them) should please metal heads with respect to their heaviness. Fans of diversity will appreciate the inclusion of tracks such as "The Silent Man" and "Space-Dye Vest" to hear the band tackle more stripped-down material that is just as strong as their more "acrobatic" material.

I've heard all the Dream Theater albums since my discovery of Awake, and I have yet to hear the band sound as good in the studio. Awake is fully deserving of the maximum rating of five stars!!

Report this review (#293132)
Posted Monday, August 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
4 stars What a spectacular record. Its hard to say more than that. Every track has such a magnificent progression, all the way from the awesome drum intro on 6:00 to the haunting beauty of Space Dye Vest . The instrumental track Erotomania has that awesome keyboard intro, and then Voices has those magnificent lyrics, and the oddly catchy 9/8 into groove. The Silent Man finishes that trio with a wonderful acoustic track. The Mirror and Lie are a wonderful duo, flowing into each other with great ease. Innocence Faded is a good track, albeit more of a pop based sound. The classic Lifting Shadows off a Dream is also wonderful. To end my horribly unchronological approach to reviewing the album, Scarred is also such a great track.
Report this review (#294379)
Posted Friday, August 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars After being disappointed by what I heard on Images And Words it took me another 7 years to regain my courage and give Awake a proper shot. Incidentally, the music video I saw for Lie didn't impress me that much to begin with, which is why I decided to take things slow and borrow this title from a friend before purchasing a copy of my own.

Luckily I was very positively surprised by my first experience and the material continued to grow with repeated listens. To me, this is the first consistent Dream Theater release that fills in the gap between the 80's sound of Images And Words and what we experienced on Scenes From A Memory. Kevin Moore's work really shines through on Awake and gives me a glimpse of what could have been if he would have decided to maintain his position in the band. We also get an unexpected song contribution from John Myung which might give a better understanding of his style, something we don't get to hear enough on the other Dream Theater albums.

The highlight of the album for me is the three song trilogy called A Mind Beside Itself which I immediately recognized from the album Live Scenes From New York. Even though this studio take is much more polished, I actually happen to prefer the live energy that oozes from Dream Theater whenever they perform on stage. This is something that the band definitely got better at with time and could therefore explain why Awake and the other early albums just don't do as much for me as their later releases.

With Awake Dream Theater showed that they were anything but a one trick pony of a collective and depicted the first signs of the things to come. It's not the most polished of their releases but I can definitely recommend it to anyone who still haven't heard the band's early '90s material.

***** star songs: Voices (9:53)

**** star songs: 6:00 (5:31) Caught In A Web (5:28) Innocence Faded (5:43) Erotomania (6:45) The Silent Man (3:48) The Mirror (6:45) Lie (6:34) Scarred (11:00) Space-Dye Vest (7:29)

*** star songs: Lifting Shadows Off A Dream (6:05)

Report this review (#294536)
Posted Saturday, August 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm Awake

Great album! Completely different in mood than I&W. This one is dark and conveys feelings of isolation, sadness, betrayal, and addiction.

6:00- One of the most memorable drum intros and great rhythm guitar work by Petrucci.

CAUGHT IN A WEB: Uber 90's sound (whatever that is). Love the vocal melodies and Labries singing is wonderful-SO MUCH POWER!

INNOCENCE FADED: Just an alright song. Highlights include another awesome melodic riff by Petrucci. Outro is quite good.

A MIND BESIDE ITSELF: Great epic masterpiece. EROTOMANIA mini overture which introduces us to the main musical theme in THE SILENT MAN then segues into VOICES, which is one of my favorite songs. Includes one of Petruccis best Wah induced solo's. This along with THE SILENT MAN have wonderful lyrics.

THE MIRROR: Good song with a strong chorus. Seems like this song was recorded when Petrucci was doodling around with a 7 String for the first time in his life.

Lie: Just like THE MIRROR. When listening to this song I feel like I am back in the 90's watching a movie that is based in the future and this song is part of that movies soundtrack.

LIFTING SHADOWS OFF A DREAM: Not the best song on the album but still a good listen.

SCARRED: Jazzy intro by Myung. An overall great song

SPACE DYE VEST: One of the most beautiful melodies in a song. This is a great song and full of emotion.

Overall 4.8 stars.

Report this review (#299900)
Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is not only my favorite album of Dream Theater after "Images and Words" and "Metropolis", but is also one of the greatest masterpieces of progressive metal.

An evolution of the sound of its predecessor, "Awake" is quite dark (as can be seen in the spectacular "The mirror" and "Lie") and melancholy ("The Silent Man" and "Space-Dye Vest").

There are no weak tracks here.I think the fact that I say this is due to my love of Dream Theater), which is somewhat blind), but the truth is that I can not find faults, well, actually a battery of Mike Portnoy is not in the best-and that because he was a monster-of drumsticks and keyboards Kevin Moore sometimes irritate me a little, although he delivered in his best work in DT (maybe because your last job) .

And then, what more can I say? 5 stars for sure!

Report this review (#319892)
Posted Sunday, November 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is, in my opinion, the most complete DT album, and the only one I can listen to front to back without needing to come up for air. It's not quite perfect (nothing ever is), but it's the closest they've gotten to it.

From the opening drum fill of '6:00,' it was clear to me that the band was still full of the interesting ideas featured on IAW, yet they managed to distill them into songs that didn't appear to needlessly wander (see 'Learning to Live'). There are moments (parts of 'Innocence Faded' and 'The Silent Man' in particular) that still don't fully resonate with me, but the rest of the album is so damn good - both in terms of songwriting and the crisp production quality - that I always let it slide.

I kept buying DT albums up to and including SDOIT, but they never quite reached the heights they attained here. As others have stated, Kevin Moore isn't the keyboard whiz that Jordan Rudess is, but his contributions elevated the songs in a way that none of the other keyboard players can or did.

4.5 stars, rounded up.

Report this review (#378537)
Posted Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I don't know what is wrong with me but I don't understand or share the hype about this album. I really liked the very diversified first strike "When Dream And Day Unite" and the magic moments on the progressive rock revival masterpiece "Images And Words" but "Awake" is mostly boring, complicated and dull to me.

Just to give you an example, the epic song "Scarred" is very diversified but not catchy or addicting for a single second. It lacks the hectical genius of "Metropolis" or the touching and profound melodies of "Surrounded" or the freshness of "Only A Matter Of Time". This track is just long and boring, it has no magic tranquility and no guts either. The often cited "Space-Dye West" shows us that Kevin Moore has some skills but the intro already rather reminds me of a boring evening in a high society restaurant for rich couples and this track never has the same magic as the harmonies he created on "Surrounded" or "The Killing Hand". The song is very relaxed and vchilling and surely has a special atmosphere and is a good choice to close an album on a calm note but to me this song is mostly boring and overrated. "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream" makes me even faster fall asleep. Normally, I like silent progressive tracks as I am a huge fan of King Crimson but this pop ballad is simply dumb.

Those relaxed songs do not fit with the rather modern and rocking songs like "Lie" where James LaBrie sounds like if a disco pop vocalist would try out to do some hard rock or the very rhythm orientated opener "Six O'Clock" that is one of the rare songs that I really like on this album because every instrument shows its forces in this surprising and very progressive track that unites everything about the band.

But a part of the diversified and still somewhat straight "Six O'Clock" and the beautiful "Innocence Faded" that convinces me with a catchy chorus and beautiful guitar leads that could have been on "Images And Words", there is no third song on the record which I really adore and that's why I really feel disappointed about this so well received record.

I would even go as far and say that this album is probably the weakest and most boring one in the band's very strong and stunning discography. I would rather listen to the first two albums and recommend those than this overrated boredom in aesthetic perfection.

Originally published on on January 3rd of the year 2011.

Report this review (#379065)
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dream Theater are one of my favorite bands, and so this album is really close to my heart. It takes me back to when I was first discovering this band. This was probably the fourth album I heard from the band (the first three in order were: Scenes, Six Degrees and Images and Words). I really love the sound on this album and feel it compliments Images and Words really well. This album showcases a band really finding its footing on who they are and what they sound like. I don't think it quite reaches the heights of some of the bands masterpiece albums, but it is still an essential piece of the Dream Theater discography.

The album starts fantastically with a drum fill. "6:00" is just a lot of fun, and a high energy rocker that is the perfect way to get the album started. "Caught In A Web" is another great track that really has a great chorus and hard rocking choruses full of meaty guitar. I think James LaBrie does an incredible job singing in this song. The same is true for "Innocence Faded." There is just something bright and happy about this song that is completely infectious. It slows things down just a bit and features some great melodies. The last minute and a half of this song is one of my favorite sections of the album. The highlight here is John Petrucci's guitar playing. It is truly stellar.

Speaking of stellar playing, the next song on the album is "Erotomania" which is an instrumental tour de force. This is Dream Theater at their best. One of my favorite elements of the band is their instrumental sections where they display their technical prowess on their instruments. This is a great song to highlight that side of Dream Theater. The organ and the guitar trade off throughout the piece, and the bass and drums provide an excellent backdrop for the trade off to take place. It is just such a joy to listen to. This song leads into "Voices" which is fantastic. This track displays everything great about Dream Theater. There are heavy moments and moments where things slow down and LaBrie is singing a beautiful melody over piano. There is some great emotion displayed here, and it makes for a fantastic track. "The Silent Man" rounds out the "A Mind Beside Itself" trilogy and is a really nice track featuring acoustic guitar. Not particularly one of my favorites, but it is pleasant to listen to and works well as a breathing point on a fairly heavy album.

Dream Theater gets back into the heaviness with a great track called "The Mirror." There are some great heavy guitar riffs as well as some inventive keyboard playing from Kevin Moore. This is a really great track! This leads right into "Lie" is one of the heavier tracks on the album. It features some really cool and heavy guitar riffs. I can't help but really like this song, even though I can't pinpoint exactly why. "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream" slows things down a bit again. This song creates a really cool mood. It is really a brilliant track that evokes a lot of emotion. In a perfect world, this song would have been a big radio hit.

"Scarred" is a song I initially didn't really think much of. But, over time, the genius of it has slowly been revealed to me and now I consider it one of the best showcases for what Dream Theater is all about. There is a buildup of excitement through the song that is really awesome. "Space Dye Vest" is a wonderful way to close this wonderful. There is just something so unique about this track. It is haunting in a good way, specifically the keyboard work. It doesn't sound like any other Dream Theater song. I really have a soft spot for it and really think it is among their best.

"Awake" is close to being a masterpiece, but not quite there. I really do love it and cherish it in my music collection. I think it is a great showcase for Dream Theater and a great follow up after the monumental "Images and Words." It must have been quite a task to follow up such an album, but they did so very well and continued making high quality music. I think this album has a great blend of heavy and soft tracks, strong melody and intense virtuosity. I love Dream Theater and would recommend this album to all Progressive Metal fans.

Report this review (#380016)
Posted Friday, January 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I think of this album, I think about Kevin Moore leaving directly afterwards. To me, this relatively dark album reflects Moore's dark period before abandoning Dream Theater to pursue his own interests, which can be seen in documentaries about the Awake album. I think Dream Theater lost something truly special with Kevin Moore, with one important aspect being his lyrics. While Jordan Rudess is rightly lauded as a wizard on the keyboards, and is far more technically capable than Moore, he hasn't written any lyrics for the group to date, and I can't help feeling like Rudess is just an addition to the group rather than an integral member. The number of classic songs have been few and further between as well since Moore left, leading to my love of Moore-era Dream Theater.

'Images And Words' was a relatively light album, especially for a metal band. 'Awake' is a lot heavier, which is reflected by the darker colours used in the album cover. It's significantly more difficult to get into this album, but there are many treats here to be discovered.

Treat #1 appears at the very beginning of the album. 6:00 sports phenomenal drumming, and fantastic lyrics. This track isn't particularly memorable, but it's still an interesting item indeed.

Caught In A Web isn't instantly likeable, but it has grown on me. It's quite easy to describe this song as 'ugly', and that's how I see it, with the heavy guitar sound, and crunchy drumming. However, the instrumental here really captivates me. The unison part between keys and guitar is brilliant, and there are some odd time signatures thrown in for good measure. What really gets me is the drumming at around 3:33; while not technically brilliant, it just sounds really cool.

Innocence very out of place on this album. With a much lighter feel than the songs surrounding it, this track loses you very quickly. Some of LaBrie's weirdest singing is here, and probably sports the most 'misheard lyrics' of any Dream Theater track. Also peculiar, is the 1:26 outro instrumental, which repeats itself in a really confusing way until the end. A very bizarre song, with only a few good moments.

The next three tracks make up Petrucci's 20-minute epic A Mind Beside Itself, the subject matter of which is still in debate. When listened to as an epic, this track does not in any way rival other great prog epics, but each part is interesting in its own right. Erotomania is a fine instrumental with many gorgeous passages, including one that was deleted from Pull Me Under. Voices is a strange, cold track with haunting lyrics. The guitar solo definitely makes this track very worthwhile! The epic ends on a light note with The Silent Man, an acoustic track which was subsequently released as a single, which reuses a theme from Erotomania. Many people don't see these tracks as one epic, but since they are listed that way in the liner notes, I tend to listen to all three at once.

The Mirror is a great heavy track, with lyrics describing Portnoy's struggle with alcoholism, and is often seen as a prelude to the Twelve-Step Suite. Starting with the instrumental Puppies on Acid, which had already been played in concerts by that point, this track continues to be heavy for the entire duration. The highlight is definitely the 90-second outro, which includes a theme from Space-Dye Vest, and has a very heavy but laid-back sound.

This segues straight into Lie which I have never been able to enjoy. This track was released in an edited form as a single, and it's too simplistic for my tastes. The only part of this song I enjoy is the outro, which is actually a continuation of the outro to The Mirror. It feels like Lie has just interrupted the song! The guitar solo in this outro is one of Petrucci's best in my opinion.

Lifting Shadows Off A Dream is another lighter song, but this one doesn't stand out as much as Innocence Faded, and so fits better into the album. This is a very beautiful track, with a great dynamic range that varies as the song progresses. Mike Portnoy uses a drum pattern in the second verse that he used in both Another Day and Eve. The instrumental is sufficiently complicated to be interesting, and this track is surprisingly memorable, and I particularly like this track.

The epic Scarred is the highlight of the album though. This song starts with a very laid-back, almost jazzy entrance, which soon turns to the heavy metal Dream Theater sound we are all used to. This song is quite long, but it is mostly dominated by vocals, and the first chorus only appears at 4:35! Throughout the vocal part there are different moods, from angry to desperate, and there is a sense of urgency to this piece. The instrumental is one of Dream Theater's finest (though not coming close to the Metropolis instrumental). There is a heavy complex section followed by my favourite Moore keyboard solo, and my second favourite Dream Theater guitar solo (with first place being reserved for Take The Time). A time signature heavy outro concludes this epic piece.

Closing the album, however, is Moore's emotional piece Space-Dye Vest. This, of course, was his way of saying goodbye to the band, and indeed to progressive metal as a whole. Composed solely by Moore, this track sounds very different to anything Dream Theater have done before or since. The music is lead mainly by Moore on the piano, but the rest of the band come in towards the end to play the outro. The lyrics are cryptic, but LaBrie delivers them brilliantly and with emotion. Interestingly his pitch seems lower than on most of the other tracks from this period, as if he is talking and being more serious than with other tracks. Some of the effects, like little fizzes and pops throughout, tend to detract from this moving piece, but the sound clips from TV are fascinating, and I have spent a lot of time trying to find their meaning. It's a shame Moore had to leave Dream Theater, but by leaving us this track, we at least get some reward. Dream Theater have yet to play this song live, as it would be wrong to play it without him.

'Awake' is not the follow-up to 'Images And Words' you may have expected. While 'Images And Words' is a cleaned, polished and bright gem of an album, 'Awake' is rather gritty and dark. There is a lot more emotion and slightly less virtuosity on this album. It's a harder album to get into, and there are some weak points, but there are some songs on this record that you really should hear.

Report this review (#437364)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I rate this album mainly on the strength of "The Mirror" and "Space Dye Vest", which for me are the best ones in it, and for me this album is worth having just because of this two songs. The Mirror is mainly a heavy metal song, but what a metal song it is, with great heavy guitar riffs and dark moods... and within the song it incorporates a little bit of the theme that is to be found within the other great track. Space Dye Vest has to be the most emotive song Dream Theater has created, and perhaps their best ballad as well, very mellodic and beautiful, it was the last great gem from Kevin Moore before he left the band. Another song I have come to like very much is "Lifting Shadows off a Dream", a very soft and beautiful ballad. The rest of the album is good also, including more metal moments, ballad moments, and proggy moments... but in the end none of them move me as much as these songs. I find 3.5 stars to be a very fair rating for this album, rounding it up to 4.
Report this review (#441404)
Posted Sunday, May 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is it, Dream Theater's unquestioned masterpiece and one of the best rock or metal albums ever. As a collection of songs, Images and Words might actually be a bit better, but as a well-flowing album that takes you on one helluva journey, Awake wins out. That is not to say that this album isn't loaded with great songs, because it is - Voices, Scarred, Erotomania, Lifting Shadows Off a Dream, The Mirror and Space Dye Vest are all among the band's best tunes to date.

I have seen some downgrade this album because there isn't as much wanking as usual, which supposedly isn't playing to their strengths, but I would argue that that is one of the main reasons why this album is so great! DT can write great songs and not have to go over board with the playing of a million notes when they want to, and they can do it well, as this album proves.

This being Kevin Moore's swan song with the band actually works in its favor, as the keyboards in a few songs, like Lie and Caught in a Web, took somewhat of a back seat, which was a good thing, as it gave those songs more of a metal vibe, featuring some keyboard flavoring in the background, instead of piercing your eyes with crazy solos or synth leads.

Also, Dream Theater has never been a band accused of writing great lyrics on a regular basis, but on Awake, they did! This album is filled with great lyrics, many of them fairly abstract, leaving a bit of wonderment when listening to the songs; the best lyrics are often the ones that don't beat you over the head with their meaning.

I get why this album might be a bit odd at first for new fans who are used to their more modern sound, but once you get used to the style and the better sound (no compression and the instruments are allowed to breathe, which gives the album more dynamic range), this album shines through as Dream Theater's magnum opus.

Report this review (#450455)
Posted Friday, May 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Awake was the last of their albums with keyboardist Kevin Moore and the darker 'haunting' quality he brought to the bands music. Derek Sherinian and then Jordan Rudess would bring a more flamboyant approach.

The album is hit and miss, some tracks definitely hit the mark more than others, but it is the during the time when the band was still on their way up and maturing while displaying their creativity to push to new levels. At times the compositions and song writing are a little raw but there are flashes of brilliance on almost all of the songs.

Highlights would be 'Scarred', (now my favorite track after listening for many years), 'Voices' is the big epic track, and segments of 'Caught in a Web' and 'Lie' still give me chills from the instrumentation.

Overall it is the darker, heavier album of DT's fantastic early work.

Report this review (#451848)
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Santa Claus' personal alarm clock...

Despite modest critical success, its failure to produce another hit single left Awake a commercial failure in the eyes of the record label.

The Good: After the success of Images and Words it would have been easy for the band to play it safe and just replicate their winning formula. Instead they decided to follow a heavier path but the result was equally magnificent. Whilst the album still contains their signature sound it also has a darker edge.

Awake was also the final Dream Theater album to feature; interesting lyrics, sensible drum levels, Kevin Moore, and outstanding performances from James LaBrie. The album showcases his vocal ability and diversity, ranging from the gritty Lie to the melodic Lifting Shadows Off a Dream, and the stratospheric highs of Innocence Faded where he appears to start singing in a language unbeknown to mankind. The aforementioned song also features possibly the greatest outro in ALL of prog metal, and is perfectly complimented by one of the greatest intros, a couple of tracks earlier in the form of 6:00.

Whilst all of the songs found here are pretty unique, some are more unique than others. Step forward Space Dye Vest. This was written solely by Moore who's keyboards had played a more subdued and atmospheric role for rest of the album. Just by listening to it, its pretty obvious where he wanted his music to go and why he left the band, although I still think its an absolutely brilliant and subtle composition.

The Bad: No weak tracks to be found here but I think Caught in a Web falls short of the rest.

The Verdict: Their 'other' magnum opus.

Report this review (#457890)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars i can never say enough about "Awake" - my introduciton to Dream Theater and to progressive metal. and what a thrill its been in the 16 years since then (i only heard it in 1995, more than a year after it was released).

i simply dont think its possible to do a song-by-song review of Awake since each one is a masterpiece that has something unique to offer and, at the same time, is a chapter of the Awake story.

Stand out songs:

6:00 Innocence Faded A Mind Beside Itself: I. Erotomania A Mind Beside Itself: II. Voices The Mirror Lie Lifting Shadows Off a Dream Scarred Space-Dye Vest

Report this review (#472740)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ahh, the wonderful feeling of experiencing what was taken away form you.

Power's back on, the hurricane's history and my ever-expanding music library is back in business again. It's funny how I listened to this album more than anything during the actual hurricane.

This along with "Systematic Chaos" is one of the outfit's darker albums. Yes, there are some heavy riffs (in 90's standards), but these two albums are, indeed, the most haunting and riveting of DT releases. While "Train Of Thought" went straight for the heavy metal approach, these two records differed greatly in their similar approach, and "Awake" would further develop on the blueprint established by "Metropolis" and "Learning To Live" amongst others on "Images & Words".

"6:00" is an interesting track simply because "Images & Words" still lingers in the band's sound, but the heavier aspect in the band's future sound is coming, almost like the "somewhat-calm-before-the-storm" feeling. There's still a "pop" aspect in this album, the same one that would carry with the band until "Metropolis, Pt. 2" (despite ballads like "The Spirit Carries On").

"Caught In A Web" was almost to seem like the next "Pull Me Under", another progressive track with hooking lyrics and a catchy chorus,, but yet there's that slumbering beast known as "metal". It begins to emerge here. It breaks out unprenounced behinds LaBrie's soaring vocals, but you still don't really see the metal aspect in the band's music yet, especially with "Innocence Faded" next, which is almost entirely their version of the pop song.

"A Mind Beside Itself" is quite an interesting suite. This was just one in a line of songs (or tracks) that DT would release on their albums. There was always that one song (or group of tracks) that the band would use to try and push the boundries on the limits of music. "Metropolis, Pt. 1" was that very track on "Images & Words", followed by "A Mind Beside Itself" on "Awake" and "Burning My Soul > Hell's Kitchen > Lines In The Sand" on "Falling Into Infinity."

"Erotomania" was the outfit's time to shine. This instrumental section focused on Petrucci's chops, Portnoy's blistering speed, Moore's haunting qualities and Myung's.... eh... bass.... skills (the guy doesn't get enough love for the the awesome things he does to support this band). "Voices" continues behind Petrucci's guitar, although you can still hear the metal coming in, especially after 50 seconds, where Petrucci drops the octave and shatters the subwoofers, followed by LaBrie's tantalizing "every Sunday Morning" line, "the spider in the window, the angel in the pool, the old man takes the poison..." The entire suite is gold, and it's construction is wonderful, except....

"The Silent Man". Eh... The sudden interruption into this acoustic guitar-laden track just breaks the magic made before in the previous two tracks. This song just doesn't feel like a part of the suite. It's....missing a conclusion, this suite. It doesn't end. At least, not properly. The song itself is wonderful, by itself, but as a part of the suite.... It kills it, I'm sorry. It doesn't work.

And then, like a flip of the switch, the inner beast is unleashed...

"The Mirror > Lie" is the perfect evidence that Dream Theater had planted their left foot firmly in the world of heavy metal. The beginning riff just screams "face-crushing". The first and a half instrumental minutes would be played at live shows before and after this album's release called "Puppies On Acid", which makes sense, I guess... These two songs are the true manifestation of Dream Theater's dark side, one that would be explored, extracted and expedited in future releases like ToT and SC, which is perfectly reasonable. The sound bites and clips used extensively throughout "Images & Words" and "Awake" were mainly the work of horror soundtrack-specialist Kevin Moore. "The Mirror" is a reflection on Mike Portnoy's alcoholism, another blueprint that would later be developed by Mike Portnoy's Twelve-Step Suite.

"Lifting Shadows Off A Dream" is one of the few tracks where John Myung can start off to shine. It's a very subtle track, backed by Moore's haunting and chilling chords that really set the atmosphere of this song. Coupled with LaBrie's soaring voice turns this track from another chilling horror movie into a bright, uplifting song about hopes and dreams. This is another one of Dream Theater's magical qualities, and one that would continue to define their music for years to come.

"Scarred" almost seems like "Shadows, Pt. 2". Again, it starts with Myung on the bass backed by Portnoy's cymbal taps. It starts off in a similar quiet, sleepy fashion, only this time the tempo picks up and the energy increases. That progressive metal begins to rear its ugly (and awesome) head again, and it becomes another fantastic epic, wrapped together by Moore's haunting organ sounds. But if you thought he was creepy before? You'd need to hear the most underrated Dream Theater song in existence.

"Space-Dye Vest" is not exactly the type of song you'd dance to, or get married to, or drive in the car to or....pretty much do anything to. It's a scary song, really. It's all Moore in the beginning, and then the slow electronic beat kicks in and LaBrie sings in to lull you to sleep, a deep, dreadful, eternal sleep, that is. The sound clips from movies and tv shows once again bring in that second element, that atmosphere of the outside world. It's just another majestic element of Dream Theater's music, and the true reason why Moore was brought aboard to Dream Theater to begin with.

Now I'll probably get complaints that "Oh, Space-Dye Vest is not metal! It's not DT at all! It's just their attempt to sound like Coldplay or Radiohead or Muse!" First, you're wrong. None of these bands were in existance when this song was recorded. Second, none of these band's are talented in depth. Towards the end of the song, Petrucci lights up the electric guitar and the metal aspect comes in. Yes, it's another haunting, dreary song, but it's all Dream Theater here.This is not them imitating someone else. This is 100% authentic through and through and by far one of the bands most underrated songs.

Positives: The quality, the structures, the atmospheres this outfit creates throughout this entire record. It literally sound like you're listening to a soundtrack of a movie. There's really nothing quite like it anywhere else. The instrumental talent is there, the songwriting talent is there, the complexity is there, the pop elements are there, the metal aspect is emerging there. It's a fantastic album as a whole.

Negatives: "The Silent Man" should not be a part of the suite. Great song by itself. Not in that suite.

Overall: This is a crucial release from this band. "Images & Words" laid down the blueprints of the future. "Awake" continued by laying down the foundation to cement this band in place and to develop their sound further. Sort of similar to the construction of the Washington Monument, the development slowed to a crawl, if not completely halted during "Falling Into Infinity" before continuing the construction on "Metropolis, Pt. 2". This is an important release for any Dream Theater fan. It contains everything that DT fans are familiar with. It's a great release for any fan of progressive metal.

Report this review (#512703)
Posted Thursday, September 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars My first introduction to this incredible band began right here. A friend said you have to hear this and I had no idea what to expect. When I heard that choppy off sync riff of 6:00 I was hooked immediately; "6:00 on a Christmas morning, 6:00 on a Christmas morning". The amazing dexterity of the group, the skills of Petrucci, Portnoy and LaBrie are unsurpassed. I knew this was a super group and of course they are still churning out one excellent album after another. Back in 1994 Awake was flooring the critics, they were hailing Dream Theater as master musicians, and they have improved since then. Rudess replacing Moore was one way, although Moore is an accomplished keyboardist on this album. Myung is a fantastic bassist and shines on Awake.

Best songs are 6:00 which begins with Portnoy's drums and a crunching memorable riff. I love the chorus with LaBrie powering out an amazing performance; "Melody walks through the door and Memory flies out the window, nobody knows what they want til they finally let it all go".

Caught in a Web is truly a masterful track that sounds awesome here. LaBrie is fantastic on vocals, his high register is faultless. Moore is a virtuoso on this too, and since I have heard Rudess on this and both sound amazing in the solo section.

Erotomania is an instrumental that is tight, taut and terrific. Lots of fast paced lead work makes this one of the great showpieces of the album.

Voices is one of the all time greatest DT tracks with a strange time sig and massive lead break. It became a fan favourite live for good reason. LaBrie is powerful and retains a complex melody blending perfectly with the instruments.

The Mirror is another of the highlights with monster riffing guitars and keyboards to accompany. This one should have been played live more often, but it is great to return to on this album.

Lifting Shadows Off a Dream features very melodic verses and once again Moore is able to fly into a wonderful keyboard solo.

Scarred is awesome due to Myung's contribution along with Portnoy. They are an indelible rhythm machine. It builds into a full blown metal passage, and detours into many time sig changes.

Space-Dye Vest is a classic DT song and the last time Moore would play on an album before being replaced. There is a melancholy feel as though saying farewell to a friend. The spacey atmospherics are wondrous and it is a perfect way to end an excellent prog metal album.

So overall I was blown away by Awake and of course ended up getting hold of everything the band would produce. I can comfortably award this 4 stars as it is one of the best DT albums and one of the best of 1994.

Report this review (#524537)
Posted Friday, September 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars The best album of Dream Theater, and the maximum they can achieve with its mix of metal with progressive rock.

There's an emotional charge in the disk generated by the large tour for Images & Words. Seriously, everytime that happens a bad thing in any band I hope that something good is released later. We can see a little of this in the departure of Portnoy and the release of A Dramatic Turn of Events, but that's another story ...

The best of the best of each band member is present in Awake. A bass with creative lines and with groove of Myung (as few times was done later), the best solos of Petrucci and the introduction of his seven-string guitar, drum lines linking creativity and technique by Portnoy, a fantastic performance with great range from Labrie, and especially the emotional, atmospheric and tasteful touch of Kevin Moore.

Additionally, the lyrics carry the heavy emotional tone of the disc, with the band providing the best lyrics of its history.

Everything on the disc worth to be listened and analyzed, an essential disc for the progressive metal enthusiast.

Report this review (#613163)
Posted Thursday, January 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars I can't blame Dream Theater for taking their time about crafting a followup for Images and Words - after all, that album was such a huge hit they must have felt a huge pressure to produce an album worthy of that illustrious predecessor. I'm not sure they succeeded. Though I was initially impressed by Awake, over time I feel that it hasn't stood up to the extent that Images and Words has.

I find James LaBrie's vocals rather soulless - he's technically very proficient, but perhaps a little *too* polished and I don't detect much in the way of personality or emotion in the delivery. And on the whole, that's how I feel about the rest of the performances too; technically they're highly accomplished, but there's a plastic, too-perfect sheen to the album which means that once all the flashy prog showboating is done I'm left curiously unmoved, despite the fact that as I understand it a lot of the songs deal (directly or indirectly) with things which meant a great deal to the band. When the guys do make an effort to get emotive, they often overshoot and end up being overly cheesy and saccharine. I may be Awake, but I'm not feeling anything.

Report this review (#617884)
Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Dream Theater's Awake is a masterpiece.

There are many different music styles here but I don't think this takes away from the CD. It just shows that DT is a very talented band. The first three songs, 6 Oclock, Caught in a Web, and Innocence Faded, are shorter and hard rocking. They are good but the real magic happens at the start of Erotomania and on.

Erotomania and Voices really are just fantastic. The song lyrics are clever and twisted like a person's sick mind: "Maybe I am just Cassandra pleading..."

The Silent Man is an accoustic song that is fun. The Mirror and Lie are examples of DT playing really heavy metal. When I was twenty I remember thinking that these guys were as hard hitting as Metallica but more progressive. I still think this is true.

Lifting Shadows off a Dream is a slow ballad that even my wife likes, even though she dislikes metal. DT likes to put one or two slow songs on each CD. I like this. I know another reviewer said that these slow songs are typical FM radio ballads. Maybe that is true with the short song Wait for Sleep off of the Images and Words CD, but what radio station would play Lifting Shadows since it is six minutes long? Plus it is beautiful and provides a nice break up of the heaviness.

I think the real gems of the disc are the last two songs. Scarred is a masterpiece of both song writing and music playing. Long, full of change ups, and heart breaking. "How come you don't understand me? How come I don't understand you? Thirty Years says we're in this together, so open your eyes." It is a tragic song about a marriage coming to an end.

People say that Space Dye Vest does not match with the other songs on this CD. That is true. It fits better with Kevin Moore's solo cd Dead Air for Radio. But this song is outstanding. Some songs that rely on movie clips just fall flat. This one rises above that and what can I say? It works. And it is very moving and haunting.

My bother and I somtimes sit around and try to explain our musical tastes and explain what makes one CD good and what makes one great. It is a hard question to answer. A good CD is a B and a great one is an A. But why? That is the million dollar question. But for me Awake is an A. It is more than good. It is great.

Report this review (#746932)
Posted Monday, April 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars In Awake, Dream Theater shows a much darker and more metal approach to their music. The spectacular songwriting from Images & Words is still there, as is the technical proficiency of all the members. I believe this is Myung and LaBrie at their finest, and the other members are able to find a unique sound for this album as well.

'6:00' begins the album with pure energy with a crunchy guitar line and a cool drum groove and never lets up. A great beginning to a great album.

'Caught In a Web' like 6:00 features crunchy guitar and has a really catchy chorus. The guitar breakdown at around the halfway point is one of my favorite DT instrumental passages.

'Innocence Faded' is Dream Theater showing more of their pop side, as the song structure isn't really complex. The chorus is also catchy in this song, and is James LaBrie at his best vocally.

'Erotomania' is the first part of the "A Mind Besides Itself" suite. The guitar riffs in this song are amazing, and Moore lays down some nice supporting keys. The song also has amazing flow and parts segue into the next seamlessly. It uses a few motifs from classical music which is interesting as well.

'Voices' is the second part of the suite and begins with a cool riff in 9/8. The drums are really nice in this one because Mike Portnoy is able to take the time signature and build off it with different variations filled with syncopation and challenging rhythms.

'The Silent Man' concludes the suite with melancholic acoustic guitar and LaBrie's vocals. The song is decent, but fits in well with the mood of the rest of the album.

'The Mirror' is a brutally heavy song and Dream Theater's real look into heavy metal. It is based on a repetitive and heavy guitar riff backed by additional melodies played on keyboard. The song contributes greatly to the darker mood of the album. The song segues perfectly into 'Lie,' which has, like the mirror, some of DT's heavier riffing.

'Lifting Shadows Off a Dream' is a slower song highlighted by Myung's bass. I've never quite heard bass played like this; it's heavy in tone, yet astral.

'Scarred' is the mandatory-song-over-ten-minutes track of the album, and there is nothing bad about it. There are plenty of great guitar riffs and bass lines here and they are all linked wonderfully.

'Space-dye Vest' is Kevin Moore's swansong, and it's a beautiful one at that. The song features a beautiful melody played on piano and has both LaBrie's vocals and various sampled tracks throughout. Moore's name is so printed on this song sometimes I forget LaBrie is actually singing. Fantastic song and rather fitting close to this dark album.

Overall, Awake is a worthy predecessor to the great Images & Words, yet is not a copy. The album remains one of Dream Theater's darkest albums, and has some absolutely amazing moments.


Report this review (#771375)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Awake is Dream Theater's 3rd studio album, which has more of a grungy sound than any other of their albums. I guess it's just Dream Theater's spin on the grunge rock music that was popular at the time. It's also the last with keyboardist Kevin Moore.

As with all other Dream Theater albums, the extraordinary skill of the members is obvious. I think that on this album there is more of a focus on the songwriting than anything else, which makes sense, because the band was trying to create a radio hit that was as big as their 1992 hit Pull Me Under.

The grungy sound of this album is unique to all other Dream Theater albums. Many people state that this is the band's best album. I would disagree, but I would note that this album may appeal to people who mightn't otherwise like the band's music. It's arguably their most accessible album. Some might say that James LaBrie was at his vocal peak on this album, which was just before he got food poisoning and got his vocal chords damaged for a number of years.

Stand out tracks include the opener 6:00, Voices, and the 11 minute epic Scarred; but all of the songs are good.

Overall: This is a solid release from Dream Theater, definitely worth picking up if you're a fan of some of the band's music. 4/5

Report this review (#823846)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is such a grower! I remember when I used to dislike the opening track. The album as a whole is...weird! They start off with a full fledged jazz/hard rock song followed by a metallic Caught in a Web. The next song starts off with a really amazing melody! However Innocence Faded was one of the two songs on this album which took a long time to sink into my brain. When it did, I somehow totally got it! Very hard to explain such a feeling but now that's one of my favorite songs on the album. There are moments in the song where I can hear a major U2 influence! Weird? That's Awake!

That to me represents the first part of this album. Coming to Part II : right after they end Innocence Faded (in that crazy, crazy way) you'd think they might want to take a break. Absolutely not! The next song takes the insanity to another level! Erotomania is like a mega jazz/metal/rock fusion monster song which kind of reminds me of Dixie Dregs. Mind-blowing introduction to the 2nd part. And now finally the album takes a breather...

Voices is like this dramatic epic which I think is one of DT's finest songs! Fantastic lyrics, amazing atmosphere and feel. Progressive in the truest sense of the word. Silent Man is a brilliant acoustic song written by Petrucci. Humble ending to the suite. Love the chorus!

The Mirror and Lie take a complete 180 degree turn! Sounds nothing like any other song on the album. All the jazz elements are taken off. These two songs are like some symphonic-metallic-headbanging experience throughout. There are a few meter changes here and there. Just enough to keep the song dynamic and interesting. Portnoy does really well in those areas.

The final part of this album is I think the most interesting! Three songs. Three totally weird, unique songs! Lifting Shadows is like a magical experience. It's a song that might take a few listens to get the hang of. A few U2 influences here n there. Myung writing the lyrics makes it even more special!

I'd mentioned earlier that two songs from this album took quite some time to 'sink into my brain'. Scarred. Yes that's the one. However now I can safely say that this is one of DT's greatest achievements. The guitar solo towards the end is simply EPIC! Space-Dye Vest is the last Moore-DT song. This is another song which i think is a DT Top 10 material (Yes I know. This is not first time I'm describing a song on this album this way; but what can I do? This album is that good!)

Overall, this is one of DT's best albums. Easily in my top 3!

Report this review (#933382)
Posted Wednesday, March 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Dream Theater is a group I respect. I don't consider myself very knowledgeable about them, as I've only heard three of their albums in their entirety (this one, I&W, and SFAM), but what I've heard I've liked. This one is definitely no exception.

It took me a while to get into it, but once I did, I definitely feel good about my purchase. Better than good, as a matter of fact. This album is phenomenal! What I like about it so much is it is as emotional as it is technical. It's very different from I&W, but that's a good thing. I don't want to hear a clone of a perfect album. That suggests stagnation. No, Dream Theater went in a bold new direction, possibly influenced by turbulence following I&W's release that darkened up the sound and themes a touch, but what that did is it provided the album with a much richer sense of depth than any repetitive re-release of past material in a different package could ever provide.

The technical flash is still very much there. It's really inventive, though, and balanced well. The group at this stage was writing with a strong emphasis on individual or groups of songs, which provided a good blend of continuity and variety. For this reason, there's something for everyone with a taste for prog metal to be heard here. From the eclecticism of 6:00 to the flashy, masterfully contrasted and balanced instrumental Erotomania, to the powerful and emotional later tracks on the album, it truly does have it all, and pulls it off well. Granted, some tracks stand out more than others, and some take a few listens to appreciate, but it matures well, offers great rewards for patient listeners, and doesn't sound dated to me.

If pressed, I'd say the true highlights are Erotomania, Voices, The Mirror/Lie, Scarred, and Space-Dye Vest, a true front-runner for best song the band has ever recorded. A bit of a black sheep on this album, but please check this out. Anybody wondering if a metal group with such technical prowess can truly be emotionally expressive should hear this album, and the last track especially. A solid album in my book that I have no reservation calling a masterpiece. 5 stars for me.

Report this review (#1111649)
Posted Friday, January 10, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the incredibly successful "Images & Words", the band where on a pedestal. The problem with releasing a masterpiece is that you have to follow it up with another masterpiece. Now, this album was met with a tiny bit of confusion when released, but I do believe that out of all their albums, this album is probably the one which has aged the best.

The album is definitely a lot more darker than any of Dream Theater's other releases, and I think the reason is because they were a band that got dicked about a lot by their record company. At around this period, metal was starting to go towards a heavier and groovier motion (with the birth of Nu Metal on the rise), so the band where convinced to go heavier. These guys could have really faked this notion and released a god awful Pantera rip off, but the band where able to adopt this style and meld it into their own very successfully.

Sadly this album was the last to feature Kevin Moore. Apparently he became very introverted during the making of this album, but there is something about his playing and sound that I really love on this album. James' vocals are also some of the best I've ever heard him. Sadly this album was made before his tragic vomiting food poisoning incident which damaged his vocal chords. But, for all we know, this album is the one which wrecked his voice.

The opening track "6:00" is a drummers wet dream. Opening off with a very noticeable drum intro the song turns into a pretty great pop metal tune. The rather comical lyrics and sound clips also add a lot of atmosphere to the track too.

"Caught In A Web" is probably one of the most aggressive and heaviest songs the band have released. With some pretty heavy riffs and a brilliant keyboard riff, the song is really propelled by James' incredibly rough and angry vocals.

The album's instrumental "Erotomania" is definitely up there with one of the bands best instrumental pieces. Technically proficient with some pretty great riffs, the song is pretty impressive.

One of my personal favorite tracks has to be "Voices." A brilliant composition with some brilliant arrangements, the song really is a surprising shining moment from the band. With incredibly poetic and cryptic lyrics that deal with mental health, the song is a beautiful and twisted tune with some very haunting moments.

A very weird choice for a single, "The Silent Man" is an acoustic ballad. With a very nice arrangement with some nice lyrics and a great performance from James, the song is very touching. I have had a great history with this song (having covered it a lot of times myself) and is up there with one of my favorite Dream Theater ballads.

A song that has started to grow on me would be "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream." I do think this is a bit of a rip off of U2's sound, but the poetic lyrics and great keyboard riffs do save this song. I know a lot of fans really like this song, but I do know when to call a bluff a a bluff, and this is a bit of a bluff.

The album's longest track "Scarred" is a very interesting tune. With some pretty cool riffs and a pretty mad vocal performance from James, the song really comes to a climax with an amazing instrumental section in the middle of the track.

The album closer "Space-Dye Vest" is a very different moment for the band. Being a solo composition from Kevin Moore, the song is a very minimalist composition with very simple keyboard riffs and a low pitched vocal performance from James. Brilliant ending to the album.

In conclusion, this album is pretty much a classic Dream Theater album. After making the album of their career in "Images & Words" and go through some serious turbulence, the band came back with a dark and brooding masterpiece. It may not be my favorite Dream Theater album, but it definitely is a milestone in the bands career.


Genres: Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal, Groove Metal, Hard Rock, Pop Rock

Country of origin: USA

Year of release: 1994

Report this review (#1197260)
Posted Monday, June 23, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars I agree with the general population that Awake is one of Dream Theater's best efforts. It belongs in the top five, and deserves at least four stars. "Erotomania" is the first Dream Theater song I ever heard, and I was hooked. It was also the first video I watched on Prog Archives, shortly after I joyously discovered our favorite website! I live in central Illinois, and the FM radio situation here is pretty dire. If It wasn't for PA, I would never even have heard of Dream Theater!

Besides "Erotomania", I also love "Caught in a Web" and "Innocence Faded". In fact, I think the whole first half of the album is brilliant. There isn't a bad song on Awake. If Dream Theater weren't the fine songwriters that they are, I wouldn't care about them. The choice of Kevin Moore versus Jordan Rudess isn't really an issue for me, since neither of them has written much of the material. Awake contains some of DT's best songs IMO, and is worth at least four stars.

Report this review (#1207159)
Posted Wednesday, July 9, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars This five-piece from Boston consists of some of the most influential musicians in their respective instruments. With twelve albums released, Dream Theater has sold millions of albums over their lifetime. Varying in styles from progressive rock, to progressive metal, to even glam rock, each album differs in some way from the rest, as you can hear many unique sounds from album to album. I believe of all the albums they have released, one of my favorites has to be their album "Awake."

I noticed immediately that this album was a step in a different direction from their last album "Images and Words." Feeling more metal-oriented, songs like "Caught in a Web" and "The Mirror" are guitar-driven, featuring some of the bands heaviest riffs at the time. Guitarist John Petrucci is showcased in songs like "Erotomania" and "Lie," with his flawless execution of sweep and tremolo picking. Although Petrucci has sections of each song devoted to soloing, they are much more toned-down than previous albums, but are not over-technical, and when they do occur, it is more enjoyable for the listener. Besides such heavy riffs lies songs like "The Silent Man" and "Space-Dyed Vest," in which clean guitar is used and takes a back seat to other members of the band.

The vocals and lyrics are also fantastic in this album thanks to singer James LaBrie. LaBrie's voice is much more controlled in this album, and can be considered much more rugged than high- pitched. His voice is displayed beautifully in voices like "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream," "The Silent Man," and "Voices," which proves the range and quality of his voice.

Both the bass and keyboards help complement each song off the album. Bassist John Myung and keyboarder Kevin Moore have their own sections in this album dedicated specifically to their instrument, being "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream" and "Space-Dyed Vest" respectively. Coincidentally, these two songs happen to be my two favorite songs off this album, containing some of the best overall workmanship by the band as a whole. The darker and more melancholic themes that are so greatly expressed in this album are greatly increased with help from Myung and Moore.

As most of Dream Theater's other albums, I cannot help but focus on the drum track for every song Dream Theater releases. Mike Portnoy, the drummer during the time of this album's release, is magnificent. His flawless hits on the snare, the ease of his time signature changes, and the quality of sound off this album proves Portnoy to be one of the best drummers in progressive metal. His presence is known in songs like "6:00" and "Scarred," where Portnoy relies on other percussion.

I really enjoy listening to this album. I give it a solid 4 star rating.

Report this review (#1227384)
Posted Thursday, July 31, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Awake is one of the albums with the biggest number of changes of the rating I have ever handed out. I bought it shortly after its release and liked it quite well, especially the one six star song. The problem was, however, that I slipped into my "folky" phase when I preferred artists like Runrig, U2 and even the Dubliners over Power and Progressive Metal around the millenium. This was the reason why I didn't buy another Dream Theater album for nearly ten years, but after I returned to the more progressive and powerful sounds Awake became one of my favourite albums again.

The six star song had always been in my then much shorter favourite playlist, but it has now been joined by The Silent Man. There are other really good songs on Awake, like the first two parts of the trilogy A Mind Beside Itself which The Silent Man concludes, but none of them is outstanding. I guess that I would have awarded five stars eight years ago, but after I got Octavarium, Systematic Chaos and especially Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence, I can't uphold this rating.

So now it's down to strong four stars, certainly four and a half over at metalmusicarchives. You'd like to know the name of the six star song? Sorry for holding back. it is the last track on the album, Space Dye-Vest which I liked for its weird title even before the first listening, and still consider to be the best Dream Theater song (together with Octavarium).

Report this review (#1353200)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars The departure of Keyboardist Kevin Moore shortly after the release of this album brought an end to what many Dream Theater fans consider to be their greatest era. Though maybe not as technically sound as Jordan Rudess, or as flamboyant as Derek Sherinian, Moore's contributions had a great sense of ambience, majesty, and creativity, all of which lent its part to Dream Theater's sound very well in their early days.

After their highly successful 'Images & Words' album, there was no question that Dream Theater were in charge when it came to the obscure, underground music genre known as progressive metal, that was slowly exerting its presence over the metal world. With a growing fanbase and record label pressure to produce another hit album, the band rallied together and rose to the occasion, perhaps, not to the standards and hopes of the label, but certainly to that of the fans.

Musically similar to its predecessor, 'Awake' more-or-less replicates 'Images & Words', except with a few subtle differences. The 7-string guitar used by John Petrucci, and Kevin Moore's emphasis on mood and atmosphere on the keyboard, certainly makes this album feel slightly darker and moodier, if not in lyrics and themes, then definitely in tone.

As you would expect, the musicianship is absolutely top-notch, and especially at the time when this album came out, there were very few bands that could match Dream Theater's incredible prowess on their instruments. With more groove-based riffs and detuned guitars becoming the norm, courtesy of bands like Pantera and Korn, the band effortlessly demonstrates their ability to adapt to where the metal genre was headed, whilst still maintaining their own signature style. And James LaBrie's vocals are at their finest, though sadly whilst touring for this album, he would go on to rupture his vocal chords. His voice would never quite be the same.

Songs like '6:00', 'Caught in a Web', 'The Mirror' and the haunting 'Space-Dye Vest', all make this album a requirement in the collection of any prog metal fan.

Report this review (#1476911)
Posted Sunday, October 18, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm going to be one of those who goes against the grain here. I don't like this album very much.

For me, it feels a little dull. Perhaps it's James' effort on this. He was experiencing voice issues around this time and thus wasn't up to his effort on "Images and Words". The riffs and melodies also seem a little ... Tired? Weird? when comparing to Images and Words also. The best pieces on the whole are not as good as what was on their second effort and there are a couple of lowpoints as well.

Whatever it was it is unfortunate that considering this album contains my favourite Dream Theater song to date on it in "Space Dye Vest", I cannot give the album more than 3 stars.

The songs to look out for are Innocence Faded, Voices, The Silent Man, Lifting Shadows and Space-Dye Vest. The other songs just fall flat a little. Even Erotomania, the instrumental of the album, leaves me feeling indifferent.

Good album, just not to the peak that others would put it.

Report this review (#1529811)
Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2016 | Review Permalink
2 stars When Dream and Technique disunite

After the unexpected success of the enchanting "Images and Words", and especially the hit-single "Pull Me Under", DREAM THEATER were urged by their music label to release a new album, more aggressive, certainly because of the recent grunge explosion. And that's exactly the main issue with "Awake": under pressure, the musicians didn't have the required latitude to fully imagine and develop their compositions. So the tracks are cold, darker, complex, maybe more modern, but without a proper soul. Those expecting the magic and fantasy of their two first albums may be disappointed. No problem with that, every band can - and must - evolve, but this time the virtuosity nearly fails at serving a real cause or crafting a captivating atmosphere. As you understand, I was mostly deceived by this third studio album.

However, there are some titles that caught my attention. "Erotomania" is easily one of DT's most breathtaking instrumentals. The musicianship is unbelievable, and this track features an incalculable number changes and ambiances! Great! My favorite song of the record is the multi-faces "Voices", alternating calm, floating and raging passages with cool sound effects. The middle part is an iced beauty... Concerning the average titles, "Caught in a Web" and "Scarred" reminds me, at times, the vanished magic of the former discs. "Space-Dye Vest" has also touching moments.

The rest of the disc fails at catching my attention and at really transporting me to another world. Furthermore, the somber and modern musical direction of "Awake" does unfortunately not spare us a few moments of soapiness: "Innocence Faded", "The Silent Man", "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream"...

"Awake" is definitely not my DREAM THEATER favorite, but will allow the band to confirm its leadership in the progressive metal sphere. Too long, too complex, too cold, lacking memorable melodies, this opus is an example where the means - the virtuosity of the musicians - is used as an end, and not to an end. Nonetheless, the band members shouldn't be blamed, they were pressurized by their record label, which is in complete opposition to their style of music, requiring to "Take The Time" to give birth to. As a result, internal dissensions will appear within the group, and keyboardist Kevin Moore will left the ship. Therefore, "Awake" marks the end of the first era of DREAM THEATER.

"Awake" still remains a technical demonstration and a mandatory listen for fans. The newcomers won't find it very accessible, although there are a few interesting tracks that shouldn't be missed. Not the DT album to start with.

Report this review (#1681660)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2017 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Right after 2 albums that were really enjoyable and fun for the most part, Dream Theater went and released one of their moodiest, proggiest, and best works in their career. The overall sound lacked all of the saccharine, poppy tones of the keyboards, synths, and production, instead having a much colder, emphatic feel to it, which is especially noticeable in the much thinner sound of it. The akbum is also far more unified and cohesive in sound, each track feeling like an important eleent to the album, along with small melodic moments that end up developing in later tracks. This creates a more complete experience that ebbs and flows throughout, with some increibly heavy moments throughout, really emphasising the metal aspect of them.

I personally find the weakest section of the album to be the opening three tracks, as while they aren't bad. they do pale in comparison to the more intense, complex songs later on. This said, I do quite enjoy them all, with 6:00 being a groovy song with some fun sampling and great drumming, Caught In A Web being quite intense and having cool layering of vocals, and Innocence Faded being a somewhat competant, albeit dull ballad. This is really the only song on the album that does absolutely nothing for me. The album then picks up dramatically past this point, starting off with one of DT's better instrumental tracks, which has awesmoe riffs, a short middle section which is then later expanded in The Silent Man, and an awesome neo-classical guitar solo, which is one of the greatest parts of the entire album. I really love how this is a pseudo suite, while each song also stands on its own excaptionally well, yet working perfectly fine all as one. Voices is one of the most dramatic, powerful songs on the album, especially during the chorus, where Labrie is at his peak in the album, all before shifting its intensity into The Silent Man, a beatutiful acoustic ballad. After this is one of my all time favourite songs by the band, The Mirror, which the intro alone is enough to have caused me to adore the song, being wonderfully heavy, aggressive, poewrful, and definitely worthy of being a precursor to the excellent 12 step suite. Lie is a great continuation of the previous song, but with an even more aggressive tone. At this point, the single flaw with the album shows itself, each song feels slightly too long and drawn out, and while it really doesn't mean too much to me when it's only a couple of songs, but when it's a massive portion of the album, it does start wearing me down. I personally believe that this album could have been quite a bit shorter, but that said the songs are still mostly great. Scarred is one of the more strange epics by the band, with more off kilter, strange transitions that don't quite explode in the same way that many of them do, but the song still works amazingly due to the passionate delivery and raw emotion put into it. I definitely think that the album ends on one of the greatest songs that Dream Theater have ever written, being extremely subtle in its progression, having what seems like a haze over everything, with the vocals sounding slightly distorted. The melody is nothing short of perfection, and the way the isolated piano slowly has more elements added to it until it almost forces me to just lie down and take in all the utter beauty presented to me.

Overall, This is one of my favourite Dream Theater albums, as while it can be quite tiresome to listen to if not in the right mood, almost every song here is extremely well crafted, along with being one of the more unique albums by the band thanks to the spacey feel it has. This would definitely be a pretty poor starting point into the band, as it did take a few listens to properly grow on me, and I feel like other albums could be easier to start off with. All in all, I really feel that if they trimmed the fat on this album, this would be an easy 5 stars for me, but unfortunately, it is held back a bit due to this.

Best songs: Erotomania, The Mirror, Space Dye Vest

Weakest songs: Innocence Faded

Verdict: A colder, modier album by the band that also enploys a lot of aggression. I definitely find it to be one of DT's more difficult albums to get into, but do think that it's more than worth checking out once you've familiarised yourself with the band, with Space Dye Vest being one of my favourite songs by them, full stop.

Report this review (#2151485)
Posted Sunday, March 3, 2019 | Review Permalink

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