Dream Theater - Awake
EastWest America
Progressive Metal
11 songs (64:24)
Release year: 1994
Dream Theater
Reviewed by Keegan
Archive review

Following up a near perfect album like Images and Words is indeed a daunting task for any band, and in some cases can lead to the band’s downfall. Such is not nearly the case with Dream Theater’s 3rd release, Awake, a logical progression from I&W. In Awake, the band abandons most of its commercial aspects (Pull Me Under, Another Day), to spotlight their more epic songs. This is the album that established Dream Theater as not only technical wizards, but also virtuosi progressive rock gods.

Drummer Mike Portnoy opens the album with a staggering fill to introduce 6:00, a starter song not nearly as acceptable as the opener to their previous album. While not the best song on the album, it is still a powerful and technically impressive piece. Caught in a Web is much heavier with incredibly thick rhythm guitars (John Petrucci began playing 7-string guitars on this album). The next track is one of DT’s softer, and more poppy songs. While not necessarily a bad song, it seems out of place on the album.

Up next is the brilliant A Mind Beside Itself trilogy. Part I, Erotomania has become (deservedly so) a favorite of many fans. The only instrumental on the album, it serves as a showcase for John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy, and keyboardist Kevin Moore. Petrucci pulls off a beautiful solo in this one. Part II opens with a melodic odd time bass line by John Myung. Dynamically, this song is one of the more diverse songs on the album, with a mellow piano verse building into a very heavy chorus and heavier climax that cadence unexpectedly into another verse, with acoustic guitars. Clocking in at nearly 10 minutes, Voices is the bulk of the 20+ Minutes epic. Yet again Petrucci delivers an amazing solo in the closing minutes. Unfortunately, the band closes A Mind Beside Itself with The Silent Man, a boring all acoustic song.

Luckily, The Mirror picks up where Voices left off, with the heaviest guitar riff on the album composed entirely of open-B palm mutes played in 3 different times and astonishing double bass drumming. This song achieves the perfect mix of prog and metal. The Mirror flows directly into Lie, making the pair the second multi-song epic on Awake. Although this song was released as a single, it’s just as heavy as any other song on the album. As usual, Petrucci’s guitar solo is excellent.

Lifting Shadows Off a Dream manages to slow the pace of the album while still being an awesome track unlike the other softer songs on Awake. The song opens with a bass-harmonic driven melody followed by a guitar sound and chord sequence reminiscent of U2. The song builds to a chorus that sounds heavily influenced by Peter Gabriel. Overall, Lifting Shadows Off a Dream an excellent progressive rock song.

John Myung opens the 12-minute Scarred with a cool bass tapping line. This is without a doubt one of the best songs on the album. James Labrie shines in this song, while his vocal performance isn’t as good as on Images and Words, he’s able to hit notes he can only dream of hitting today. Scarred is loaded with impressive double bass work complex keyboard textures. The song becomes a technique showcase halfway through, with the band leaving me in awe of their skill. The album closes with Space Dye Vest, by all intensive purposes, a Kevin Moore song rather than a Dream Theater song. Who knows if this song would’ve been released on Awake had Portnoy, Petrucci, and the rest known that Moore was about to depart from the band. The song is excellent all the same and ends the album on a more somber note.

Awake is impeccably produced by John Purdell and Duane Baron, who manipulate the sounds produced by these master musicians into thick, lush soundscapes. This is undoubtedly the most well produced and best sounding Dream Theater record to date. Any fan of progressive metal most likely already owns this cd, for anyone just getting into the genre, despite a few skippers, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Killing Songs :
6:00, Erotomania, Voices, The Mirror, Scarred
Keegan quoted 98 / 100
Marty quoted 90 / 100
Jeff quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Dream Theater that we have reviewed:
Dream Theater - Dream Theater reviewed by Rob and quoted 79 / 100
Dream Theater - Live At Budokan reviewed by Aleksie and quoted no quote
Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Events reviewed by Crash and quoted 73 / 100
Dream Theater - A Change Of Seasons reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Dream Theater - Black Clouds and Silver Linings reviewed by Thomas and quoted 82 / 100
To see all 17 reviews click here
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