Dream Theater
Awake


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jorn van Schaïk USER (172 Reviews)
May 13th, 2007 | 33 replies | 4,947 views


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist


6 of 6 thought this review was well written

After the commercial success of Images and Words, Dream Theater had an audience waiting to hear something new from the band. For the first time they were working to a time schedule, and having to please the fans, some liked the first album more, some the second, but when all was said and done they came out with at that point the heaviest album they had ever recorded.

Now I have to explain what I mean by heaviest. I don't mean heaviest in the sense of crushing riffs or just flat out noise. No, the boys were subtler than that. Plus Train of Thought is really the "metal" album. No, this is heavier in the sense that it is a very moody album; a lot of tracks here thrive on the atmosphere they create, the emotions they invoke. Especially Moore and Myung's songs really put that to the forefront. Space-Dye Vest may be the best, for lack of better terminology, ballad the band (or Kevin Moore more like) has ever written. Every minute is haunting and beautiful, the keyboard/piano lines subtly enhancing the melancholy and sorrowful atmosphere in the back. The spoken word samples also give it just that extra punch, that extra bit of atmosphere. It may quite well be the best song on here.

Lifting Shadows off a Dream is obviously Myung's track. The bass lines dominate the whole song, the lyrics are more cryptic than usual, and the whole thing climaxes with one of the best choruses the band has ever given off. From the quiet bass intro to the melodic, uplifting end of the song, you're lifted higher and higher only to drop out at the end. A very intense song to listen to, without being heavy.

There are a lot more heavy and aggressive songs on here though. Unfortunately, this is the album where Dream Theater couldn't yet pull the Metallica wannabe thing off. The Mirror works fine, especially with the slower middle section, and Caught In A Web is also quite a monstrous song, but 6:00 falls hilariously flat. The whole song doesn't have any rhythm or flow, it's boring, and when Petrucci's solo comes in, you're left wondering where the skip button is. Lie tries to be The Mirror Part Two, but if anyone wanted to listen to The Mirror, they'd put that song on, so Lie is obsolete.

Then there is the suite in the middle, called A Mind Beside Itself. While it starts off in kind of boring Dream Theater fashion, with an instrumental, which meanders and meanders until you hear a theme that will be repeated in The Silent Man, it trails off into the wonderful Voices. This, again, is where the atmosphere parts go to work. The song is heavy and dark, but it also has that atmosphere; it doesn't sound like senseless aggression, it simply is a well-constructed song. The purely acoustic The Silent Man afterwards just rounds the whole suite off in perfect fashion, not too short, not too long, well done Dream Theater.

Instrumentally this isn't really the band's peak effort. For most parts you won't remember this as the "wank" album, it really has a more sensible songwriting approach than later albums. Of course, there still are the occasional JP-in-overdrive moments, like on every Dream Theater album, but that's what the fans want to see the guy play: blistering shreds all over the place. After all this band is all about the technical gymnastics. Moore is a subtler keyboardist than Rudess however. Rudess is really the one that goes nuts on the keys, playing insane combinations of notes. Moore uses his instrument more wisely, and uses it to create the dark atmospheres found on the album. Both are perfect and suitable for the band, but overall I prefer Moore as a keyboard player due to that.

This, however, is not going to be known as the Portnoy album. Where Portnoy would later take control more and more over the songwriting process, here we can still see an "equal parts" thing. Of course his drums are technical and top-notch, and the guy has never been afraid to show why he belongs in the row of drumming greats alongside Peart, Lombardo, Starr and what-have-you, but he keeps the senseless drum solos toned down. In all regards, this is more of a team effort.

So how does this all stack up for potential buyers? Well, Awake is a solid effort and required for any fan of the band period. I am not sure if it's the best album to get into the band, but if you start here it's going to be a pretty solid journey, I'd guess. Overall, it has some downs and a lot of ups, most notably the fact that this is a combined effort to produce an album instead of all the members ego-tripping all over the songs, and that may make it the best buy for people who prefer musicianship to be focused. I prefer other albums over this one, but it's well worth the money.



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user ratings (1688)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
kalkal50
May 13th 2007



2386 Comments


Not a fan of Dream Theater. Stand-up review though.

Yazz_Flute
May 13th 2007



18770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review, just voted.

I disagree with you though and believe that 6:00 and Lie are among the three best on the album. Voices is my favorite, but those two are close behind.

Digging: Eskaton - 4 Visions

Bfhurricane
May 13th 2007



6197 Comments


Gah, I still don't own this. Nice review, I should get this.

JAD
May 13th 2007



200 Comments


Great review, this is probably their best album, and one of the few ones by them that I can still listen to. Erotomania is standard, anoying DT wank, but the rest of the stuff on here is ace.

HumanMagic
September 13th 2007



39 Comments


Classic album IMO. This is second only to Deftones' Around the Fur as far goes my favorite albums of all time.

Thor
September 23rd 2007



10183 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like this more than Images and Words.

Yazz_Flute
September 23rd 2007



18770 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Images and Words is better than this imo, but this would be their third best, with SFAM being number 1 and Images being 2. It took a looong time for me to enjoy though, so if you jsut got it thor, you may find yourself liking it considerably more with time.

Thor
September 23rd 2007



10183 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That'd be cool. Scenes From A Memory is definitely their best album.

Bfhurricane
November 7th 2007



6197 Comments


I sat down for a long time today and taught myself all of Erotomania on the guitar. What a fucked up song...

Jim
November 8th 2007



5110 Comments


:lol:
that's patience

Liam1991
June 26th 2008



33 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is probably one of my favourite Dream Theater albums. Best tracks have got to be 'Innocence Faded' '6:00' 'Caught in a Web' 'Lie' and 'The Mirror'.

I'd also recommend seeing them live as well. Abosolutely spectacular show. Awesome live band.

kygermo
October 14th 2008



994 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I got a soft spot for this record since it was the first one that I had gotten. Theres not a bad tune on this jawny jawn. A mind beside itself? Yes please!

Shrapnel94
January 2nd 2009



2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice Review.
Awesome album.

6:00 has the coolest intro keyboard EVAR

FR33L0RD
March 12th 2009



1461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Need to up my vote

Willie
Moderator
March 13th 2009



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6

Yeah, this album is the only proof I need that the rest of the band should have held on to Kevin Moore.

Also, I just added their next album to the data base.

Jim
March 13th 2009



5110 Comments


man i hope it's better than SC

Willie
Moderator
March 13th 2009



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6

I have a feeling it will be. They kind of hint around that they know some people weren't "feeling" the last album.

Jim
March 13th 2009



5110 Comments


or the one before

atleast i wasn't =(

Willie
Moderator
March 13th 2009



15909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6

I liked most of the one before. It was a lot easier to get into, which is what I needed from them, I think.

Jim
March 13th 2009



5110 Comments


i think they need to be a little more succinct with their songwriting as a whole. the thing that strikes about the Moore stuff is how the focus seems to be more on songsmanship than overblown, technical epics.

their older material had heaps more character, while the new stuff is really generic at times. still mildly enjoyable, but generic.



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