on 1 September 2002
In my opinion Awake is the strongest Dream Theater album. It is noticably heavier than Images and Words, although the songs contain the same great melodies, awesome playing and polished production present on the previous album. The lyrics are much darker and deeper than on any of the bands other albums and the use of samples adds great atmosphere to the recordings. Despite the 75 minute running time there is not a single weak tack on the album. Fans of progressive metal, especially those with a taste for heavy, yet melodic guitar music should check this out.
This is a rather belated review given how long ago this fine album was released. However, I was compelled to write following some of the, frankly, odd and surprising opinions expressed by my fellow reviewers.
As the follow-up studio release to the band's impressive debut, this is unquestionably a 5 star album. However, for those of you who do not own all DT's albums, I guess you might have been taken aback by the overall heavyness. Compared to Images and Words, Awake is far heavier, less keyboard driven with a fantastically heavy guitar tone. La Brie's vocal performance is also far more visceral and, thankfully, dare I say it, a little less cheesy than he can be at times.
The musicianship is simply amazing. John Petrucci on guitar really shines on this record, as does Mr Portnoy on drums. I have to say the guitar solo on Voices remains one of my favourite Petrucci solos. Yes, his playing is incredibly technical, but his note choice is quite exquisite at times.
As indicated in the title of this review, as far as I'm concerned this makes it into the top 3 in terms of DT's albums. It is very hard to criticise any aspect of this offering. The playing, vocals and production are impeccable. Stand out tracks for me are 6 o'clock, Voices, Erotomania, Lifting Shadows..& Caught In a Web.
If you appreciate quality songwriting, arrangements and musicianship, you cannot help but admire this album if you are in any way into rock, whatever your particular slant. Highly recommended.
on 9 October 2015
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.
on 22 January 2015
Before 'Kevin Moore' jumped ship for "Fates Warning", he was a former and founding member of Dream Theater. This was his final album with the band, and for me (and perhaps more importantly), closes the first of several eras of the band. Coming after the majestic "Images and Words" two full years later; "Awake" embarks on a completely different trajectory, entirely from that album. Starting with the thrilling '6:00'; (still a long-term favourite of mine!). It is abundantly clear that a heavier, dark and inclusive sound is present to pack a greater punch; as well as a much more visceral and darker theme; (Caught In A Web, The Mirror, Lie).
This is however not the only take present on "Awake"; as, as expected, there's a few of those lengthy epics too, such as 'Voices, Scarred, (and arguably Space Dye Vest') as well. These cuts rank as truly timeless DT enterprises, and still remain amongst their best songs. Other key numbers might include the classic instrumental of 'Erotomania', the insanely likeable 'Lifting Shadows Of A Dream', and of course, the ok DT-lite of 'The Silent Man'. *Note that there are also rare, edit and bonus tracks, which can be found on "The Silent Man" EP (Eve - Exclusive track); and another "Lie" EP, with (To Live Forever - Exclusive track). May also be worth hunting down for the completists.
The weakest track is likely to be 'Innocence Faded', and that is only becouse of LaBrie's grating and persistent wailing marring the entire songs discourse. That said, the plus's greatly outweigh the drawbacks quite considerably. From a technical point of view, I loved the production and technical delivery in all aspects; especially 'Kevin Moore's' outstanding keyboard performance; though his avid departure from the band continues to remain a missing key-signatory of DT's evolution in this humble reviewers opinion. But anyway, all in all this is quite a remarkable album in any regard, and in all due appreciation, it is a well deserving CD of any classic status it attracts.
*Despite DT's broadly and overall:- less interesting atmospherics, theatrics and songwriting styles today. "Awake" remains a progressive metal gem, and is a very worthy album to seek out, when looking to discover the darker shades of colour that sometimes inhabit this genre...,
I was a bit stunned when I first heard Awake. Having become a huge fan of DT following "Images...", I struggled a bit to cope with this next release.
HEAVY is the word. Apparently John Petrucci decided to do almost the whole thing on a 7 string guitar, and made major use of the low B string.
There are some slower and lighter moments, and the instrumental prowess is still outstanding, but overall it's more in the "thrash" side of metal. Nevertheless, the vocals do maintain a melodic element to the proceedings, and the songs are still very good.
Worth getting, but get Images first.
on 12 February 2016
Awake will always be one of my top 10 favourite albums because every song is a DT classic. The collection of songs that are featured on the album range from their most heavy ("The Mirror" and "Lie"), to their most mellow ("The Silent Man" and "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream") and to their most chilling ("Space-Dye Vest").
This album demonstrates how original and versatile Dream Theater were back in the 90's and even with the crazy amounts of virtuosity, the album remains musical throughout and doesn't become tedious or self-indulgent. The chemistry that kept DT grounded has slowly declined since Kevin Moore's departure and now that Mike Portnoy has left the band, their musical direction has been completely lost. This is unfortunate because every album since MP left has been disappointing and no where near the quality of Awake, Images And Words, Scenes From A Memory or Octavarium.
on 18 March 2012
The Awake album carries a similar vibe that previous album "Images and Words" possesses. While this is the case, I always find myself going back to that album more that this. The first obvious change is that this album is a lot heavier and more agressive than it's predecessor (Just listen to songs such as "The Mirror" and "Lie")
Although "Images and Words" had it's odd meters lengthy structures in songs such as "Metropolis - Part 1", Awake seems to step it up with a three part suite called "A Mind Beside Itself" containing "Erotomania", "Voices" and "The Silent Man". These songs are difficult to get into initially, but when you do, they are magical.
This album is a good addition to any Dream Theater Collection, but if you don't already own them, get "Images and Words" and "A Change of Seasons" before indulging in this album.
on 10 December 2007
As you probably already know if you're reading this, Dream Theater are perhaps the biggest and most influential progressive metal band on the planet. I'll say right away that this is a great album, one of the band's best (which is really saying something). It is slightly heavier and darker than it's preceeding album Images and Words (Amazing album). However, it's still the same old Dream Theater sound, merging 70s progressive rock with heavy metal, containing lots of complex song structures and incredible musicianship. If you're new to the band, this is as good a starting point as any, especially for a metal fan.
Dream Theater are amazingly skillful musicians. John Petrucci, one of the most impressive shredders of the 90s, is at his best here. Just listen to his soaring, mind-blowing solo on Voices and you'll see what I mean. Mike Portnoy drives the songs with his excellent, complex drumming. One cool thing about his drums is that he removed the triggers for his drums on this album, which allows his to show more dynamics on his instrument. Kevin Moore's keyboards are woven throughout the songs, adding a great deal of atmosphere and often trading solos with John Petrucci. Mike Myung's complex basslines underly each track, even though he is often not very audible. Finally, there's singer James LaBrie. His powerful voice has a truly incredible range. On this album, his vocals are sometimes quite snarly, to fit with the heavier music. His powerful delivery makes the album's dark lyrics even more convincing.
This album is incredibly varied. There's the heavy, stomping metal of Caught in a Web, Lie and the especially heavy The Mirror. There's gentler songs including Lifting Shadows Off a Dream, Innocence Faded (this song has an amazing ending) and even a full acoustic ballad, The Silent Man. There's a great instrumental entitled Erotomania which features incredible band interplay and highly unusual time signatures. However, the album's centerpiece tracks are the two epics, Voices and Scarred. Voices is a brilliantly structured, emotional epic with one of the most powerful choruses I've heard. Scarred, builds from its bluesy beginning to an intricate epic with heavy riffs, atmospheric keyboards and amazing trade-off solos between Petrucci and Moore. This was Kevin Moore's last album with the band, and he left his greatest composition on this album, Space Dye Vest. Its a very beautiful, personal piano-driven epic that sounds unlike anything else ever recorded bny the band. It has to be heard.
Overall, this album is a very powerful album of great prog metal. It has everyhing: amazing playing, excellent and varied songs, complex song structures, great vocals and lyrics far better than most metal bands. So, where does it stand? I can never decide which DT album is best. I think its either this or Images and words. Although no song quite matches Pull Me Under or Learning To Live from Images, several come very close. Besides, this is actually an even more consistent album, every song is as important to the album as the next and none are bad or even average. If you're a fan of prog, metal or both, this album is essential. It's truly magnificent.
on 28 June 2014
Compared to most of their other albums this employs far heavier guitar sound and imo is all the better for it. Yes they are all top notch musicians but too often on other albums it becomes clever but not partc entertaining "twiddling" on for an eternity to no partic end . This album while retaining the exemplary musicianship off their prog rock influences has a harder edge partly through portnoys playing but mostly Petruccis marvellous guitar playing
on 3 March 2001
This album was recommended to me by a friend, and I trusted him, though I'd never heard DT before. Thank God I did. This is a truly awe-inspiring album, so powerful and dramatic, yet you can truly appreciate the quality of each musician shining through. Each song will amaze with its power, and then when you get to the final song, Sapce Dye Vest, it will simply blow you away. So different from the rest of the album, yet still so powerful and beautiful and moving, it's amazing.