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DREAM THEATER - Awake cover
4.07 | 169 ratings | 24 reviews
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Album · 1994


1. 6:00 (5:31)
2. Caught in a Web (5:28)
3. Innocence Faded (5:42)
4. A Mind Beside Itself: I. Erotomania (6:44)
5. A Mind Beside Itself: II. Voices (9:53)
6. A Mind Beside Itself: III. The Silent Man (3:47)
7. The Mirror (6:45)
8. Lie (6:33)
9. Lifting Shadows Off a Dream (6:05)
10. Scarred (10:59)
11. Space-Dye Vest (7:29)

Total Time: 75:00


- James LaBrie / Vocals
- John Petrucci / Guitars
- Kevin Moore / Keyboards
- John Myung / Bass
- Mike Portnoy / Drums

About this release

Label: Atlantic
Release date: October 4th, 1994

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A bit lighter and bouncier than the last effort, Dream Theater’s 3rd album saw increased domination by keys. The softer parts are more plentiful and atmospherics are held in quite importance here. There’s still plenty of heavy stuff and it remains primarily a Metal album, but a few songs land strictly in Prog Rock territory, with even hints of Neo-Prog and Acoustic Rock in there.

The album is a little simpler, both in structure and technicality. Even the heavier parts are as smooth as butter, layered with warm keys and backed by a pristine production job. James LaBrie’s vocals have developed further, and quite a few moments here I was truly impressed with his range and delivery. I will say, I generally prefer Images and Words to this, but James’ vocals here blow his last performance away.

Honestly surprised this is held in such high regards since the band took a simpler, more commercial direction here. But thankfully they retained their excellent songwriting ability and taste for infectious melodies. There aren’t any weak songs here and really nothing can even be considered filler thanks to each song having a unique sound and stand out moments.

Also, Space-Dye Vest is… stunning. Impeccable use of samples, brilliant melody, fantastic lyrics… simply amazing.
Every artist has at least one album, possibly several, that the majority of their fans will proclaim blasphemy of other fans if they refuse to be sheep and say they don't like it. For US progressive metal band Dream Theater they have three albums this could be said of. They are Images and Words (1992), Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory (1999) and the subject of this review, Awake (1994). The other two are pretty damn fine progressive metal records that are rightly held up as classic examples of their genre. Then there's Awake.

I don't like Awake.

There, I said it, may the God of Prog strike me down for being a heretic.

(The author of this review takes a moment to look around, waiting for a lightning bolt to smite him. Nothing happens, so he continues writing).

It's true, I do not like Awake. I do not hate Awake either, but there's a big difference between not hating something and actually liking it. Awake exists in a void between these two extremes, a void that we could know by various names like 'the middle of the road' or as the kids of today might say; 'meh'. It is an album that does have a few highlights like Lie and the acoustic The Silent Man is also pretty nice, but most of it is fairly average fare for Dream Theater, bland and worse than bland, also pretty soulless. Like the sound of a band who doesn't know quite how they should follow up Images and Words and just went through the motions for a follow-up.

I have owned Awake for a long time now. I don't recall exactly where or when I bought it but I reckon it was in either 2007 or 2008. Over a decade certainly. It was certainly after I'd bought at least Images and Words, Metropolis and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (2002) – the latter of which was my first Dream Theater album. I loved all of those releases. Then Awake inevitably came onto my radar. I was aware of it's reputation. I was excited to get a hold of a copy. And then I listened to it.

And it just wasn't very good.

I spent the next couple of years intermittently returning to Awake and hoping that it would click. It never did. And prior to this review I reached a point where I did not feel inclined to play Awake ever again. It has in fact been over ten years since I last played the album in full. This is more than Falling into Infinity (1997), it's follow-up, which I can honestly say I don't think I have ever listened to more than once (though I do intend to revisit that album soon). Today I finally got up the courage to listen to Awake again. And nothing has changed. It's still not very good, has only a few highlight moments that still pale next to those from other Dream Theater albums and it still comes across as soulless pap. It's also still not bad, also still not an album I actively dislike or hate (unlike their The Astonishing (2016)). Awake just...is.

The kindest thing I've ever really felt I could say about it is, as stated, that it's not an actively bad album. But in a twist of fate that's perhaps also the worst thing I can say about it as well. We can have a good laugh at a bad album then write it off and forget about it. Awake instead falls into the worse category of (almost) total mediocrity. At least with an out and out bad album you can pinpoint exactly what's wrong with it. But you'll still remember it, if for the wrong reasons. They say bad publicity is better than no publicity. For me that can also be applied to music: a bad album is still better than a forgettable album. Awake for me is a very forgettable album, yet technically has nothing wrong with it on paper.

I do not think that I will ever be able to understand why Awake remains so highly regarded among Dream Theater's work. I know from when I was first discovering the band that there is a faction of fans out there who remained really hung up on the Kevin Moore era of Dream Theater, so maybe that's why. Who knows? I certainly don't care at this point. For me there is absolutely no way that Awake should be mentioned in the same breath as Images and Words and Metropolis. Except of course, to distance it from them.
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.
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.
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
I must admit it's been several years since i've listened to these DREAM THEATER albums and it's been interesting to say the least. I used to rate this significantly higher than "Images And Words" but now i feel they are pretty much even with both being low 4 star records. Man i'd love this band if they were darker and nastier and stayed far away from that sappy, schmaltsy style that they keep getting close too. Well maybe "Falling Into Infinity" is where they get too close to that style. Anyway "Awake" like it's predessesor has it's great moments along with those average ones making it a mixed bag for me. Certainly the great ones out-weigh the average ones or these wouldn't be getting 4 stars. This would be Kevin Moore's final album with the band and he goes out with his head held high. I much prefer his style to Rudess the way he can create atmosphere over showing off his skills. Just my tastes of course. Man i wish they had of dropped both "Voices" and "The Silent Man" as i don't like either plus the album would have clocked in at about 60 minutes instead of the overlong 75 minutes. The rest of the album is excellent. I think "Scarred" is my favourite although Moore's "Space-Dye Vest" is right there. I will always be impressed with the skills these guys have and they are on display in spades on this album.
Awake is, to me, the “prime” of Dream Theater’s career; perhaps not as musicians, but as songwriters. The band’s third studio album hits the “sweet spot” of a unique sound fallen far enough from the trees of influence, with plenty of creative juices still flowing. While there may not be an overarching concept or some of the technical wizardry that sent their later works into the metal history books, I much prefer a collection of well-written songs that retain a progressive core and melodic structure. This, Awake features in spades.

This is a landmark release for several reasons. Being the follow-up to Dream Theater’s breakout album Images and Words, Awake was written in a bit of a pressure situation, which resulted in keyboardist Kevin Moore’s departure from the band during the recording. Who the best Dream Theater keyboardist is will probably be a debate forever; while Jordan Rudess has flashiness (and now longevity) on his side, Moore’s case is made by tasteful, atmospheric playing an excellent compositional skills (as evidenced by Awake’s beautifully melancholic closer, “Space-Dye Vest”). Indeed, this album is at the bottom of the Dream Theater barrel as far as the complexity of the keyboard lines go (although they’re still very impressive, don’t get me wrong), but again, they fit wonderfully within the context of the music; on no Dream Theater album will you hear melodies as vivid as the ones fluttering through “Scarred,” “Caught in a Web,” and the stirring instrumental “Erotomania”.

Awake also boasts what is far and away the best vocal performance in James LaBrie’s career. It was recorded right before the infamous food poisoning incident (which was arguably the worst thing to ever happen to the band, as LaBrie’s voice has never been the same since), and the difference between the vocals here and, say, Train of Thought are startling; LaBrie’s high register is both powerful and emotive (think “shrieking” rather than “wailing”), actually driving the songs instead of just hanging there. There’s also a certain warmth in the vocals that really embellish the album’s softer moments; a complete effort in every sense of the word.

Song-wise, there are zero weak links here, which might be surprising at first considering how little fanfare Awake tends to get among prog fans. You have “Lie” and “The Mirror,” which are easily two of the heaviest Dream Theater tracks (from a time period in which they weren’t forcing such things), the tremendous opener “6:00,” which features an incredible chorus courtesy of LaBrie, and the fan favorite “Innocence Faded”. Then there are the two greatest Dream Theater ballads in “The Silent Man” and “Lifting Shadows off a Dream;” the former a slow, quiet number with an acoustic guitar lick that tickles the senses, and the latter an excellent showing of the build-and-climax formula that Dream Theater uses so sparsely. Both are equally uplifting and beautiful, and the fact that they stand out in a rather heavy progressive metal album just proves how meticulously crafted the songs here are.

Instrumentally, this is still undoubtedly the Dream Theater that we all love (or hate). It’s technically proficient, tight, virtuosic…whatever you want to call it. When compared to the crowd, though, Awake stands out in almost every category: production, songwriting, texture, and so on…it’s all there. The complete package, and a timeless progressive metal classic that I return to again and again.
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.

In one sense, I'm not sure they succeeded. I was initially impressed by Awake, then I cooled off on it, but I've found myself warming to it again. It's certainly less immediately hooky and gripping than Images and Words, starting off as it does with songs which go for a somewhat darker and more aggressive tone than that album (perhaps reacting to the shifts in metal and rock music in the early 1990s). It's certainly the case that in terms of the more popular-leaning numbers, the album didn't yield another Pull Me Under, though I think by this point we all realise that another Pull Me Under isn't going to happen (and the band themselves have made their peace with that).

However, once you hit Erotomania - the first part of the A Mind Beside Itself suite - things perk up as far as I am concerned, with the rest of the album delving into impressively proggy territory whilst purging some of the cheese from the band's sound.

I've previously said I found James LaBrie's vocals on this album a bit too polished, without much emotion; it is possible I was reacting here to some of the angst on the first three numbers, which felt slightly affected. However, I've warmed to that now - he might not persuade me that he himself is feeling these emotions, but I find myself seeing him as a narrator telling me a story through song, which perhaps helps with the sense of distance.

Technically, the performances on here are highly accomplished, but it took me a while to really get an ear for this one, to see how everything fitted together and look past the impression of flashy prog showboating I initially had. It took me a while to wake up to Awake, but I don't regret doing so, even though I don't think it'll knock Images and Words off its perch for me.
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.

The Angry Scotsman
My third favorite DT album

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. However, it is a great work.

Four Stars

Members reviews

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 four and a half stars here with just four over at progarchives. 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).
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.
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.
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. Perhaps this is why it is less popular. But it is no doubt musically superior to the previous album. 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".

Favourite tracks: 'The Mirror' and 'Scarred'

This is art!

5.0 stars

Innocence faded rapidly

Third studio album and already running out of steam! In my opinion, Dream Theater never again came even remotely close to making such a brilliant album as Images And Words and Awake already sounds much less interesting to these ears. Having that said, there are indeed some great songs on this album too. For some reason I have never been able to enjoy the album opener 6:00, however. Maybe it is the spoken word samples that annoy me. My favourites here being Caught In A Web and Innocence Faded, particularly the former. The organ-heavy instrumental Erotomania is also very good with its Yngwie Malmsteen-like Neo-Classical guitar extravaganza towards the end, but I can’t help feel that the track is a bit too long for its own good and the main riff is not strong enough to be repeated as many times as it is. This leads straight into Voices, which even if a good song feels distinctively subpar in comparison with the Images And Words album, and the same goes for Awake as a whole. The nice acoustic ballad The Silent Man offers a chance to catch your breath, but it is a totally unremarkable and ordinary song. These three songs (Erotomania, Voices and The Silent Man) supposedly make up a suite titled A Mind Beside Itself, but the three parts sound very much like wholly independent songs to me.

The Mirror picks things up again with a Metallica-like riff and continues with Lie that shares some common themes, but again I feel like I’m hearing more of the same. The riffs and melodies fail to grip me and at this point I’m losing interest rapidly. Lifting Shadows Off A Dream sounds very much like a U2 song apart from the middle section. Scarred is the album’s longest track. It has some decent parts, but overall I find it overlong and a bit dull. Space-Dye Vest, which is based on a rather simplistic piano line, concludes the album.

A year later saw the release of the A Change Of Seasons EP, and it has always been my firm opinion that Awake could have been an extremely much better album had they replaced at least half of its songs with the great 20 minute plus Change Of Seasons track! That would have made a good album, but even then far behind Images And Words.

As it stands however, Awake is simply not among Dream Theater’s better albums and it is a very disappointing follow-up to Images And Words.
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.
Though by no means a Dream Theater fan, I am also a very curious person - so,some four years ago, I bought "Awake" on the strength of the numerous rave reviews I had read on a number of prog and metal sites. Since then, I've been trying to get into it, unfortunately to no avail. However, I will try to make this review as fair and objective as possible, since 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 attract 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 well-known 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 is going to deny this simple fact: but then, why do their records give 'outsiders' (i.e. skeptics 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 this is quite OK with me. 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 is just not my cup of tea.

After digesting all of Dream Theater's full-length releases, I have found that Awake is the album that ends up in my stereo more often than any of the others, even despite the fact that I consciously consider their newest album to be their best, I end up listening to this one more.

This is the heaviest Dream Theater album, overall. It doesn't have all the mood-swings that FII has, but it is quite brooding in places. The musical focus displayed on this album wouldn't be repeated until their 1999 offering, SFAM. There are four "sections" to this album: the first 3 tracks, then the tracks 4-6 which are "A Mind Beside Itself," then 7 and 8, and then the final three tracks. You will notice similar lyrical moods and musical ideas unifying each of the four sections. Mike Portnoy stated in an interview during the 1994 European tour that Awake is a "concept album of sorts."

They are distancing themselves from their 80s'-reminiscent style with Awake. Seven-string guitars are first used here (The Mirror and Lie) to great effect. Kevin Moore shines on this album; his last with the band. The only weakness this album has is the wildly overused movie samples which appear in many of the songs and often multiple times in one song. The production is top notch; though you will have to concentrate to hear the bass in some places. This is, all in all, probably the quintessential Dream Theater release - own this one if nothing else.

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