DREAM THEATER — Awake (review)

DREAM THEATER — Awake album cover Album · 1994 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
2.5/5 ·
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.
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