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An album by Dream Theater

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It's good....very good....

  • Dec 11, 2000
Dream Theater's follow-up their breakthrough album "Images and Words" characterizes a markedly different change in style for the band. Just by looking at the song names, with those enigmatic and dismal titles, you can tell that Awake is a more darker, more serious record than the relatively positive and hopeful feeling I&W. Some would say that this is the inferior album, but I think that the somber arrangements yield more emotional intensity, with more profound and honest performances by all the band's musicians.

Vocalist James LaBrie's voice is tempered by a vicious element that lends a deep sense of anger to many of the songs, but at other times he can be wonderfully delicate and soulful. He retains all of his best qualities from I&W, but he expands his vocal vocabulary by better utilizing his ample range. John Petrucci's guitars are dazzlingly technical, but what makes him so special is that he can isolate and preserve the emotion in the music. For example, the dissonant notes in the solo of "Voices" perfectly encapsulate the feeling of confusion expressed in the lyrics. In a lot of cases, solos present in songs because most people think they have to be. In a Dream Theater record, the solos serve as emotional peaks for the songs. The keyboards imbue the songs with an important sense of atmosphere. Just listen to the haunting "Space-Dye Vest," a beautifully somber song anchored by a piano riff that, while quite simple, speaks to you in more ways than other songs in their entirety.

Some people care little about lyrics, but let me point out that Dream Theater writes great songs; they are loaded with metaphorical references and vivid imagery supporting a deep emotionally based theme. Sometimes a metal band can have brains.

To conclude simply, Awake is an incredible album by progressive metal's greatest band.

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Clayton Reeder ()
Ranked #434
Rogue capitalist in search of all that is interesting, weird, or beautiful.      Collected here are my hundreds of reviews from Amazon.com, covering mostly music that is offensive … more
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Some rock & roll purists consider the term "progressive rock" an oxymoron. After all, rock & roll is supposed to be about feeling, not thinking. Prog rock bands miss the point by taking the soul out of a musical form that's purposely crass and anti-intellectual. All the precise, long-winded arrangements, keyboard flourishes, wailing vocals, and overorchestration of groups like Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and, to a degree, Rush suck the soul out of something that should be less head and more body. Dream Theater, though they possess many of the same characteristics as these bands, still manage to maintain a human element in their music.Awakeis at times self-indulgent and pompous, but songs like "Lie," a passionate crusher that finds guitarist John Petrucci launching riff after thunderous riff in a cacophonous volley of crunch, ring true with real passion and base emotion. It's the depth and tonality his guitar brings to the music that keeps Dream Theater from falling into the Styx-isms they often veer dangerously close to. A very solid record for those who don't mind thinking while rocking.--Adem Tepedelen
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Label: Atlantic, Wea
Artist: Dream Theater
Release Date: October 4, 1994

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