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Dream Theater

Awake

Review by Gary Hill

Looking at Dream Theater's back catalog, I decided to turn my attention to the final album to feature Kevin Moore as their keyboardist. This set is exceptionally strong. Personally, I think the full Moore penned song " Space-Dye Vest" that closes the album is the highlight. It's pretty atypical for the band, though, so you might disagree. It should be noted that I previously reviewed one of these tracks on a compilation album. For the sake of consistency I have reused that track review here.

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Track by Track Review
6:00
Drums kick this off in style. The cut works out from there to a smoking hot hard rocker that has some great prog changes built into it. The bass work after the "six o'clock on a Christmas morning" sample is so cool. The vocals come in driving this thing forward with a lot of style and power. This is quite a dynamic and powerful ride, packed full of power, drama and changes.
Caught in a Web
This number drives in hard rocking and fierce. There is some furious, almost thrashy, stuff built into this thing. The cut works through these amazing twists and turns showing just how much talent and skill the group have. The keyboards lend more of a prog angle, too. The jam that ensues as it approaches the four-minute mark is all class.
Innocence Faded
While this still has a lot of power and edge, it has a bit more of a melodic mainstream vibe. It drops way down for the vocal section, not quite balladic, but very mellow.
A Mind Beside Itself
        
I. Erotomania

Keyboards bring this into being. The band jump in and drive it forward. There is a bit of an ELP edge to this in some ways. It's a powerhouse hard-edged prog rocker that really works well. The guitar put in some cool melodic soloing. The whole piece works so well. There is a killer neo-classical movement later in the track, too.

II. Voices
Melodic guitar sounds bring this into being. It has a mellow kind of prog sound at first. Then powerhouse rocking guitar comes in to guide it onward. The cut has a metallic edge as it drives forward. The cut builds outward gradually until it fires out into a screaming hot jam for the chorus. There is a drop back to mellower stuff before it fires back out to more rocking zones from there.
III. The Silent Man
This has always been a favorite of mine. It has a dramatic balladic approach. The vocal performance is emotional and strong. It’s over a minute in before they bring it up at all beyond the opening acoustic ballad motif. Even then, it’s through just an intensification of the main theme and musical concept. This grows later in a cool instrumental journey but still it doesn’t rise far beyond the level of a pretty balladic arrangement.
The Mirror
Rocking out like crazy, this is a real powerhouse number. There is some decidedly classical stuff built into it at times. It also has some of the most old-school prog stuff of the whole set. This is a particularly potent piece with all kinds of twists and turns. Different sections lean in different directions.
Lie
This one leans more on the metallic side. It's a powerhouse rocker that works so well. Even though it leans on the crunch side, it still has plenty of prog in the mix.
Lifting Shadows Off a Dream
Coming in mellower, this has really dramatic vibe early. The chorus on this cut is powerful and so cool. The cut is a particularly effective example of the kind of metal edged prog rock that Dream Theater is so well-known for. There are plenty of mellower, more purely prog sections, too.
Scarred
I love the balance between mellower, more purely proggy stuff, and harder rocking, metallic textures on this cut. The vocal performance is particularly powerful, too. This is such a strong cut. In fact, I'd consider it one of my favorites from the album. They pull off the contrast between the softer and harder sections so well. There is some killer prog jamming later in the piece, too.
Space-Dye Vest
In a lot of ways this is a very different piece for Dream Theater. Yet, it's always been one of my favorites from them, too. In fact, it might be my single favorite DT song. Piano starts the piece in a rather sad and powerful melody. You really need to just let that melody wash over you to appreciate it. The cut begins a building process from there in a bit of a psychedelic meets space rock way. The vocals join as the piece is driving upward. With little dark sound clips, this cut is so evocative and powerful. It grows so slowly, remaining quite mellow throughout. This might not have the rapid fire shifts and changes you expect from Dream Theater, but it makes up for it in sheer passion and emotional fire. They do eventually rock it up a bit, but it's just an extension of the main themes. This piece is worth the price of admission here all by itself. While it builds way up, it crescendos and drops back down to just a piano melody to take it to its closing.
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