This was my first CREMATORY album and so I have a high affinity for the keyboard-heavy Gothic Metal that they began evolving into with the album preceding this. I know some people prefer the more primitive Death Metal on “Transmigration” and “…Just Dreaming,” but I feel those albums are just less interesting. By “Awake,” CREMATORY’s fifth full-length studio album, very little remains from their older days beyond Felix’s growl.
Katrin’s keyboards carry the lion’s share of activity on the album, whether through solo performances on “Maze” and “Mirror,” establishing an atmosphere through sound effects as on “Temple Of Love,” or a more traditional piano performance as on “The Loss.” They’re not at the dance club friendly beats like they’d explore on “Believe” and “Revolution,” but it’s not a million miles away either. The other musicians don’t add much to the album, but don’t detract from it. They’re there, workmanlike and hitting the notes they need to, but not really rising to prominence.
The album is a bit top heavy. The tracks from “Lord Of Lies” to “For Love” are the most memorable and perhaps the best. In spite of a cheesy chorus, “Temple Of Love” is infectious as all get out and just try to keep from tapping your feet to it—it’s hard. “Lord Of Lies” has the most left over from CREMATORY’s early career, but is still dynamic. “Mirror” also sticks out, but I’m a sucker for CREMATORY’s clean-vocalled keyboard outro pieces. “The Loss” is a slow, moody song, but the monotonous growls really don’t fit, while “Yourself” and “Crematory” don’t do much to differentiate themselves from other CREMATORY songs.
“Awake” isn’t CREMATORY’s strongest album and it won’t convert any detractors, but any fan should pick it up. It’s a good album, marking a clear evolution from the older Death Metal to they’re later, more club-friendly work. If you haven’t heard CREMATORY before, it’s worth a shot. (Online July 8, 2006)