The 95 DREAM THEATER-work "Awake" is an album of the extremes. The band sounds more metallic than ever. On the other side we also get some very calm songs, which are less complex, but catchier.
For this calmer side we have the beautiful ballad "The Silent Man", the great "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream" or "Innocence Faded". Listening to these songs you could come to the conclusion that the band tried to open for a wider audience. The emphasis lies on nice melodies. But in crass contrast we have the heaviest DREAM THEATER-song to date, "The Mirror". Here fat riffs are dominating and even the vocals are almost aggressive. Also more than six minutes long is "Lie" and "Caught In The Web", both going into the same direction. On none of their previous two albums the band had sounded as heavy as on "Awake". One of the main reasons for this also is the sound. It's very compact, but never rough. Comparing to "Images And Words" it might sound a little cooled, but I still think that it fits the music.
Apart from these extremes the band, of course, has some brilliant Prog-monsters to offer us. Just listen to the eleven-minute "Scarred", this time the only song that cracks the ten-minute-barrier. The song is filled to the brim with tempo-changes and insane musicianship. Almost ten minutes long is the hammer-track "Voices". The song convinces through its beautiful melody and its ever-changing atmosphere. Here calm, there heavy, the song takes you on a journey through a dream-world. Great, for sure one of the highlights of the album! With "Erotomania" we also get a great instrumental, for me the best that I've heard until then. Here the musicians really can show off, especially drum-octopus Mike Portnoy rules supreme, I really cannot even begin to fathom, where that guy gets his incredible feeling for rhythms from! The end of the album is made up by a rather unusual song, "Space-Dye Vest" is calm, spacy (!) and equally stirring. A strange, but just as gripping number. The perfect counterpart to the hectic opener "6:00".
The band, in my opinion, has delivered a superb album. "Awake" doesn't fully reach "Images And Words" both musically and song-wise, but still there are no fillers on this album. I think that the DREAM THEATER-guys really wanted to try to open to a wider audience with "Awake". Which they maybe even succeeded in. The album has something to offer to both the Metalhead and the normal Rock-fan. Just a more accessible mixture and pure variety. The only point of possible slight criticism would be the vocals of Mr. LaBrie. Even though the guy isn't bad, he sometimes sounds a little thin. OK, almost all of us would be more than happy, if he could sing like he does. On the later albums he's turned better, so who cares? "Awake" was and still is yet another milestone of the DREAM THEATER-history and should be heard!!!
Check-out-tips: "Caught In A Web", "Voices", "The Mirror"...