Thread: My Awake Review
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Old 03-01-2006, 03:41 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Sydney, Australia
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3: Innocence Faded

This is classic Dream Theater at near their best. This track is the untouched highlight of the album and is a joyous timeless listen.

The intro of this track is without a doubt one of the best intros in the entire rock genre. A quick snare fill takes us into the onslaught of Petrucci's real mastership with the guitar as he blasts out enthralling major chords, both musically and emotionally. This, and the way Petrucci bends and slides the notes just in this intro already surpasses the first nine minutes of the record. No matter how many times you've heard this intro it's almost guaranteed to get your heart racing each time.

Shorty after, the music breaks down smoothly with the guitar and keyboard fading out slowly which leaves the drums and bass on their own. This is a beautiful way to introduce the first verse where LaBrie is thankfully back to singing his best. Portnoy interchanges between the on and off beat which is accompanied by Petrucci playing chords on a different beat and Moore playing a high root note slightly after that. It's a remarkably effective technique which is also accompanied by beautiful lyrics and a soothing melody. The notes LaBrie sings during “The rest remain misled” is simply breathtaking and a perfect way to enter the bridge.

The bridge is something that can't even be described with mere words. The strings are amazing, the melody is perfect and the cowbell is a nice touch. Petrucci's broken descending/ascending minor chords fill the gap left by the bass (as do the soft strings) wonderfully. This takes us to the pre-chorus and unlike “Caught in a Web,” it's simple, but the lead up to the chorus isn't painstakingly out of place. The top line is played by a more focused melody from Moore.

The chorus fits in almost magically and contains in it tasteful vocal harmonies singing “Aaah,” which is a common musical technique used by Dream Theater, but it's always effective in creating the right atmosphere. Verse two enters immediately and is much like the first except that LaBrie seems to transcend even his own talents when he sings the remarkably high notes in the lyrics: “Condescending...Not intending to end.” As a build-up to this climax the music underneath gradually gets heavier which also adds to the beauty of the climax. LaBrie holds the “End” note powerfully for a full bar and even slides down a semi-tone. The return of the bridge undergoes a huge change in the use of changing keys. This is when the same pre-chorus also returns followed by the chorus.

The song then makes it structure a tad more complex than the previous two tracks by adding in changed verses. The underlying notes and chords are more complex than what may first appear. And it ends with a beautiful sustaining high note with the lyric: “Wheel.” This is yet another fine way to lead into the chorus (which is also accompanied by a lovely descending pattern played by Moore). The chorus this time ends with augmented notes on “Find you.” LaBrie then continues to bellow away more sustaining high notes using his mastership with melisma and his breathing techniques. A high note from Petrucci takes us into the solo section/outro of the track (after a return of the intro) which is the probably the most rewarding listen so far. It starts off with Huey Lewis & the News-esque chords and progresses from there. Petrucci's solo is one of bliss because not only is it extremely complex but it's hard not to associate warmth with it. It's complete with harmonies and wonderful accompaniment from Moore. And just when you thought it was over, Petrucci goes into overdrive until finally the song comes to an abrupt halt almost as if they're saying “You can't possibly take anymore of this beauty, so we'll stop now.”

Rating: 8.3/10

4: Erotomania

This ambient instrumental piece is the first part of the three-part epic “A Mind Beside Itself.“ For those of you who don't know, erotomania literally means: excessive sexual desire. And by the end of this track, you're left wondering why.

Moore gets us started with his goofy 80's sounding keyboard patch playing in 5/4 and soon after we're joined by a walking bass line and a semi-inspired arpeggio pattern from Petrucci in unison. The 4/4 changes work nice as it increases the interest maintained; Portnoy does a good job here. Things stay the same for a while but changes to a higher register. To signify the end of the section, Petrucci gives us a little harmonisation. This leads into a slower (longer notes) descending pattern still maintaining the 5/4 (with one bar of 4/4) rhythm. Moore plays in a higher register and seems to be inverting broken chords which works effectively. This is followed by a repetition but this time played softer (use of dynamics) and there's a change in roles. But this is short lived and soon we're back into the main groove which began the track. The difference this time though, is that Petrucci plays a mini solo on top, shredding away towards the end which works well as a build-up to what's to come shorty.

The next riff brings to mind early Rush or perhaps Queensrÿche and suits the mood tremendously. Moore lightens things up towards the end by adding in major notes. The link to the next section is nothing short of amazing: chords are merely ascending but Portnoy slows down his riff and he works beautifully in tandem with Petrucci by trading rhythms, ending with two lovely triplets. The section repeats briefly followed by a break-down section where Petrucci shines playing inspiring chord progressions. Towards the end, things slow down which brilliantly sets the stage for the next section. There's a major (no pun intended) change in tonality (from dark to pleasant) which is contributed mostly by Moore's chordal melody. After a repetition, Petrucci takes over (although things still stay the same underneath) with a killer melody line, finishing magnificently with classic shredding. He holds the last note and it fades out into the next section. The mood stays the same here and acts as a pre-build-up-build-up to what turns out to be a legendary climax by anyone's standards.

At 4:23 there's a return of the descending pattern although this time Petrucci adds in a descending guitar-effect. This is where things get out of control but there's still a stabilising aspect evident. Petrucci utilises faster and faster note lengths. More use of dynamics are implemented with Petrucci playing on his own briefly before being accompanied by the rest of the band in short bursts, displaying energy. Things then slow down bringing us to the legendary climax but not before a nice call and response moment with Myung and Petrucci. Without a doubt, the climax is one of Petrucci's finest moment as it displays the epitome of musical proficiency mixed with pure emotion. Not many guitar solos have come close to this magical moment.

After another short break-down the first theme is reintroduced and eventually slows down and becomes thinner which takes us to the end of the track – complete with chimes and all.

Rating: 7.9/10
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