Thread: My Awake Review
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Old 03-01-2006, 04:42 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Sydney, Australia
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7: The Mirror

After a quick excursion, the metal returns on this track and is perhaps the heaviest piece yet – and for good reason too. The song deals with Portnoy's struggle with alcoholism (a subject matter also apparent in several other Dream Theater tracks).

Beginning with headache-inducing repeating triplets (started by Petrucci and Portnoy soon joins), the track gets off to an horrendous start. The listener is purposefully filled with angst emotions but once again the distortion is too high (making it awkward) and once the bass and Moore come in, the real track-wreck begins. Moore plays on top with an extremely drab melody which seems as if he's trying to elevate the music - it sounds like something a child would play hitting randomly on a xylophone. The music underneath is of course dark, and Moore's melody line is in a major key; this is simply dreadful.

Petrucci continues playing the dark and heavy triplets (Portnoy changes to a straight-up beat) and you almost pray that it's going to stop soon. Unfortunately the triplets persist but now in a faster tempo; perhaps trying to sustain the heavy riff already introduced. Moore switches to playing chords now and this is a major relief: the eerie chords fit almost perfectly, who would have known? Next, Petrucci decides to take the melody (complete with almost non-stop bending) and this just acts as a fancy introduction for LaBrie. When LaBrie enters with more annoying dark vocals, the music underneath just repeats the headache-inducing triplet riff that started this whole mess. The second part of the verse sees Moore trying to add to the atmosphere (with sustaining minor chords) and would have succeeded if only Petrucci decided to change his rhythm.

Then this whole thing is repeated again, so it wouldn't matter if you started listening to the track now. At 2:45, things still haven't changed but Moore is playing slightly different chords. When LaBrie sings “I spent so long trusting in you,” ( with particular emphasis on “you”) it works beautifully adding to the mood (even though there is no advancement in creating the initial mood). Sadly though, Dream Theater have once again decided to add in pointless voice overs to their music. This time it's Meryl Streep and she repeats “What are you doing?” It almost as if Dream Theater have decided to add in clips from their favourite films just for the sake of it.

Now it's time for the chorus (so apparently Meryl Streep acts as a pre-chorus) which does have a catchy aspect to it – but, presumably, this is hardly what Dream Theater wished to achieve. The song is meant to remain dark (Portnoy's struggle continues on) but it feels as if the chorus takes on a completely different theme, thus destroying everything that has previously come. The guitars make use of syncopation here and Moore plays an almost comic-relief descending trill pattern - which, of course, wasn't what was intended.

When the breakdown section starts, more voice overs from two other films are added in. But luckily nothing much is happening musically besides predicable chord changes (which were already implemented earlier). The next verse is more of the same but thankfully the annoying repeating triplets seem to be gone. Things then slightly change in the bridge which begins with the insightful lyrics “Reflections of reality are slowly coming into view.” This takes us to a quick build-up and then LaBrie takes his menacing snarl into overdrive with: “How in the hell could you possibly forgive me? After all the hell I put you through?” LaBrie slides down a semi-tone (perhaps over-used) with the last lyric which takes us into the familiar pre-chorus (complete with Moore's embarrassing melody) before the chorus. When the final chorus comes in, it's still more of the same except for an interesting theme at the end (which makes a reprisal on “Space-Dye Vest”). Its significance is unknown.

After this, the track continues on with an earlier riff only added with guitar-effects (and again with weird ascending notes from Petrucci) and is seemingly slowing down. If Dream Theater are trying to make us become less interested as the track progresses, then they have achieved this quite well. The outro then segues into the next track - The Mirrors' counterpart: “Lie.”

Rating: 2/10

8: Lie

Interestingly, the track begins the exact same way as “The Mirror” (with a little pitch bend from Petrucci), because both songs are linked by the same subject matter. So this track could be seen as a continuation of “The Mirror.” Even though the tracks are linked in various ways, “Lie” is a much better listen than its partner.

The opening riff is less in your face and Petrucci's pitch bends work quite nicely to build tension, as do Moor's haunting sustaining notes. Verse one comes quickly upon us and LaBrie nails it with a fine melody and tone. The music underneath still hasn't changed though, and after the first verse Portnoy takes us to the break section with a quick and basic snare fill. The break is just a repetition of the intro except with Moore playing slightly different notes. This brings us to the identical verse two and a nice Portnoy fill takes us to the chorus.

Things still don't musically change in the chorus except for the the melody line. LaBrie's vocals don't appeal much here because of the drab melody and repetitions. The distortion is not entirely outro of control here.

In the next verse LaBrie now continues singing darker but other than that the song is still yet to advance. As the chorus now repeats and when it ends we're taken into a bridge section where Petrucci fades out, but this doesn't last long before LaBrie comes in. The music slowly becomes heavier and louder (with Petrucci playing effective arpeggios) and then LaBrie sings louder, higher and cleanly.

This takes us into the solo section where a powerful rhythm is accompanied by a rampaging Petrucci solo which seems to ascend forever. Then there's a short pause and Petrucci starts pulling out slides and bends all over the place. He then heads into a quick and beautifully executed shredded melody. The final chorus then hits us but besides a soft Petrucci counter melody in the background, things haven't been improved.

And just when you thought the song was coming to a close, there's a low and quick build-up riff and the unthinkable happens: a reprisal of the annoying headache-inducing triplets from “The Mirror!” And not only that, but also the spacey riff makes a reprisal as well. However, Petrucci advances the simple riff to the next level with a gripping climatic solo that was sadly taken out of the single version (because it became too long). However, towards the end it does feel like Petrucci seems to be just repeating himself over and over. It then all comes to an abrupt end.

The track is indeed an improvement on “The Mirror” but there are still too many flaws and in the end there aren't enough catchy hooks to keep the listener absorbed. The track certainly doesn't earn any repeated listens - except for maybe the first solo.

Both songs are around the same short length (“Voices” is still the only lengthy track thus far) so the listener is probably left wondering what happened to the old styles and sound of Dream Theater by about this time.

Rating: 3.9/10
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