Thread: My Awake Review
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Old 03-01-2006, 03:43 AM   #6 (permalink)
Don
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Location: Sydney, Australia
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10: Scarred

For the most part, Scarred is yet another huge disappointment. With it being the second and last epic on the album (it's the longest track, clocking in at 11 minutes), the initial anticipation is huge, but sadly it doesn't deliver.

Beginning with help from a ride cymbal, Portnoy plays solo for two bars creating the mid-to-slow tempo. Petrucci and Myung then join Portnoy with Petrucci playing one strum of four ordinary chords at the start of every bar, and Myung fills the gaps playing a few repeated notes. This sets the mood as being a peaceful one and soon Petrucci adds another layer of sound by playing spacey high pitched bends.

Oddly, Petrucci gets straight into a solo which seems to be just a fancy introduction for the first verse. Things didn't seem to be doing anything at all, so adding a little something is necessary here, but a solo at the very beginning of a peaceful introduction is definitely and utterly too much.

When LaBrie comes in he immediately delivers a fantastic performance and a lovely melody line. The lyrics are a little too artsy though, and the repetition of the lyric “To” isn't an effective technique. Throughout the first verse, Myung remains playing the same riff over and over and Portnoy isn't taking anything away from - what appears to be an attempt to create an emotional moment - by not playing anything fancy here. Petrucci has changed though, but he's just playing octaves acting as 'something-to-just-add-in' underneath.

The second part of the verse has LaBrie singing with more passion with a higher melody line and here we get the notable introduction of Moore. Moore adds a nice touch here with kooky high arpeggios but it is difficult to hear him. Then there's yet another pointless non-progressive break session before the next section (which has happened in almost every track so far).

The second part of the Jam acts as a build-up to verse two. The riff gives perhaps a 3/4 feeling but stays in 4/4 and then changes to 3/4 when it becomes heavier. The riff brings to mind the annoying riff in “The Mirror” once again and it sets the stage for the next thirty seconds or so. Here, Myung and Moore's sound are totally lost amidst Petrucci's distortion. But Moore isn't doing anything to make you listen up anyway; he just holds single unoriginal notes for a measure.

Then we're spontaneously taken to the bridge which feels almost more out of place than the choruses in “Caught in a Web” and “Voices.” The mood changes here, which is needed but the change is far too discommodious. Then the riff makes it reappearance and we're taken into more of the same verses. If you're still paying attention at this point, you're doing well. To make things varied, Petrucci changes his rhythm but all chords and melodies remain prosaic. When the second bridge returns you're just about ready for the chorus and at this point you're probably thinking “It has to get better.”

There's all this talk about things “not fitting in” and “being out of place” a lot. And that's because the most important thing in music is to make things sound right. Obviously each listener has a different perspective or interpretation on what sounds right, but so far the majority of the album is a general let down in that department. And what's to come next is not only one of the worst moments of the album so far, but probably the worst chorus in the history of progressive music.

Firstly, once again it comes from out of no where. It's almost as if they didn't know what to do at this point so decided to start a new song halfway through, starting it with a chorus - but then later decided that they wanted to create an epic for the second last track of the album. Secondly, the chorus is just plain terrible. The harmonies are awful and the tuneless melody is overly embarrassing, as are the pitiful lyrics: “Blood, heal me, fear, change me...” It's almost enough to make you nauseated. Thankfully, this takes us into a lovely little highlight.

Again, the transition into the next section is awkward but LaBrie starts singing back to his normal greatness and the melody has now also improved. This should be the chorus! It's addictive and catchy and the lyrics are somewhat compelling. The recurring themes of spiritually, truth and hope are conveyed so well here with: “And how come you don't understand me? And how come I don't understand you?” Although they are a tad cheesy. The music slowly builds up underneath becoming louder, fuller and more dramatic which takes a back seat to LaBrie's powerful melody. By the time we reach the climatic lyrics: “My soul exposed, it calms me to know that I won't,” we're taken to another world courtesy from the brilliant final high sustaining note on “Won't.” So much emotion has built up to this point...But then...

Torture! Dream Theater have done a marvelous job of creating emotion in the previous section but what they do next is the most atrocious thing imaginable...The return of the chorus! If it was out of place before, now it's in a different parallel universe. It drags the listener so far down after hearing the lovely emotion-building ride that it has now destroyed the only good part of the song thus far. They could have perhaps made the chorus more meaningful for this section, but it's more of the same.

After a quick return of the bridge the solo section is now upon us. If starts off with the previously used heavy riff which has now officially become tiring and irritating. And when it ends, it only gets worse because of Petrucci's excessive pointless note hitting. He is just ascending and ascending until we can't take anymore. But there's a nice link into Moore's first and only solo of the album, which is extremely unmemorable both technical-wise and compositional-wise (putting on any Jordan Rudess solo after it is laughable). Next, Petrucci takes over yet again. It soon reaches a point of almost hilarity when he seems like he can't stop shredding away ever so meaninglessly. There is only one emotional part throughout the entire solo section which occurs near the end but before the silly sweeping that leads into the final cringe-inducing chorus.

The chord changes and rhythms throughout the track are predicable, dull and not the slightest bit interesting. And the same goes for the track as a whole except for the already mentioned section which was destroyed afterwards. The outro encapsulates the entire piece; it's repetitive, boring and you wish it would just end already. It eventually does by fading out.

Rating: 2.2/10
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