- Mike Portnoy - Drums
- John Petrucci - Guitar
- John Myung - Bass
- Kevin Moore - Keyboards
- James LaBrie - Vocals
- John Purdell - co-producer
- Duane Baron - co-producer
1. 6:00 (Moore) 5:32
2. Caught in a Web (LaBrie, Petrucci) 5:28
3. Innocence Faded (Petrucci) 5:42
4. Erotomania (instrumental) 6:44
5. Voices (Petrucci) 9:53
6. The Silent Man (Petrucci) 3:48
7. The Mirror (Portnoy) 6:45
8. Lie (Moore) 6:34
9. Lifting Shadows Off a Dream (Myung) 6:05
10. Scarred (Petrucci) 10:59
11. Space-Dye Vest (Moore) 7:29
Following the release and commercial success of Images and Words, Dream Theater entered the studio with an increased level of pressure from ATCO records to release another hit album, as well as working with a deadline for the first time in their career. The band recorded a much darker, heavier and longer album, for the first time filling up a CD with music, something they would later become known for.
During the recording of the album, keyboardist Kevin Moore became emotionally and professionally distant from the rest of the band, as he was contemplating leaving. Portnoy replaced the song To Live Forever with Moore's song Space-Dye Vest in an attempt to appease Moore's increasingly different tastes. Shortly after the album was complete, Moore announced he was leaving, and an angered Portnoy left him out of the mixing process.
The album was released as a moderate success, coming off the back of the hit Images And Words, though many fans who got into the band because of Pull Me Under were surprised by the darker turn on this album. The release was complicated by the departure of Moore, who would not tour with Dream Theater. seeking a replacement seemed fruitless, especially after the band's number one choice, Jordan Rudess, decided not to join them. Instead the band wound up hiring Derek Sherinian to tour in support of the album, who eventually wound up becoming a full member of Dream Theater.
Awake received extremely positive reviews, even more so than Images and Words, with many fans calling it the perfect Dream Theater album. Fans and critics praised the album's darkness and heaviness, as well as the lyrics, which were improved over the first two albums. To this day, Awake is considered a Dream Theater classic.
The album is, of course, not without its detractors, however, the biggest of which is Kevin Moore himself, who has made several disparaging remarks about the mix of the album, most likely due to the fact that it was done completely without his involvement.
following up on the successful singles and videos from the previous album, Dream Theater released both Lie and The Silent Man as singles, and they both got videos, the latter of which was directed by Portnoy. Lie was significantly more successful, though it didn't match the success of Pull Me Under.
Tone and lyrics
As mentioned, Awake is a significantly darker album than the first two, creating a strong contrast to the optimism seen in Images and Words. Awake is known for its brooding themes and heavy guitar riffs. Petrucci used a seven string guitar for the first time on this album, giving the songs a much crunchier tone. Out of the four tenets of Dream Theater's sound (Progressive, metal, melodic and pop) the album tends to focus on the Metal and Melodic aspects, creating a unique sound in their discography, though there is a lot of progressive feel on the album, with only "Innocence Faded" being a strong pop song. "Caught In A Web", "The Mirror" and "Lie" are all extremely heavy metal songs, with "6:00", "Erotomania" "Voices" and "Scarred being more progressive. Most of the songs tend to be melodic, with the exceptions of "The Mirror" and "Lie". The album's ballads are "The Silent Man", "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream" and "Space-Dye Vest", the last of which has a unique sound due to being completely penned by Moore, and has never been performed live.
The album is somewhat known for it's use of samples from various movies and TV shows, something the band had used before, but never to such an extent. "6:00" and "Space-Dye Vest" use these extensively, and "Voices" contains a spoken word section read by rapper Prix-Mo.
The lyrics on Awake are a great deal more personal and introspective, with very few abstract themes. Kevin Moore wrote both "6:00" and "Lie" about his decision to leave the band, and "Space-Dye Vest" about a bad breakup he had. Portnoy wrote "The Mirror" about his struggles with alcohol. "Erotomania", "Voices" and "The Silent Man" make up a suite, A Mind Beside Itself, which deals with religion and sexuality, religion also being the subject of "Scarred". The more abstract songs are "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream" which Myung describes as being about a man and a woman and the duality in their relationship, and "Innocence Faded", the meaning of which has escaped most Dream Theater fans.
Dream Theater used the same technique as they did in Images and Words, creating a cover that reflects various elements from the lyrics of the songs. Fans have praised the artwork as being among their best, citing the use of color and depth mirroring the band's sound, and the dark hues fitting the album. The concept is said to be easier to follow with more apparent cues, such as the mirror giving a false reflection (representing both "The Mirror" and "Lie").
Awake is considered a Dream Theater classic, though whether or not it is better than Images and Words is a hot debate amongst fans. The album became Dream Theater's second best selling album after Images and Words, and continues to sell well. Many of the songs on it are live favorites, though "Innocence Faded" is notably rare and "Space-Dye Vest" has never been performed live due to the band not feeling it would be appropriate to play, as it was a "Kevin's song".
Moore has been invited several times to join the band for a performance of "Space-Dye Vest", but has declined each instance, including the 15th anniversary celebration for When Dream and Day Unite. This has led to a growing rift between Moore and Portnoy, who eventually claimed in a tirade that he felt insulted by Moore's refusal to acknowledge the band, and called both Moore and the song "overrated".
Re-releases and alternate versions
So far the only alternate version of Awake has been Awake Demos released on YtseJam Records, which contains the only other version of Space-Dye Vest other than the studio one (as the song has never been performed). Awake Demos is interestingly a single disc set as opposed to the double discs for When Dream and Day Unite Demos and Images and Words Demos. Portnoy has hinted at more Awake demos being out there, including a never unearthed version of "Lie" with Kevin Moore singing.
As the band's previous two albums had gotten special performances commemorating their 15th anniversaries, it should be noted that 2009 should prove interesting, though it is unknown if the band plans on doing something to commemorate Awake, or if so how they would handle the issue with "Space-Dye Vest".