Author Topic: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album  (Read 4749 times)

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Offline TheHoveringSojourn808

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my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« on: September 19, 2023, 12:27:13 PM »
sorry for the click bait headline but i think i finally feel comfortable unveiling what i think might be my most controversial take: "awake" is dream theater's weakest album

first of all, when we talk about "awake" being the worst, it's all relative. it's like saying the worst ferrari is still a pretty darn good car. that being said, there are a few reasons why some fans might not rank "awake" as high as other dream theater albums. the production quality on "awake" is not up to par with some of their other albums. it's got this kind of muddy sound to it, and the mix just isn't as clear and crisp as, say, "metropolis pt. 2: scenes from a memory" or "images and words." when you're dealing with a band as technically proficient as dream theater, you want every note to shine, and "awake" falls short in that department.

then there's the songwriting. don't get me wrong, there are some great tracks on "awake," like "6:00" and "the mirror." but there are also some forgettable moments, like "innocence faded" and "a mind beside itself: iii. the silent man." it's not that these songs are bad per se, but they just don't reach the same level of complexity and emotional depth that we've come to expect from dream theater. another issue that some fans have with "awake" is the lyrics. they can be a bit on the cheesy side at times, and it feels like the band was trying a bit too hard to be profound. again, this is all relative, because dream theater has never been known for their lyrical prowess, but on "awake," it's particularly noticeable.

perhaps most interestingly enough, "awake" came at a time when the progressive metal scene was really starting to take off, with bands like tool and opeth pushing the boundaries of the genre. in comparison, "awake" feels a bit safe and formulaic. it's almost like dream theater was trying to fit into a mold rather than breaking new ground. while "awake" is by no means a bad album, i would consider it the worst in the dream theater discography because of its production quality, songwriting, lyrics, and the changing landscape of progressive metal at the time of its release.

i know that's probably a big take to let sink in - and to be clear i don't hate the album, but it always shakes out at the bottom of my ranking. what are your thoughts? music is subjective, and there are definitely fans out there who love "awake" just as much as any other dream theater album.

edit: perhaps most interesting about this all is i think my favorite DT song is space-dyed vest  :rollin
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Offline Chino

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2023, 12:36:18 PM »
I largely agree. While Awake has some of the best individual riffs and sounds in DT's catalog, I've spun that album the least by a huge margin.

I find I enjoy a lot of the album in  live setting though.

Offline energythief

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2023, 12:36:25 PM »
Interesting take, and I can understand your perspective. There are quite a few tracks on Awake that don't do much for me, such as Caught in a Web, Innocence Faded, Lifting Shadows From a Dream and Erotomania. However songs like Voices, The Mirror/Lie, Scarred and Space-Dye Vest are at or near the top of my own ranking. The highs are very high, the lows are very low. So I'd agree that it's a very inconsistent experience. I also don't love the weird rasp that LaBrie was putting on his voice for this album.

Personally I feel as though Black Clouds & Silver Linings is their worst album by far. The lyrics are amateurish, the music fairly uninspired (particularly the cut-and-pasted, anti-climactic conclusion of the 12 step suite) and it was where Portnoy's ego was taking over in terms of thinking he should be the vocalist. Bleh.


Offline pg1067

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2023, 12:47:51 PM »
there are some great tracks on "awake," like "6:00" and "the mirror." but there are also some forgettable moments, like "innocence faded" and "a mind beside itself: iii. the silent man." it's not that these songs are bad per se, but they just don't reach the same level of complexity and emotional depth that we've come to expect from dream theater.

Well...I agree that 6:00 is great and that IF isn't all that great.  I otherwise disagree with pretty much every word of this.  One thing to keep in mind is that, for those of us who've been fans since the early '90s (or earlier), Awake was only the second or third album we had heard.  I didn't (and still don't) like it as much as I&W, but I rank it ahead of WDADU (and certainly ahead of the follow-up, FII).


another issue that some fans have with "awake" is the lyrics. they can be a bit on the cheesy side at times, and it feels like the band was trying a bit too hard to be profound. again, this is all relative, because dream theater has never been known for their lyrical prowess, but on "awake," it's particularly noticeable.

As opposed to...?  DT has ALWAYS had lyrics that some regard as "cheesy," and I can't see how Awake is any worse (or better) than any other album in this regard.


what are your thoughts?

Well...when we recently did the DT album countdown, this is what I submitted:

1. SFAM
2. I&W
3. SDOIT
4. Awake
5. 8VM
6. TOT
7. DT12
8. ADTOE
9. WDADU
10. BC&SL
11. DOT
12. FII
13. View
14. SC
15. TA

If you really pressed me, you MIGHT convince me to drop Awake a spot or two (for example, The Mirror is easily worse than anything on 8VM, and Lie and IF are not great either).  But Awake is leaps and bounds ahead of albums like TA and SC (each of which has only a couple songs I ever care to listen to, and neither of which has anything even remotely approaching songs like Scarred and Voices).

I don't agree with your comments about production, and I don't understand what "the changing landscape of progressive metal at the time of [Awake's] release" has to do with anything.  I completely disagree with your comments about songwriting quality, and I already gave my thoughts about lyrics (and you'll probably get some "Cult of Kevin Moore" comments about this being the last album with his lyrical contributions).

One thing I wonder - just for perspective - is how old you are.
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Offline hefdaddy42

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2023, 01:04:25 PM »
sorry for the click bait headline but i think i finally feel comfortable unveiling what i think might be my most controversial take: "awake" is dream theater's weakest album

first of all, when we talk about "awake" being the worst, it's all relative. it's like saying the worst ferrari is still a pretty darn good car. that being said, there are a few reasons why some fans might not rank "awake" as high as other dream theater albums. the production quality on "awake" is not up to par with some of their other albums. it's got this kind of muddy sound to it, and the mix just isn't as clear and crisp as, say, "metropolis pt. 2: scenes from a memory" or "images and words." when you're dealing with a band as technically proficient as dream theater, you want every note to shine, and "awake" falls short in that department.

then there's the songwriting. don't get me wrong, there are some great tracks on "awake," like "6:00" and "the mirror." but there are also some forgettable moments, like "innocence faded" and "a mind beside itself: iii. the silent man." it's not that these songs are bad per se, but they just don't reach the same level of complexity and emotional depth that we've come to expect from dream theater. another issue that some fans have with "awake" is the lyrics. they can be a bit on the cheesy side at times, and it feels like the band was trying a bit too hard to be profound. again, this is all relative, because dream theater has never been known for their lyrical prowess, but on "awake," it's particularly noticeable.

perhaps most interestingly enough, "awake" came at a time when the progressive metal scene was really starting to take off, with bands like tool and opeth pushing the boundaries of the genre. in comparison, "awake" feels a bit safe and formulaic. it's almost like dream theater was trying to fit into a mold rather than breaking new ground. while "awake" is by no means a bad album, i would consider it the worst in the dream theater discography because of its production quality, songwriting, lyrics, and the changing landscape of progressive metal at the time of its release.

i know that's probably a big take to let sink in - and to be clear i don't hate the album, but it always shakes out at the bottom of my ranking. what are your thoughts? music is subjective, and there are definitely fans out there who love "awake" just as much as any other dream theater album.

edit: perhaps most interesting about this all is i think my favorite DT song is space-dyed vest  :rollin
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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2023, 01:09:08 PM »
sorry for the click bait headline but i think i finally feel comfortable unveiling what i think might be my most controversial take: "awake" is dream theater's weakest album

first of all, when we talk about "awake" being the worst, it's all relative. it's like saying the worst ferrari is still a pretty darn good car. that being said, there are a few reasons why some fans might not rank "awake" as high as other dream theater albums. the production quality on "awake" is not up to par with some of their other albums. it's got this kind of muddy sound to it, and the mix just isn't as clear and crisp as, say, "metropolis pt. 2: scenes from a memory" or "images and words." when you're dealing with a band as technically proficient as dream theater, you want every note to shine, and "awake" falls short in that department.

then there's the songwriting. don't get me wrong, there are some great tracks on "awake," like "6:00" and "the mirror." but there are also some forgettable moments, like "innocence faded" and "a mind beside itself: iii. the silent man." it's not that these songs are bad per se, but they just don't reach the same level of complexity and emotional depth that we've come to expect from dream theater. another issue that some fans have with "awake" is the lyrics. they can be a bit on the cheesy side at times, and it feels like the band was trying a bit too hard to be profound. again, this is all relative, because dream theater has never been known for their lyrical prowess, but on "awake," it's particularly noticeable.

perhaps most interestingly enough, "awake" came at a time when the progressive metal scene was really starting to take off, with bands like tool and opeth pushing the boundaries of the genre. in comparison, "awake" feels a bit safe and formulaic. it's almost like dream theater was trying to fit into a mold rather than breaking new ground. while "awake" is by no means a bad album, i would consider it the worst in the dream theater discography because of its production quality, songwriting, lyrics, and the changing landscape of progressive metal at the time of its release.

i know that's probably a big take to let sink in - and to be clear i don't hate the album, but it always shakes out at the bottom of my ranking. what are your thoughts? music is subjective, and there are definitely fans out there who love "awake" just as much as any other dream theater album.

edit: perhaps most interesting about this all is i think my favorite DT song is space-dyed vest  :rollin
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Offline PMSummer

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2023, 01:12:43 PM »
While "Awake" isn't my absolute least favorite album from the Mike Portnoy era, it's definitely towards the bottom of my list. I mean, don't get me wrong, there are some killer tracks on there, and the musicianship is, as always, top-notch. But there's just something about the overall sound that doesn't quite do it for me.

I know there are plenty of fans who absolutely adore "Awake," and I respect that. It's just that, in the grand scheme of Dream Theater's discography, I tend to reach for other albums when I'm in the mood for some prog magic.

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2023, 01:50:03 PM »
Awake was the first DT studio album I bought on the day of the release. Having been a fan of I&W and LATM since 92/93 the darker tone initially didn't stick with me. In recent years though I have found that while I&W is probably always going to be my all time favorite of theirs there are moments on Awake that I think top it. But it's for me never complete songs for a few reasons. I find that the some of the structures of the songs aren't as well put together as on I&W and therefore makes for some kind of forgettable parts for me. The second are the vocal lines. By this I mean the way they are constructed, not how they are sung. James gives one of his best performances on this album but I think a lof of the vocal melodies plainly don't sound good, especially when he goes for the raspier/harder stuff.

So its an odd album for me. Overall I love the dark tone throughout, it's for a lack of a better word a very cozy atmosphere and the highlights for me (6:00, outro of IF, erotomania and SDV) I would have no problem putting in my top 10 list of favorite DT moments but the uneveness of the compositions keeps me from putting it at the top.

Offline XJDenton

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2023, 02:00:11 PM »
Awake has the song Voices, which automatically disqualifies it from any discussion of the worst album.
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Offline bosk1

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2023, 02:30:58 PM »
I didn't buy Awake until after SFAM, so I had I&W, FII, and SFAM to compare it to.  Overall, I liked it right away, but the production and some of the songs didn't click with me.  After digesting the album, I felt it was a strong effort, although not as strong as I&W and SFAM.  Still, The Mirror and Scarred were top 10 songs for me (until the Mangini era when we got to a point where there was just so much strong material).  6:00, Voices, and Lie were really good, and Erotomania and The Silent Man weren't bad.  CIAW, IF, and Lifting Shadows never did anything for me, and I was quick to recognize SDV as an abomination. 

So it's a mixed bag for me overall, but still a very strong effort and an album I enjoy a lot.
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Offline HOF

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2023, 02:43:48 PM »
Awake is the DT album that has aged/held up the best for me over the years. 6:00 is my favorite DT song, and Lifting Shadows is right up there. If there's a weak part for me it's probably The Mirror even, while Innocence Faded and Silent Man are two of my favorites on the album. I think it's probably their most mature effort lyrically, and the production is tremendous.

So, I disagree with AI's most controversial take on Awake.  ;)

Offline TheHoveringSojourn808

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2023, 02:52:33 PM »
sorry i wasn't around to respond, i was getting a manicure

anyway, i have to say i'm a bit surprised i got as many people (somewhat) agreeing as there were. i kinda assumed "awake" was the holy grail of the fandom and i would be skewered for my opinion. just goes to show you all the dt fans can definitely have a large array of opinions
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Offline pg1067

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2023, 03:15:08 PM »
Awake was the first DT studio album I bought on the day of the release. Having been a fan of I&W and LATM since 92/93 the darker tone initially didn't stick with me.

For me, it wasn't so much the darker tone.  Rather, my first reaction was, "what happened to the keyboards?"
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Offline JLa

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2023, 03:23:51 PM »
When it comes to DT it feels plain wrong to say any album is their "worst", but either way, Awake certainly isn't it.

From the early catalogue I much prefer Awake over both WDADU and I&W, and FII too.

Offline Skeever

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2023, 03:27:43 PM »

perhaps most interestingly enough, "awake" came at a time when the progressive metal scene was really starting to take off, with bands like tool and opeth pushing the boundaries of the genre. in comparison, "awake" feels a bit safe and formulaic. it's almost like dream theater was trying to fit into a mold rather than breaking new ground. while "awake" is by no means a bad album, i would consider it the worst in the dream theater discography because of its production quality, songwriting, lyrics, and the changing landscape of progressive metal at the time of its release.


I don't think it's really fair to compare Dream Theater with those two bands though. First and foremost, Opeth had not even released their debut by the time that Awake came out. Tool had Opiate and Undertow, which were just a taste of what the band would become.

I do think that the popularity of tool went on to influence Dream Theater later on, but not at this stage of the game. And when it comes to Opeth, you've got it mixed up as it's the other way around.

Offline HOF

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2023, 03:34:35 PM »

perhaps most interestingly enough, "awake" came at a time when the progressive metal scene was really starting to take off, with bands like tool and opeth pushing the boundaries of the genre. in comparison, "awake" feels a bit safe and formulaic. it's almost like dream theater was trying to fit into a mold rather than breaking new ground. while "awake" is by no means a bad album, i would consider it the worst in the dream theater discography because of its production quality, songwriting, lyrics, and the changing landscape of progressive metal at the time of its release.


I don't think it's really fair to compare Dream Theater with those two bands though. First and foremost, Opeth had not even released their debut by the time that Awake came out. Tool had Opiate and Undertow, which were just a taste of what the band would become.

I do think that the popularity of tool went on to influence Dream Theater later on, but not at this stage of the game. And when it comes to Opeth, you've got it mixed up as it's the other way around.

Awake still sounds fresh and unique to me and not derivative of anything else really. One of the things I love about it.

Offline Dublagent66

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2023, 04:04:04 PM »
I'm pretty sure the general consensus among most fans is that Awake is a top 5 DT album.  It's at #4 for me.  I don't dislike a single song on Awake and it was a great follow up to I&W.
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Offline ProgMasterMind92

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2023, 04:06:11 PM »
awake has the song scarred, which automatically disqualifies it from any discussion of the worst album.

it also has kevin moore, which automatically disqualifies it from any discussion of the worst album.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2023, 04:12:21 PM by ProgMasterMind92 »
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Offline ReaperKK

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2023, 05:47:58 PM »
Awake Used to be near the top for me but over the years it's slowly worked it's way down. There are some great songs on there but the production really ages the album and I just find myself never really visiting the album.

Offline Jamesman42

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2023, 06:07:49 PM »
Over the summer, I gave Awake a spin. It holds up so well. It's hard to rank above 5 of their other albums (IaW, SDOIT, TOT, 8VM, and ADTOE). But it's right up there with those. It's got a nice, dark complexity that seems to reward multiple listens. I feel that I underrate it.
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Offline JeopardousRaven

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2023, 09:59:39 PM »
I put Awake in my top 5 albums alongside Metropolis Pt. 2, Six Degrees, Dramatic Turn of Events, and Images and Words. I've always loved how it contrasts Images and Words. Where I&W has a very hopeful, youthful atmosphere, Awake is much darker and more cynical. Caught in a Web, A Mind Behind Itself, Mirror/Lie, Scarred and Space-Dye Vest are all among my favorite Dream Theater tracks. I wish Eve could have made the album but I know letting Space-Dye Vest on was already pushing it for the rest of the band. Not sure where it would really fit either.

Also, I love the production on this album. Never felt like it was muddy or lacked crispness. Way better than the triggered snare on Images.

Offline Kyo

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2023, 04:27:01 AM »
Guess I might as well re-post an earlier post of mine here - my unpopular Dream Theater opinion:
Awake is not that good.

Let me elaborate - it was here where we first saw several of the aspects of DT's approach that have come to grate over the years:

1. The randomly thrown together suites pretending to be more than the sum of their parts: A Mind Beside Itself has no coherent message or story. It's just three songs with minimal shared musical content. The Mirror and Lie don't form anything meaningful together, they're just a dull single forced into a more interesting song.

2. The randomly thrown together songs. Scarred is the first really bad example, with parts that don't quite go together and an instrumental section that comes out of nowhere and totally breaks the mood. Yeah, I like some of these parts. Others, not so much. This ended up being a recurring problem for DT's longer pieces.

3. The quickly thrown together album. Unlike the two albums before and the two after it, which included songs written over long periods of time and reworked several times in the process, almost all of Awake was written in about three weeks when the time came to prepare a new album. DT caught a lot of criticism for this approach later, and deservedly so. Awake deserves it, too.

4. The tough guy approach at the expense of melody. Harsher vocals and a greater reliance on "fat" guitar riffs to appeal to the modern metal crowd. Yes, The Glass Prison and Train of Thought later took this to another level, but this is where it all started. As Asgeir Mickelson (Spiral Architect) said about this just recently: Pantera ruined a lot of bands (including themselves 😄).

I will say that I adore Lifting Shadows off a Dream, though. 😊
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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #22 on: September 20, 2023, 06:43:09 AM »
Guess I might as well re-post an earlier post of mine here - my unpopular Dream Theater opinion:
Awake is not that good.

Let me elaborate - it was here where we first saw several of the aspects of DT's approach that have come to grate over the years:

1. The randomly thrown together suites pretending to be more than the sum of their parts: A Mind Beside Itself has no coherent message or story. It's just three songs with minimal shared musical content. The Mirror and Lie don't form anything meaningful together, they're just a dull single forced into a more interesting song.

2. The randomly thrown together songs. Scarred is the first really bad example, with parts that don't quite go together and an instrumental section that comes out of nowhere and totally breaks the mood. Yeah, I like some of these parts. Others, not so much. This ended up being a recurring problem for DT's longer pieces.

3. The quickly thrown together album. Unlike the two albums before and the two after it, which included songs written over long periods of time and reworked several times in the process, almost all of Awake was written in about three weeks when the time came to prepare a new album. DT caught a lot of criticism for this approach later, and deservedly so. Awake deserves it, too.

4. The tough guy approach at the expense of melody. Harsher vocals and a greater reliance on "fat" guitar riffs to appeal to the modern metal crowd. Yes, The Glass Prison and Train of Thought later took this to another level, but this is where it all started. As Asgeir Mickelson (Spiral Architect) said about this just recently: Pantera ruined a lot of bands (including themselves 😄).

I will say that I adore Lifting Shadows off a Dream, though. 😊

This is a really interesting take. Considering how you compared it to other albums, where would you rank Awake in the catalog?
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Offline Vmadera00

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #23 on: September 20, 2023, 06:45:09 AM »
While I disagree, and think Awake is a top 5 DT album, I get where you are coming from. However, your post reads like ChatGPT wrote it  :biggrin: so just for fun I went on ChatGPT and gave it this prompt: "Make an argument as to why Dream Theater's third album, Awake, is their worst album. Add notes about each song". This is what I got.

Quote
While opinions on music are highly subjective, it's worth noting that Dream Theater's third album, "Awake," is often regarded as one of their weaker releases among both fans and critics. Here's an argument highlighting some of the reasons why "Awake" may be considered their worst album, along with notes about each song:

Lack of Innovation: "Awake" is often criticized for its relative lack of innovation compared to Dream Theater's earlier and later works. After the progressive metal masterpiece "Images and Words," fans expected the band to push boundaries further, but the album feels somewhat safe and lacks the adventurous spirit that defines their best work.

Overproduction: Some argue that "Awake" suffers from overproduction, with an excessive focus on technical precision at the expense of raw emotion. The album's sound is often described as sterile and lacking the warmth and organic feel found in their previous and subsequent releases.

Songwriting: The songwriting on "Awake" is considered by some to be less engaging and memorable than on other Dream Theater albums. Here are notes on each song:

6:00: A strong opening track, but its repetitive structure and reliance on heavy riffing without much progression make it feel somewhat one-dimensional.

Caught in a Web: While featuring some impressive instrumental sections, the song's lyrics and overall composition have been criticized for lacking depth.

Innocence Faded: This song is often regarded as one of the album's highlights, featuring more introspective lyrics and a memorable chorus. However, it still doesn't quite reach the heights of their best work.

A Mind Beside Itself (I. Erotomania, II. Voices, III. The Silent Man): While the instrumental "Erotomania" showcases the band's technical prowess, "Voices" has been criticized for its disjointed composition and lengthy duration. "The Silent Man" is a more stripped-down and emotional piece but may feel out of place on the album.

The Mirror:
Known for its heavy riffing and aggressive sound, "The Mirror" is often seen as a strong track, but it doesn't quite stand out compared to Dream Theater's more iconic compositions.

Lie: "Lie" features powerful vocal performances but is criticized for its somewhat formulaic structure and lack of memorable hooks.

Lifting Shadows Off a Dream: While lyrically meaningful, this song is often seen as one of the album's weaker tracks, lacking the dynamic range and excitement found in Dream Theater's best work.

Scarred: A lengthy track that showcases the band's progressive tendencies, but some listeners find it overly complex and less accessible.

Space-Dye Vest: "Space-Dye Vest" is a divisive closing track, praised for its emotional depth but criticized for its lack of the band's signature progressive elements and being somewhat out of place on the album.

In conclusion, while "Awake" is not without its merits and has its share of devoted fans, it's often considered Dream Theater's weakest album due to its perceived lack of innovation, overproduction, and less memorable songwriting when compared to the band's other iconic works. It's important to remember that musical preferences vary widely, and some listeners may still find "Awake" to be a worthwhile addition to the Dream Theater catalog.

Offline Dream Team

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #24 on: September 20, 2023, 06:49:43 AM »
Good breakdown Kyo. I hate Mooreís sounds on this album, and between that and the consistently great material theyíve been releasing Awake keeps sliding down the ranks, not last place though. I only ever listen to LSoaD and Scarred (despite the disjointedness you mentioned).

Offline TheHoveringSojourn808

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #25 on: September 20, 2023, 08:01:20 AM »
Guess I might as well re-post an earlier post of mine here - my unpopular Dream Theater opinion:
Awake is not that good.

Let me elaborate - it was here where we first saw several of the aspects of DT's approach that have come to grate over the years:

1. The randomly thrown together suites pretending to be more than the sum of their parts: A Mind Beside Itself has no coherent message or story. It's just three songs with minimal shared musical content. The Mirror and Lie don't form anything meaningful together, they're just a dull single forced into a more interesting song.

2. The randomly thrown together songs. Scarred is the first really bad example, with parts that don't quite go together and an instrumental section that comes out of nowhere and totally breaks the mood. Yeah, I like some of these parts. Others, not so much. This ended up being a recurring problem for DT's longer pieces.

3. The quickly thrown together album. Unlike the two albums before and the two after it, which included songs written over long periods of time and reworked several times in the process, almost all of Awake was written in about three weeks when the time came to prepare a new album. DT caught a lot of criticism for this approach later, and deservedly so. Awake deserves it, too.

4. The tough guy approach at the expense of melody. Harsher vocals and a greater reliance on "fat" guitar riffs to appeal to the modern metal crowd. Yes, The Glass Prison and Train of Thought later took this to another level, but this is where it all started. As Asgeir Mickelson (Spiral Architect) said about this just recently: Pantera ruined a lot of bands (including themselves 😄).

I will say that I adore Lifting Shadows off a Dream, though. 😊

thanks for the additional color here. really glad to see the diversity of our opinions is strong enough that what i thought was a "hot" take wasn't so hot after all, lol
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Offline Stadler

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #26 on: September 20, 2023, 08:19:23 AM »
Awake has the song Voices, which automatically disqualifies it from any discussion of the worst album.

Haha, I was thinking along the same lines.

Look, I jumped on the DT train on the release of Images and Words.  So I got Awake on release, a fresh slab of DT goodness.  It's number four on my list of best DT albums, and honestly, it's only four because the top three are SO GOOD.   Perfect?  No, but pretty damn good.  Better than FII, better than The Astonishing, better than WDADU...

Offline HOF

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #27 on: September 20, 2023, 09:42:37 AM »
Guess I might as well re-post an earlier post of mine here - my unpopular Dream Theater opinion:
Awake is not that good.

Let me elaborate - it was here where we first saw several of the aspects of DT's approach that have come to grate over the years:

1. The randomly thrown together suites pretending to be more than the sum of their parts: A Mind Beside Itself has no coherent message or story. It's just three songs with minimal shared musical content. The Mirror and Lie don't form anything meaningful together, they're just a dull single forced into a more interesting song.

2. The randomly thrown together songs. Scarred is the first really bad example, with parts that don't quite go together and an instrumental section that comes out of nowhere and totally breaks the mood. Yeah, I like some of these parts. Others, not so much. This ended up being a recurring problem for DT's longer pieces.

3. The quickly thrown together album. Unlike the two albums before and the two after it, which included songs written over long periods of time and reworked several times in the process, almost all of Awake was written in about three weeks when the time came to prepare a new album. DT caught a lot of criticism for this approach later, and deservedly so. Awake deserves it, too.

4. The tough guy approach at the expense of melody. Harsher vocals and a greater reliance on "fat" guitar riffs to appeal to the modern metal crowd. Yes, The Glass Prison and Train of Thought later took this to another level, but this is where it all started. As Asgeir Mickelson (Spiral Architect) said about this just recently: Pantera ruined a lot of bands (including themselves 😄).

I will say that I adore Lifting Shadows off a Dream, though. 😊

Iíve heard this criticism of Scarred before, but I think the instrumental section fits and is DT executing that sort of transition to perfection. I love that instrumental section so much.

Also, I think there is lyrical coherence between Voices and The Silent Man, or at least Iíve seen some reasonable explanations of how they fit together.

The Mirror and Lie were written as one song, but James championed separating them because he felt Lie could be a good single. I do think that suite drags a bit overall, but I do like Lie.

The tough vocals/heavy riffs thing is interesting because I kind of hate that aspect of modern DT, but I never felt that was what they were doing here. This is a very heavy, dark album, but I never get the sense of that cliched metal machismo from it. Itís very much itís own thing to me, and more cerebral than most metal to me. Itís probably my favorite ďheavyĒ album by anyone. Mostly I think James was just delivering the vocal performance of his life here, and it doesnít sound forced or contrived so much as like he is just putting everything he has into it. There are YouTube videos with his vocals isolated and they are just super powerful even on their own.

And yes, Lifting Shadows is magnificent.

Offline pg1067

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #28 on: September 20, 2023, 09:49:09 AM »
I'm pretty sure the general consensus among most fans is that Awake is a top 5 DT album.

In the DT albums countdown that Kev did a year ago (link below), Awake clocked in at #4.  Awake received 8 first place votes and, like all of the top 6 albums in the countdown, Awake received ZERO last place votes.  It's average ranking was 4.5.  For anyone who's interested, the consensus produced this list:

1. SFAM (14 1st place votes/0 last place votes/average vote of 2.7)
2. I&W (18/0/3.4)
3. SDOIT (16/0/4.2)
4. Awake (8/0/4.5)
5. ADTOE (1/0/7.1)
6. 8VM (2/0/7.5)
7. TOT (1/1/7.7)
8. View (0/1/8.6)
9. DOT (0/2/9.0)
10. FII (1/6/9.8)
11. DT12 (0/3/10.4)
12. BC&SL (2/7/10.7)
13. TA (1/17/10.9)
14. SC (1/4/10.9) (looking back, I'm not sure how Kev listed TA higher than SC since they had the same average)
15. WDADU (0/24/12.6)

Interestingly, Awake received as many first place votes as albums 6-15 received COMBINED.

https://www.dreamtheaterforums.org/boards/index.php?topic=57682.0

P.S. Am I the only one wondering where Kev has been since the last countdown ended a couple months ago?
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Offline WilliamMunny

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #29 on: September 20, 2023, 10:06:41 AM »
I'm pretty sure the general consensus among most fans is that Awake is a top 5 DT album.

In the DT albums countdown that Kev did a year ago (link below), Awake clocked in at #4.  Awake received 8 first place votes and, like all of the top 6 albums in the countdown, Awake received ZERO last place votes.  It's average ranking was 4.5.  For anyone who's interested, the consensus produced this list:

1. SFAM (14 1st place votes/0 last place votes/average vote of 2.7)
2. I&W (18/0/3.4)
3. SDOIT (16/0/4.2)
4. Awake (8/0/4.5)
5. ADTOE (1/0/7.1)
6. 8VM (2/0/7.5)
7. TOT (1/1/7.7)
8. View (0/1/8.6)
9. DOT (0/2/9.0)
10. FII (1/6/9.8)
11. DT12 (0/3/10.4)
12. BC&SL (2/7/10.7)
13. TA (1/17/10.9)
14. SC (1/4/10.9) (looking back, I'm not sure how Kev listed TA higher than SC since they had the same average)
15. WDADU (0/24/12.6)

Interestingly, Awake received as many first place votes as albums 6-15 received COMBINED.

https://www.dreamtheaterforums.org/boards/index.php?topic=57682.0

P.S. Am I the only one wondering where Kev has been since the last countdown ended a couple months ago?


No, I've been wondering the same thing.  :huh:

Offline bosk1

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #30 on: September 20, 2023, 11:28:02 AM »
Notwithstanding the VERY small sample size for that last ranking, that ranking is pretty consistent with how the fanbase as a whole has ranked DT's albums since forever. 
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Offline TheHoveringSojourn808

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #31 on: September 20, 2023, 11:29:21 AM »
P.S. Am I the only one wondering where Kev has been since the last countdown ended a couple months ago?

i too am wondering where he is. i never got to post alongside him (at least yet, come back kev!) but i've spent a lot of time reading old posts on older threads and he had a lot of good insight
harusame ni nuretsutsu yane no temari kana

Offline pg1067

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #32 on: September 20, 2023, 11:39:11 AM »
Notwithstanding the VERY small sample size for that last ranking, that ranking is pretty consistent with how the fanbase as a whole has ranked DT's albums since forever.

Yeah...my observations away from DTF are that SFAM, I&W, SDOIT and Awake (in whatever order) are very much the consensus top 4 albums.
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Offline DragonAttack

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #33 on: September 20, 2023, 11:55:59 AM »
P.S. Am I the only one wondering where Kev has been since the last countdown ended a couple months ago?

i too am wondering where he is. i never got to post alongside him (at least yet, come back kev!) but i've spent a lot of time reading old posts on older threads and he had a lot of good insight

You can click his name and find out that he still checks in on the forum. 

As to 'Awake':  I hopped on the DT bus in '03, this forum many moons later.  I rank it in the upper half, and totally get why others here rate it higher.  I just found the thread to be more of an attention grabber than anything else IMHO.  You know, a 'let's stir the nest up and see what happens.'
...going along with Dragon Attack's Queen thread has been like taking a free class in Queen knowledge. Where else are you gonna find info like that?!

Offline TheHoveringSojourn808

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Re: my most controversial take: awake is the worst DT album
« Reply #34 on: September 20, 2023, 11:58:39 AM »
P.S. Am I the only one wondering where Kev has been since the last countdown ended a couple months ago?

i too am wondering where he is. i never got to post alongside him (at least yet, come back kev!) but i've spent a lot of time reading old posts on older threads and he had a lot of good insight

You can click his name and find out that he still checks in on the forum. 

As to 'Awake':  I hopped on the DT bus in '03, this forum many moons later.  I rank it in the upper half, and totally get why others here rate it higher.  I just found the thread to be more of an attention grabber than anything else IMHO.  You know, a 'let's stir the nest up and see what happens.'

that's an interesting opinion. i thought these were message boards though, where discussion is encouraged. and my post resulted in a lot of good awake discourse and i've come away with some learnings of my own. what exactly was supposed to happen?
harusame ni nuretsutsu yane no temari kana