CD Reviews

Awake - 'Forever More' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 09, 2012    
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Another great album from a band that has "greatness" concentrated in the stripes.

Awake is a band that I had expected to be a household name (at least in those liking a certain type of music) following the release of their simply wonderful, progressively tinged power metal opus 'Illumination' (reviewed by me in Fireworks #29) four years ago. However, this has not exactly happened. Guitarist Richard Hall departed from the band and was replaced by lead guitar playing brothers Andy and Steven Coles. More live dates have been played, but their visibility has not increased greatly at the European level. Perhaps an appearance in May at the second 'Fused' Progressive & Symphonic Rock Festival will help, and I certainly look forward to seeing them then.

Onto the album: which I immediately have to say is another cracker, yet not stylistically necessarily what I was expecting, as it is somewhat heavier than its predecessor: a consequence no doubt of the change to the guitar attack. It is a very mature-sounding release and also very cohesive, which means of course that quite unusually for a prog metal album none of the twelve tracks stretch out, and indeed none of them last longer than five and a half minutes! Previously, there were some definite Evergrey overtones with inklings of Dream Theater and Threshold too. The DT inflections are still there but now I hear elements of Symphony X and touches from various other sources but none that stand out. Once again Awake has produced an album that is moody and passionate, but taken these and other strengths from 'Illumination' and ratcheted them up to another level.

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Neither is it an "obvious" album, and it takes time for the twelve songs to individually impinge upon the consciousness: and I worry that some listeners will not give it the infusion time it requires. With quirky bubbling sounds and ethereal piano, 'Into The Storm' powers into a thunderous introduction that segues into rifftastic 'Out Of Control', Simon Shedwell's gritty, raw voice cutting to the chase in this rather disturbing song. 'Release Me' immediately continues the dark theme, with some excellent harmonies within the morass, and the first (short) soaring guitar solo (there aren't many, surprisingly). 'Drift Away' keeps us lyrically within a scenario of personal loss and it gets no better with 'Taken'. Both songs have wonderful arrangements which reveal themselves fully to the patient listener: the latter is an especially heartfelt song with an especially bitter lyric.

'Closing The Doors' is a beautiful, if angst laden, song and Jennifer Hardy's backing vocals add to the atmosphere, which is dramatically changed by 'Bleed From You', the heaviest track on the album, and possibly the most absorbing, and comes with some superb guitar histrionics! Look, I could go on about an album that continues to reveal its depth and many qualities -- but hopefully I have said enough to make fans of the genre investigate.
But be warned; 'Forever More' is not an instant fix. It is, however, another great album from a band that has "greatness" concentrated in the stripes!

Paul Jerome Smith

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