The name Awake may be new but the band who were originally called Humanity were formed in 2000 and are now regarded as the shining light of British Progressive Metal bands, yes you did read right a British Prog Metal band.
'Illumination' is the second release for the band, their first for Lion Music and follows their debut ‘When Silence Calls’, but with the departure of original member Steve Wallace the band decided that this would mark the regeneration of the band and with a new name "Awake". The band have remained as a five piece and together with Evergrey’s Tom .s. Englund production they have put together an album that will make Awake a name to be reckoned with.
The album gets underway with ‘Disbelief’ a mix of heavy bass tones and soaring guitars, but the one thing that really sets the track off are the vocals of Simon Shedwell who has a very distinctive tone that fits in well with the whole Progressive Metal sound and it's these vocals that really make the album stand out as a British Prog Metal band, there isn’t even a hint of an accent.
The pounding bass tones of Chris Le Mottee open up the next track ‘Retribution’ with Shedwell once again laying down some truly haunting prog enthused vocals on this one. But Shedwell's vocals come in many different colours and moods as the more intense tones of ‘Crime of Passion’ clearly show and with some quite refined guitar work of Richard Hall, this rates as one of the highlights of the album for me.
The band really go for the jugular with the next song the almost gothic tones of ‘Choice of Time’, a real heady mix of a dark vocals with streaming guitars that reminds me very much of Paradise Lost, it has that same vibe about it, hard and heavy yet still melodic.
Shedwell really shows his credentials as a great vocalist on the excellent ‘Begin Again’ as he and keyboardist Craig Burkitt stand alone on this very deep and moving piece.
We return to what the purists would call proper Progressive Metal with ‘The Price We Have To Pay’, a track that starts off with a thumping back beat and menacing guitars then Shedwell and the keyboards of Craig Burkitt build on this foundation and create a monster of a track with all parties really showing that Brits can produce a decent Progressive Metal album well called upon too do so.
The band really go for broke on my personal favourite ‘Dream Within’, this is another bass filled assault with the back beat of Alex Townsend matching Le Mottee’s intense bass tones and Halls immaculate guitars all intertwined around Burkitt's resonant keyboards, great stuff.
The head bass is a constant factor in the overall sound of Awake and is carried on into the title track ‘Illumination’, but this time with some futuristic keyboard touches and with Hall’s simplistic but effective guitars and Shedwell’s immaculate progressive vocal tones.
The tempo is brought down once more with the semi acoustic guitars of Hall blended with Shedwell’s vocals on ‘Forgiven Now Forever’, before the track really takes off with Hall taking up the electric guitar for some fine solo’s and the bass and drums really laying down the law, then the band bring it down once again as the keyboards and vocals take over once again and slowly fade out into oblivion.
The keyboards are once again the prime feature of the next track ‘My Last Goodbye’, this track is another slow builder that crescendo’s into a flurry of guitars and pulsating bass and drums and towering vocals.
The album closes with ‘Shadows’ another track that starts off from humble beginnings and slowly builds into a monstrous mix of head bass and drums and flawless guitars and keyboards all engulfed by the quite remarkable vocals of Shedwell and rounds of a very impressive release from a band that I for one will be looking out for in future months.
3. Crime Of Passion
4. Choices In Time
5. Begin Again
6. The Price You Have To Pay
7. Dream Within
9. Forgiven Now Forever
10. My Last Goodbye
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