Power of Metal.dk Review

Never Awake
Style: Progressive Metal
Release date: 19 May, 2014
Playing time: 51:51

I love it when a band exceeds my expectations. Never Awake's debut album didn't have much going for it, especially after I saw the "glamorous" music video they shot that reminded me of some 80's fog-filled hair metal fest. The music sounded good, though. After absorbing "Underground", however, this band has won my ears. This progressive metal album is rank with experimentation and sheer catchiness.
Never Awake hail from Portland, OR, and they do have a distinctly American sound. I expected that they would sound like some Dream Theater knock-off, but they are anything but this, happily! Instead of coming from either a Dream Theater or Symphony X background like most other prog metal bands, Never Awake remind me of an early Mudvayne. Indeed, "Underground" often sounds like the progressive Mudvayne album I always wanted. That is not to say that every track sounds like this, but it is apparent pretty often, especially in the title track.

The band members are extremely talented musicians. I am impressed with the growling guitars from Matt Galligan and the solid bass from Jesse Weiss. I'm really impressed with the amazing drummer Alex McDonald. In fact, this is one of the best drum performances I've heard this year, as Alex blows the speakers with diverse and creative blast beats that are equally mixed with cymbal and tom work that are just as technical and well-placed. I'm really, really impressed with the vocalist Taylor Dye. As I said, he seems to go for the glam rock vibe, but his voice makes up for it, as he ranges from the snarls of Mudvayne to a melodic drama that hits all the right notes.

Even being young, this band feels like a unit. The music is tight and incredibly directed. Many times, new bands play a vague form of whatever they are hoping to produce, and the result is a lack of connection with the audience. Never Awake, however, have incredibly catchy melodies and choruses, inspired instrumentals, and a sense that they know what they are doing. They experiment with all sorts of tones and melodic structures, and I'm very impressed with their time signature change abilities, as they are spot on and hard-hitting.

The album starts out a little slower, and I was worried at first. "Pull the Trigger" is a good song, but it is very normal. However, when the title track begins, the album never lets go. From the awesome subtle melody of "Underground" to the atmospheric "Wander" and "History's Pages" to the great hook of "Downtown", this debut is really solid. My favorite song (and probably one of my favorite songs of the year) is "Cross the Line", an extremely prog-centric track with a great beginning, an ethereal middle, and a bombastically good ending. Seriously, it's an amazing song.

Never Awake have impressed me thoroughly. The nostalgia from Mudvayne helps for sure, but this band has their own sound, their own structural genius, and a penchant for amazing choruses that will have you singing out loud. I'm really excited to see where these guys take their sound, and I plan to enjoy "Underground" for some time yet.

01. Pull the Trigger
02. Underground
03. Wander
04. History's Pages
05. Cross the Line
06. Habits
07. The Will to Live
08. Downtown
Label: Independent
Distribution: Never Awake @ Bandcamp
Artwork rating: 80/100
Reviewed by: Jason Spencer
Date: 18 June, 2014
Website: Never Awake @ Bandcamp