Dream Theater have unveiled the music video for Awaken the Master, the third single from their newly released 15th studio album, A View From the Top of the World.
The track – which follows previously release singles The Alien and Invisible Monster – is as progressive as they come, clocking in at an impressive, but not-at-all-surprising nine minutes and 47 seconds, and incorporating enveloping piano lines from Jordan Rudess, time signature-skipping beats from Mike Mangini and winding, storytelling vocals from James LaBrie.
But perhaps most importantly to guitar-loving fans of the legendary prog outfit, the track marks the first instance of John Petrucci playing his new signature Ernie Ball 8-string Majesty on record.
Petrucci once again establishes himself as a master of the fretboard, traversing ultra-low-register riffs to soaring guitar solos. Sadly, his fretboard antics aren't on display in the track's accompanying music video, though there are plenty of eye-catching animations to marvel at. Check it out below.
“[Awaken the Master is] the last song we wrote, [and is] also the first time I've used my 8-string guitar, which was fun for me,” Petrucci explains, adding: “It's one of the heavier songs on the record due to the range of the instrument.”
Regarding his journey to developing his 8-string model, he continues: “Back in the day when we were writing [1994 album] Awake, I'd always wanted to play a 7-string. So I ordered myself one. I wanted to be inspired again by the instrument without any pre-conception. I used it, and I wrote in my style on the 8-string. It was actually a prototype!”
Petrucci's signature Ernie Ball 8-string Majesty launched last month. Limited to only 100 units worldwide, the guitar boasts a plethora of high-end appointments, including DiMarzio Dreamcatcher and Rainmaker pickups, an angled hardtail bridge and a fanned fret ebony fingerboard, to name a few.
“Think of it as a keyboard player having more keys so he can go lower – that’s what it’s like with this guitar,” Petrucci said upon its release. “Things like scales and arpeggios translate beautifully because their shapes stay the same; I don't use any sort of weird tuning.
“With chords, you have to adjust and figure out how that added range is going to extend, but that came pretty quickly. There was a bit of learning how to work the sound a bit, but it’s been so much fun.”
We're convinced John Petrucci's been building those guns all these years just so he can safely wield such a guitar – as he says in the December 2021 issue of Guitar World, there is a “connection” between guitar playing and weight lifting, since consistency and form are two principles integral to both disciplines.
“If you're lifting weights, you can't just throw stuff around willy-nilly; you need to work out with structure and discipline. You need a plan,” he explains.
“With guitarists, you need to focus on specifics – how your fingers are moving, picking angle, conserving motion. It all sounds nerdy, but it works. Guitar playing and weight lifting are very related in my book.”