Awoken by H8_Seed and Glaze (a.k.a. WoodenToaster) is the best song that I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

Awoken is intended as a sequel to another song titled Rainbow Factory, also by Glaze/WoodenToaster. Rainbow Factory describes a dark secret that exists behind the happy city of Cloudsdale. The Rainbow Factory is a place where innocents are tortured, exploited and killed, for the benefit of a populace living an obliviously blissful life, symbolized metaphorically by the rainbow. The song describes a status quo. There is of course nothing wrong with that; it provides world-building, and certainly Awoken would not have been possible without the setup provided by Rainbow Factory. However, the song describes the Rainbow Factory from the point of view of someone who is a part of the system and does not question it; in fact, almost seems to take sadistic pride in describing it as the worst horror “where not a single soul gets through”. It creates a world, but it does not set up a likable character and it does not, in itself, tell a story.

Awoken builds on the idea of the Rainbow Factory to tell a fantastic story and present a likable character that one can root for. It is evident right in the brilliantly-constructed first line that the protagonist is already in a state of mind where the status quo is not beyond question:

What cause have I to feel glad? I’ve built my life on judgement and causing pain!

The lyrics venture further to describe his arduous journey of realization and of growing empathy. The first verse skillfully sets up his inner conflict by capturing what it’s like to pull into question one’s emotional attachment to a place one can no longer see as one’s home.

In the refrain, the protagonist explains the process leading into crossing the threshold from passive acceptance to preparing for active rebellion:

Pushed by desire to change the way my stream will flow
Now I’ve awoken, and I’m taking back control

These lines are followed by my favourite bit — a section which is sung in a different voice, giving the impression that it’s his subconscious speaking or a recurring thought echoing through his mind:

I try my best to block out the screams
But they’re haunting me in my dreams

The placement of these lines after the refrain is ingenious. They provide the “click” moment where his character truly comes to life and the driving forces behind his previously described “desire to change the way my stream will flow” are now crystal clear. They are immediately followed by “Please break my shackles, I want it to stop!”, sung again in the original voice, which I interpret as the character’s conscious mind’s response to those recurring subconscious haunting thoughts.

The second verse starts by elaborating on the perceived depravity of his life and promptly goes on to set up a further conflict: the “decision of one’s life”. He must decide whether to throw away everything he knows and the life he has for the benefit of escaping into a world that he probably knows nothing about. He knows that his attempt to escape can cost him his life, and he knows that, even if successful, he can never go back. The magnitude of this decision is gargantuan — perhaps too much for the average listener to truly appreciate — but I think most have experienced this type of decision in their lives. Perhaps you’ve taken the easy way out before (maintain the status quo and not take the risk) and regretted it later. Perhaps you’ve even consoled yourself by convincing yourself that you had no choice (“I’ve been imprisoned!”) and that you are entitled to forgiveness (“Please burn my transgressions away!”).

If this wasn’t already the most amazing form of art, the song tops it off with the ultimate master move at the end. The last repetition of the refrain is extended with several extra lines that indicate his decision was to attempt the escape (“I’m sick of hurting”) and that he finally succeeds in his escape and is beginning to explore the world around him:

the bright sun is burning, and my sky shines ever blue
Friendships surround me, I’m becoming a part of you

The tears come rolling when these lines play. The journey has reached its goal and peace reigns over terror. The adventure is over. ... Or... Or is it?

I try my best to block out the screams
But they’re haunting me in my dreams
Please break my shackles
I want it to stop

This... is... awesome! The voice of the subconscious returns and starkly pulls you out of the comfy, cozy rosebed in which you thought the journey was over and everything’s fine and dandy and screams right into your face: The journey has only just begun! The protagonist has physically escaped the Rainbow Factory, but is left with psychological scars and terrifying dreams! Our hero has found friendship that “surrounds” him, but he must find peace inside of himself and find a way to forgive himself, come to terms with his past and start to be a new person, and only then will the journey have come full circle.

Overall, this song’s story has had me contemplate and analyze more than any other song has ever done in the past. I cannot begin to express my admiration for this piece of outstanding artwork.

Needless to say, I adore the actual music too. So much so, in fact, that I’ve listened to the song incessantly for over two months and am still not getting enough of it. Great work, H8_Seed and Glaze; you have enriched my life with a song unprecedented.