Reviewed: March 2016
Released: 2016, Rise Above Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Nostalgia can be a cruel mistress. She’s the reason that so many uncelebrated bands of the past are later revered as modern day deities. She’s also the reason that so many of those uncelebrated bands eventually reunite in an attempt to capitalize on that newfound notoriety and hopefully a second chance at glory. Sometimes it’s worth it, and sometimes it’s better to leave one’s memories in the grave.
So…there’s a new Dream Death album.
Releasing their before it’s time 1987 debut, JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, Pittsburgh’s Dream Death combined a raw thrash with caveman doom metal in a way that hadn’t been experienced at the time. The band folded shortly thereafter and would quickly reemerge as Penance (great band, check them out), releasing a string of successful traditional doom albums. But the Dream wouldn’t totally die, and in 2013 Dream Death would once again return with their comeback album SOMNIUM EXCESSUM, albeit to mixed reviews. Opting to course correct with an album closer to their original recipe, their latest DISSEMINATION intends to deliver a more simplified, er – “classic” Dream Death experience.
The thing is, heavy music has come a long way since ’87. Part of the charm with JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY was the terrible production and the energy of a young band just pounding the hell out of their instruments. It’s hard to recapture that kind of moment. Good intentions as they are, DISSEMINATION doesn’t rekindle any of those feelings. The riffs feel stunted and stiff, and the songs never really evolve beyond more than just a collection of those stunted and stiff riffs. Brian Lawrence basically talks his vocals like a poor man’s Jamey Jasta – always trying to sound menacing, but never really mustering enough enthusiasm to make it sound convincing.
Occasional moments like “Dominion” and “Neutral Ground” hint at what could’ve been, but too much of DISSEMINATION plods along without much direction, intent or interest. Which really sucks – because A) the guys in Dream Death are in actuality very talented, and B) flirtations with nostalgia have potentially sullied whatever reputation JOURNEY may have established for them. C’est la vie I suppose; it’s been over 10 years since we last had a Penance album – maybe we can revisit that path and get it right?
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