Released: 1997, Fortunate Records
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
Here’s an eclectic disc. Dreamkiller starts out with a twangly little intro that sounds like a shimmering little creek running through a forest blazing with autumn colors; then the title track “Dreamkiller” grunts forth with suitably down-tuned production, an almost doomy edge and a vibe that reminds be (fairly or not) of a faster-paced Solitude Aeturnus; then the vocalist slips into a King Diamond impression, and from that point you’re on your own. The whole album is like this: you’re never quite sure what kind of metal Fictional Prison wants to play, but you’re pretty well committed to listen to the album all the way through to see if you can figure it out.
Fictional Prison, a band from Ohio, defies easy categorization. Something tells me they may have once toyed with thrash or death metal, but today I wouldn’t be surprised to find a lot of doom stuff in their CD cases. Indeed, the fourth track, “Evermore,” has an almost Obsessed feel to it, although the vocals don’t quite measure up to Wino’s trademark ragged wail. Another interesting track is “Egypt In Decay,” which has some imaginative melodies and well-melded, unearthy-sounding vocals as well as a backbone riff that “gallops” about as well as you could expect from a slightly doomy band. Fictional Prison’s guitarist, Kev Palmer, is competent, not outstanding, but their bassist, Chuck Postlewait, is pretty good, and the band isn’t afraid to show him off with some unusually bass-heavy tracks. Since I tend to feel the bass is an under-utilized instrument in metal, this definitely took my fancy. The songwriting and conceptual feel of the band’s work could stand some improvement. For instance, the spoken-word stuff on the opening of “Fallen From Grace” is patently silly, and opening an album full of slow, wet-sounding guitars with that babbling-brook number could have been re-thought. Overall, while this disc certainly did not knock my socks off, it’s done well enough to provide an interesting listen.
With some more sharpening of their sound, and particularly of their concept of who they want to be, Fictional Prison could deliver some hard-hitting stuff in the future, particularly to fans of slower, heavier bands. There’s an excellent band hidden somewhere deep in this album. A second or third album may bring them out in the open.