Dreaming Dead – Midnightmares
Release: LP, 2012 (Self-Released)
Genre: Melodic/Progressive Death Metal
Sonic Brethren: Arsis, Into Eternity, Cynic
MeloDeath is a tricky mistress. Invented and all-but perfected in the mid-90s by everyone’s favorite Swedish groups, the genre has undergone a number of facelifts over the years. For some reason, this has almost always meant a dilution; with some of the proginators playing a watered-down, almost radio-friendly version as they grow older. The common American response to this has been predictable, throwing in masculine bravado in the form of technicality and core-ish tendencies.
The first band to pique my interest after losing faith in the genre was Arsis. Paying homage to the the original big three players while throwing in devastatingly catchy guitarwork and a tad of virtuosity made them easily the best Melodic Death Metal bands North America has ever seen, going so far as to have A Celebration of Guilt rated as Decibel’s 49th best album of the past decade. But with their mastermind missing their last tour, their other guitarist joining the ranks of Arch Enemy, and their drummer quitting shortly thereafter, it’s safe to say Arsis is done. So where do we go from here? With Midnightmares, left coast crew Dreaming Dead proves their worthiness to carry the torch.
Elizabeth Schall acts as James Malone’s female counterpoint in the group; fast, heavy riffs interject beautiful shredding while she simultaneously unsheathes a top-notch growl. Sweeping bass lines complement the six-strings perfectly and provide a nice balance and groove to the album. Blastbeats are aplenty but not too overdone to become a burden. The production is organic and on the raw side, giving equal opportunity to each of the players.
Progression from the band’s previous effort Within One is obvious almost immediately, with a certain jazzy vibe given to the songs. Multi-faceted instrumental “In Memoriam” cleanly divides the album and sounds like an Obscura B-side, and that’s not a bad thing. Omnipresent thunderous intros exploding into quick-paced verses don’t feel forced or cliche, just confuse your neck for a second while you re-caliber your headbanging. Midnightmares sways between brutality and beauty effortlessly and evenly, the perfect recipe for MeloDeath. The Kings (and Queen) have arrived.
Final Thoughts: Definitely worth buying, so you can sit and wonder why these guys aren’t 10x bigger.