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It would be tempting to write Dream Death off as a Celtic Frost worship band and yet, I’m convinced that Dream Death have more personality than that some people give them credit for. Journey into Mystery marks the start of this band and while it owes more to Celtic Frost than its successors would, there’s more than meets the eye.
There’s no doubt that many of Dream Death’s riffs sounds like a throwback to a time in which Tom Warrior wrote some of the heaviest riffs on the planet, but I never got the idea that this band wanted to be the next Celtic Frost. Thematically and vividly, I’m rather reminiscent of daily struggles and the crap that one has to go through than the epic themes than Tom Warrior touched upon. Brian Lawrence couldn’t sound further from a Tom Warrior-esque barker, as he’s rather inspired by Cronos; it’s an authentic voice that’s covered with distortion and is fueled by hatred and disgust. Another thing to keep in mind is that Dream Death remains metallic to the core; there are no female vocals or French horns to turn their craft into a musical festival of any sorts.
With all this said, it’s best to think of Dream Death as a band that are heavily inspired by Celtic Frost among other things. The bludgeoning Iommi-esque grooves of ‘The Elder Race’ are quite something to behold and prove that Dream Death are one hell of a heavy band, but there are more surprises lurking around the corner. The band borrows heavily from thrash at times; clearly evident once you’ll stumble upon the thrilling chase of ‘Hear My Screams’ and the contrastive ‘Dream Death’, which is a snarling thrasher that occasionally morphs into a nightmare-driven piece of sludge and doom. The band even hints towards an oppressive future with the semi-doom/death take of ‘Sealed in Blood’. With its apocalyptic verses and mechanical riff-chops, it almost foreshadows the distorted direction of Sorrow; that is, until yet another familiar Warrior-esque motif presents itself. It’s something I clearly don’t mind and besides, Celtic Frost weren’t exactly too hot circa 1987… so more power to Dream Death!
Most of these cuts sound clearly convincing, but I’ll admit that there a few tracks scattered around that I could have done without. ‘Back from the Dead’ makes a proper introduction from a stylistic point of view, yet this it lacks some of the fire in the guitar department; making it more of a so-so introduction than anything else and that’s obviously a disadvantage. ‘Divine in Agony’ sound pretty unhinged in the vocal department, yet it’s track that lacks those extremely memorable guitar chops that are present on other cuts, even if it’s stylistically up there with the doom crush of ‘The Elder Race’. Lastly, I’m not too enthusiastic about ‘Black Edifice’. It’s clearly got some juggernaut riffs in store, but it doesn’t reveal its greatness until it reaches the two minute mark.
By no means am I suggesting that Journey into Mystery a flawless medium of any sorts, but with its driving riffs and exciting songs, it’s certainly recommended to fans of… well, practically anything heavy. There’s nothing else to be said – check it out already; just don’t be surprised if you hurt your neck in the process!
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