Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review of Dream Death's Dissemination

Dream Death's third full-length album isn't too far removed from 2013's Somnium Excessum, the album that brought these Pittsburgh should-have-beens back from the dead (No pun intended). The band's refusal to commit to a single genre is at full force as the songs opt for doom, thrash, or a ripping combination. Guitarist/vocalist Brian Lawrence's ever distinctive bark continues to guide the listener through the labyrinthian sludge and the production develops an atmosphere that is dark yet clear.

But while Dissemination's near forty minute run time is about the same as Dream Death's past two efforts, the album does stand out for having more songs to work with than usual. Ten tracks total with an average length of three to four minutes between them doesn't result in more accessible songwriting or bids for radio play, but it does condense them quite a bit. Several songs have a tendency to run together and there isn't as much time to really build anything up beyond the odd tempo swap. Fortunately, there are still good songs on here despite the slight format change; the title track leads the charge with a pretty upbeat riff set and "All In Vain" rides a solid plodding chug through its three minute duration.

That said, there are some attempts to preserve the past dynamic feel even if the results aren't as ominous as past staples like "Them" or "Sealed In Blood." The closing "In Perpetuum" may be the most ambitious track as its ambient intro eventually gives way to a creepy shuffling rhythm and more restrained vocals while "The Other Side" keeps its haunting tone throughout with a nice Pentagram-esque stomp to match. There are also a number of samples throughout the album that seem to be based on hypnotic suggestion and astral travel. It's hard to tell if they're indications of an overarching lyrical theme beyond the usual gloom and doom, but they don't sound out of place either.

In an ironic twist, the fact that Dream Death's third album has shorter songs may actually make it harder to get a feel for in comparison to Somnium Excessum or Journey Into Mystery. On one hand, the scope is slightly scaled back and there aren't as many soul harrowing moments as before. On the other hand, the fact that the band members stick to their guns and have their signature tropes in place keeps this from feeling an identity crisis. It may take a bit more effort to appreciate but it's still worth looking into for doom and sludge diehards.

"All In Vain"
"The Other Side"
"In Perpetuum"

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