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Dream Death : Back From The Dead



The noble psycheDOOMelic label continues in one of its roles - as the Rhino Records of Doom, ha ha - with their new release from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's seminal sludge doom merchants from the 80s, Dream Death.

This release compiles their 3 long-lost demos from 1986-88, bracketing (but not including) their 'Journey into Mystery' album from 1987. With this document we are privileged to witness the amazingly accomplished beginnings of this sadly underrated band, watching them grow through time to their pinnacle album release, then decline to the point where musical ability outshone fire and passion until dissolution was the only option.

It was a windswept day in 1987 when I stumbled into Charlottesville, Virginia's only underground record store to peruse what was new in the burgeoning speed metal genre, not to mention the latest offerings from Black Flag, Robyn Hitchcock, and The Stranglers. As I focused my energies on putting one foot in front of the other in order to reach the register without tripping, I noticed that I had 3 vinyl (CDs were just starting to infect the mass market) treasures under my arm: new ones by Bathory, Slayer, and... Dream Death.

I had never heard of them of course, but something about the album and its title, 'Journey into Mystery' caught my interest. It didn't look like the usual stuff at all, but rather something more thoughtful, something completely different. As I placed the virgin platter on my trusty turntable at home, I quickly realized that these guys loved their early Black Sabbath albums as much as I did. It seemed like most people had forgotten about 'Master of Reality' at that point, but it was clear that Dream Death hadn't, and they weren't at all afraid of going against fashion, even underground metal fashion, to prove it. All respect for that!

At the time the band called what they did sludge rock, appropriating a friend's anti-Black Sabbath insult and turning it on its head. The music was (and is, of course) a heady mixture of super-slow tempos contrasting with bursts of speed, intricate structures filled with a surprising amount of infectious riffage, angry and hateful vocals, and songwriting and playing ability out the wazoo. It's crazy that this young group of Pittsburgh metal heads were so good at what they did, but the first demo on this album proves it. The sound quality is not so good - rather claustrophobic in fact - but the music is there. The next demo, 'More Graveyard Delving', was recorded in a proper studio and sounds better. Both demos were kinda combined to create their amazing 'Journey into Mystery' LP. The last demo is a three-song affair that shows an advancement in chops, but a lessening of the old fire in the belly. Still, it's all good and it'll put a smile on your mug, thats for sure.

This was a group of bona-fide innovators, and those who appreciate how the doom genre got where it is today had better give a listen to Dream Death, whether you want to call them sludge, doom, or whatever. Present-day doomsters of the old school will appreciate what the group was laying down, and how far ahead of their time they were, even if they did have 80s shag haircuts. The fact that members went on to play with Cathedral and Penance only bolsters my case. Guitarist and vocalist Brian Lawrence says that a reunion LP is in the offing, featuring all 4 members. If it's half as good as their 80s efforts, it'll be on more than one listener's Top 10 list.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated

Information

Tracklist :
Dream Death' '86 Demo:
1. Sealed in Blood
2. Rhaizes Shadows
3. Meet Thy Maker
4. Wolves Bane
5. Under the Blood Red Moon
6. Dream Death

'More Graveyard Delving' '86 Demo:
1. Journey into Mystery
2. Back from the Dead
3. The Elder Race
4. Method to Madness
5. Bitterness and Hatred

Ode to Sorrow' '88 Demo:
1. The Unseen
2. A Wayfarer's Tale
3. Born to Suffer

Duration : Approx. 78 minutes

Visit the Dream Death bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Kevin McHugh
Hate Your Guts Records
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