Dreaming Dead: Midnightmares

There has been a lot of eager anticipation for the second album from US melodic death metal band Dreaming Dead. The follow up to their acclaimed 2009 debut Within One on Ibex Moon Records, the new album Midnightmares was originally planned for the latter part of last year but after a delay it finally sees its unveiling April 20th as a self release by the band. The wait will be soon be forgotten once the stunning nine tracks fuel a deep rooted satisfaction in their fans and the release sure to draw in many more attentive followers to their mighty and expressive sounds.

Formed in 2006 as Manslaughter and releasing a demo of that year, the band evolved and emerged as a formidable creative unit by their debut album. Shared stages with the likes of Morbid Angel, Immolation, Krisiun, Nile, and Exhausted Prayer led them to stronger attention in the US. April 2011 saw the Californians going into the studio to record Midnightmares, the result an album that stirs up the senses into a very raw and excited state.  Though classed as melodic death metal their sound offers much more, the added progressive metal, thrash aggression, and other varied flavours making it a full and rounded flavoursome beast that offers an imaginative and compulsive experience.

Opening on the crawling death metal instrumental Wake the band explodes into aggressive intensity with the following Overlord. The opening piece of music shows the strong expressive creative guitar work of Elizabeth Schall whilst the darkened basslines of Juan Ramirez are revealed as an inspiring shadowed presence here and throughout the album. Overlord gives evidence of the harsh energised side of the band as it tramples the senses with a thrash veined rampage whilst enticing them with a strong progressive design to the song. The drums of Michael Caffell form a mighty and controlled network of rhythms for the other pair of the trio to explore and expand their ideas within, whilst his guttural additional vocals make a powerful companion to the coarse and caustic lead vocals of Schall.

Though a very strong and pleasing start the album gets better the further it progresses. The following title track raising the level immediately as it blisters the ear with venomous intent from vocals and bass whilst the acidic guitar manipulations scorch with their tight sharp groove and intrusions. The song is a mesh of inspired ideas and riffs that feast upon the senses as equally as they fed them.

The wonderfully niggling and persistent Exile, the stunning mesmeric and majestic  In Memoriam, and the violent addictively grooved Into the Depths, all step by step add more and more infectious and compelling elements to the sound, each superbly crafted and diverse without losing any of the intensity or nastiness the band do so well too. The second of these three rivals for best track on the album only matched by the excellent Lapse and the closing instrumental Departure. In many ways this is the most surprising thing about Midnightmares in that the instrumentals outshine the other songs somewhat. This is not because the vocal led ones lack any quality or satisfaction giving skills, it is that the band finds extra freedom on the instrumentals to explore and take us to even deeper depths. In Memoriam is magnificent, a vibrant and eager mischievous collection of ideas and emotive sounds that flow with ease and confidence down new and adventurous avenues. Departure too shows this side of the band and their instinctive and skilled craft. The song opens with a slowly dawning progressive saunter through its soundscape, guitar and bass bringing rivalling but companion tones. The track expands into a wider intimidating prowl before finding more expressive angles to inflame the senses with. The piece provokes imagery and ideas as it moves towards its leaving and though not with the infectious urgency of In Memoriam it is just as deeply provocative.

Midnightmares is a mightily impressive album and well worth the extra wait for their fans old and new. There are many corridors and rooms within death metal as a genre and Dreaming Dead provide one of the most appealing and exciting of them all.

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RingMaster 16/04/2012

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