Dreaming Dead - Within One
Ibex Moon Records
Death Thrash Metal
8 songs (41'42")
Release year: 2009
www.myspace.com/dreamingdead , www.ibexmoonrecords.com
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

With the first appearance of vocals on Within One, the full-length debut from the Los Angeles based Dreaming Dead, I thought that Chuck Schuldiner was reincarnated. That he received a reprieve from whatever place his soul is traversing right about now. Could he have somebody following in his footsteps with that combination of the raspy growl and properly placed higher pitch shrieks which cut like razors? The answer would surprise you, considering that this mysterious somebody is a lady, one Elizabeth Schall, who not only handles the vocals, but also the guitars and is one of the Dreaming Dead leaders. Ladies handling death/thrash metal vocals are not entirely rare these days with Angela Gossow and Sabina Classen being the most prominent in the crowd. Girls who can slice and shred you with guitar riffs (and Dreaming Dead now has another female guitarist in Leslie Medina), like Elizabeth does on Within One, are pretty exceptional, as I do not have a ready-made example. However, to be one of the main songwriters and lead the band – that, I daresay, is absolutely unique. And for all of the critics in attendance, there is not a hint of sexism in my paragraph above.

The unique makeup of Dreaming Dead would be of no consequence if their music did not fascinate. It did captivate me so much that I nominate the album for the first serious death metal effort of 2009. Espousing many influences, but not falling into a trap of copying anybody in particular, Dreaming Dead flies through eight very diverse cuts on Within One. The opener Stairs into the Vortex and the title track thrash and throb, gnash their teeth and lunge for the listener’s ears and neck (to borrow a phrase from the promo sheet). The title track does bring a little bit of that progressive riffing and melody searching which distinguished Death from Individual Thought Patterns on, and that comparison has to be the most profound reference to the style of death metal Dreaming Dead plays. Cursed follows this form with it melodic, juicy and dense, yet predatory feeling. At the same time, Perpetual Pretext combines menacing Slayerific thrash, brutal blasting by the band co-leader drummer Mike Caffell and some spastic techy stuff. War Machine, on the other hand, settles for Kataklysmic downtuned meaty groove before turning choppy towards the middle.

Melody is no stranger on Within One. Putrid is the Sky is allowed to brood and swell with moodiness before bursting out with barbed wire riffs. The closer Manslaughter begins with a sad acoustic line, only to grow dissonant and explode with Carcass-like dryness, riff non-linearity and melodic leads.

Within One production is rather toned down, no instrument is overdriven to create the impression of power in place of a real thing. If anything, it could use a bit more punch, but that appears to be the subtle approach of John Haddad, who apparently produced the album, to let the players emphasize themselves and their songs, rather than create a wall of impenetrable modernized faceless sound. Speaking of which, John Haddad also produces Abysmal Dawn, the band which made a no less of a first impression on me with their debut From Ashes. I understand that Dreaming Dead changed their name from Manslaughter (for those two of you who are downright asinine about your band research) and borrowed half the songs from its earlier EP. It is an absolute must now for Dreaming Dead to tour the hell out of Within One, but to come back with the follow-up which won’t be a letdown (which did happen for these ears with the aforementioned Abysmal Dawn and their latest Programmed to Consume).

The best closing compliment I can make for Dreaming Dead – I like to listen to my favorite death metal albums from start to finish, not skipping tracks or picking out selected choice songs. So far, I have had Within One playing in one constant endless loop and it does not get boring or tiresome. Not that I am your ultimate death metal authority, but hereby I strongly recommend you discover this hidden gem.

Killing Songs :
Within One, Putrid is the Sky, Cursed, Manslaughter
Alex quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Dreaming Dead that we have reviewed:
Dreaming Dead - Midnightmares reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
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