Weakling - Dead As Dreams
Epic Black Metal
5 songs (1:16:06)
Release year: 2000
Reviewed by Tony
Archive review

Without having any previous knowledge of this band, about a year or so ago I clicked on some thread with a title being something like “Best Black Metal album ever.” Little did I know that the discussion would be surrounding what would establish itself as one of the true pillars of USBM for all time to behold. This is a love or hate album, with virtually no middle ground for fans to divide on.

Emerging from the underrated San Francisco scene which spawned another cornerstone act in Leviathan, California’s Weakling only released one album before splitting up. What an album it is. Well over an hour of jaw-dropping Black Metal, Dead As Dreams contains the ferocity of the Norwegian scene with a dash of an epic feel. It is extremely difficult to capture both of these machinations of Black Metal in one album, one song, but Weakling have managed to do it. Dead As Dreams was recorded in 1998 but was not released until 2000 after the band unfortunately broke up. This, being their only full length after two demos.

Dead As Dreams has some of the thickest, and densest tone you will ever hear. The air is consumed by Weakling like a thick smog, the sounds of this album wreaking havoc on what you thought was extreme. This album can be almost stressful to listen to if not in the right mood. The first and possibly one of the most haunting tracks I have ever heard this side of the Atlantic is Cut their Grain and Place Fire Therein. The brutal guitar tone and always present and often efficient drumming is only a way of buffing the oft disputed vocals. The vocals by John Gossard are very different. They are somewhat of a howling sound, without much rasp to them.

As each lengthy song ebbs and flows, there are moments with sheer violence and a tornado of atonal madness, while other moments involve slow and booming bridges marked by offbeat drum patterns and harrowing guitar sounds. On songs like This Entire Fucking Battlefield, there are several moments of time where the band is pulled to the brink of what seems like exhaustion, the melodies lulling you to sleep, before the insanity picks up for another few minutes, finally leading to a powerful and moving outtro. Each song is constructed in this manner, with emotional moments and haggard passages leaving the listener unable to predict what will happen next. In this manner, Dead As Dreams reads like a good book, with enough madness and unpredictability to make for a staggering read, but enough melody and tonality to build up to these moments.

Yeah I know, everyone who regularly review Black Metal on MR has one time or another said “You have to be in the right mood to enjoy this one.” Well this time, I mean it wholeheartedly. The vocals, especially, take a long, long time to get used to. When I first heard the initial howl by Gossard, and saw that the first track would be over 10 minutes of this, I immediately became disaffected. But much like my initial youthful forays into Extreme Metal, it grew and grew and grew on me until I learned to love it.

There are times in Dead As Dreams that echo the feel of the cascades, other times that wreak the same havoc that the Norwegians did during their second wave of flourishing Black Metal, and other times where Weakling go their own way and establish their own feel.

For anyone brave enough to try something different (which should be all of you, because this is Metal) Dead As Dreams is the album for you. Let it grow, relax, and bask in its glory.

Killing Songs :
Tony quoted 91 / 100
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