Dreaming Dead - Midnightmares
Melodic Technical Death
9 songs (39'43")
Release year: 2012
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

I always take it as a point of personal satisfaction when the bands I caught pretty much in their infancy, and who got favorable reviews from me on their demos or debuts, go on to gain fame and notoriety. I recall writing about Tyr and Insomnium when they were pining for publicity. It is also rewarding when I think I hear talent and someone else (with a power of a label behind them) also gives a band a chance. Take last week Italians Lahmia as a recent example.

The opposite is also true. It pains me to see when something, which struck my ears as outstanding material, fades into obscurity without others paying notice.

Granted, I do try to see the positive in just about anything that passes my desk from young collectives. Yet, when you think you get a gem, it tends to stick with you for a long time. Dreaming Dead Within One 2009 debut was that album which I thought would spark this Los Angeles based US band to a lofty career. For one unbeknownst reason or another, Dreaming Dead, still with Elizabeth Schall and Mike Caffell at the helm, did not release an album until now, and even with Midnightmares, it is my understanding they had to resort to a Kickstarter campaign. With Kickstarter, self-releasing band lacks funds, so they send out an e-mail calling for support and donations. Once the network they solicited responds with sufficient amount, they go to production. Otherwise, the album may not see the light of day. Having been listening to Midnightmares for a couple of weeks now in almost non-stop fashion, all I want to say – where do I sign for Dreaming Dead Kickstarter?

The opener Wake serves as an announcement that we are about to witness a guitar dominated record, with its thick, reverberating, amp-showcasing guitar tone. From there on out, Elizabeth Schall proceeds to meld the barriers between technical, melodic, brutal death, thrash and a touch of black metal to create a collection of songs as aggressive as they are fluid and impressive in the songwriting department. The one-two punch of Overlord and the title track alternate between jackhammering blasts and thrash beat, blend in overt melodies and jazzy sidestep interludes to bring to mind the latter Death albums, Control Denied and, in the case of Midnightmares the song, Necrophobic on Hrimthursum. The late Chuck Schuldiner served as an inspiration on Within One, and he would not be embarrassed by Midnightmares either. Dreaming Dead can take on many faces. Aggressive and chaotic Into the Abyss, dragging then mood changing Lapse, ever-growing in the shear number of layers In Memoriam and the aptly titled bluesy closer Departure instrumentals – the pictures in Midnightmares kaleidoscope keep changing, but the album never releases its tight throat-grabbing attention grip. Add to this expansive and coming in waves solos (like the one on the title track), and one can’t help but marvel at the number of ideas coming from this one guitarist’s head. No wonder the amp making company has asked Elizabeth to showcase their new amplifier, since she is able to coax so many facets from her instrument. At the same time, as often as the riffs change on the album, nothing here is over the top or overwhelming, creating the pleasant sense of welcome familiarity.

Elizabeth’s vocals are another aspect of the album worth mentioning and praising. Going through various extreme expressions, she brings an impressive variety to the album’s voices. Possessed and neurotic, mostly higher pitched (just like Chuck Schuldiner’s), the sharp phrasing fitting flowing melodic lines, the vocals bring the final piece to the Midnightmares puzzle.

Self-released or label backed, signed to a deal or not, Dreaming Dead is two for two in my book of excellence so far.

Killing Songs :
Overlord, Midnightmares, Corpse Mountain
Alex quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Dreaming Dead that we have reviewed:
Dreaming Dead - Within One reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
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