I won’t be blogging this weekend because I’m heading down to Pittsburgh to catch a one-off reunion of Dream Death, the band that coined the term sludge metal, on the 25th anniversary of their one and only full-length release. Journey Into Mystery was recently named one of Terrorizer’s 50 Definitive Doom Albums, and while it doesn’t fit today’s definition of sludge, you can still hear the vintage crossover thrash colliding head-on with downtrodden doom on this one—not unlike a couple bands that would come out of New Orleans just a few years later…
Dream Death kicks things off with “Back from the Dead,” a song whose opening notes ooze pure, undistilled doom before kicking up into a steady chug, faster than your average band. Brian Lawrence (Goodbread) sneers with the best of ‘em, young messers Mustaine, Hetfield, Baloff et al, spitting out the titular lyrics over some slow-mo riffage on a tempo-changing chorus.
“The Elder Race” starts off as a slow crawl, a lo-fi nod to Saint Vitus with a touch of thrash thrown in for good measure, then picks up the pace slightly with some buzzsaw, jackhammer riffing. “Bitterness and Hatred” crawls along at a similar pace, Goodbread spewing some bad blood on this one. About halfway through, we’re treated to a significant change of pace, complete with divebomb guitar solo, before this one takes another turn into mid-paced crossover country.
“Black Edifice” opens with a crushing doom riff that soon dissipates into another mid-paced stomper, sorta reminiscent of Winter’s Into Darkness album, albeit with slightly better production. There are also no death growls here, though Lawrence does sound a little more upset than usual at one point. “Divine in Agony” takes the opposite approach, frantic thrash riffs descending into slow, instrumental doom passages. The late-game tempo change offers a solid slithering riff with Lawrence adding his vocal venom overtop.
“Hear My Screams” is one of the more memorable tracks on this platter, a ball-busting thrasher (think Razor) with a headbangable galloping pace and some eerie reverb on lines like “Scream – fighting for your life/There is no insight/Darkness rules supreme/No one hears you scream.” Sure enough, “Sealed in Blood” slows things down a bit, its intro sounding similar to Black Sabbath’s namesake number, though this tune as a whole is more mid-paced, a squealing three-note riff offsetting the downtuned doom despondency. As with most of the material on here, this song doesn’t stay at one speed for too long, moving into the fast lane with a menacing chug, then winding back down.
The album ends with the band’s signature tune, “Dream Death,” which serves the same purpose for this Pittsburgh quartet as “Iron Maiden” or “Angel Witch” did for their respective authors. A slightly more-than-mid-paced thrasher, this one is all about the anthemic chorus…
“Dreeeeam Death – somebody get me out of this nightmare!
Dreeeeeam Death – never thought life could be so damn evil!”
I’m already warming up my lungs for tomorrow nite!