Inanimate Existence – Calling From A Dream (Unique Leader)

Thursday, 25th August 2016
Rating: 9.5/10

When people dismiss the tech death movement, it’s often for its emotionless and mechanized style, putting forth composition over passion. While that may be the case for some, California’s Inanimate Existence has never run into this problem. Their second album, A Never-Ending Cycle of Atonement, showed spectacular storytelling, inventive riffing, and an impressive sense of atmosphere. So how do you follow up an album like that? The best way is to hone in on the strongest elements and take them one step further.

That mindset is exactly what makes Calling from a Dream even more remarkable than its predecessor. Again, taking a concept in tow, Inanimate Existence wraps a compelling narrative – a young man’s journey to reunite with the soul of his lost lover, who is guiding him through his dreams – into a tech death explosion, equally full of melodic atmosphere as it is tantalizing riff fireworks. The narrative also utilizes more female vocals than the band has employed, which also propels a more emotive and atmospheric edge. The title track opens with this precise tone, and balances a fine line between exotic melodies and female vocals along with some starkly contrasting heaviness and a few truly standout riffs. The female vocals work throughout, and never come across as the clichéd type or simply a counter to Taylor Wientjes’ versatile assortment of growls. Check out the use of flute as well, with one highlight being that of “Pulse of the Mountain,” adding fuel to the ominous feeling of the guitars and growls behind them.

Inanimate Existence continue to use eerie melodies and otherworldly leads to bring the listener to another world, and the vibe of Calling from a Dream shows how far they’ve come. It’s a unique feeling, and one that floats between dreams and nightmares. There is a sense of wonder that comes about when listening to the album as a whole, as you await what the next turn will be. Eastern melodies infiltrate the darkness of “Beneath the Mist,” mysterious leads peek through an overwhelming sense of dread in “The Arcane Crystal,” and the intense “Dreaming of New Beginnings” settles into moments of calm that work as a great dynamic shift.

A lively, dark, and emotive tale awaits those who venture into Calling from a Dream. Inanimate Existence continue to improve their storytelling/songwriting abilities, and at this point should be considered one of death metal’s finest in this regard. Calling from a Dream is a near-magical listen – technically-impressive death metal that is enhanced by a keen sense of atmosphere and emotion that brings the listener on a compelling trip to a mysterious realm.

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