Dreaming Dead – Funeral Twilight (Hammerheart)

Friday, 20th January 2017
Rating: 8.5/10

An unsung American death metal band if there ever was one, Los Angeles’s Dreaming Dead are a bit like how Death would sound if Schuldiner spent more time with thrash bands. This is not to discount the thrash element in Death’s sound (it’s minor), but it does translate to how Dreaming Death operate: less balls-and-chunk, more fluidity, and those rapid vocal patterns from Elizabeth Schall…get the F out of the way. On Funeral Twilight (their first album in five years), Schall and company ascend to a new level of technical death metal being.

Dreaming Dead may cut a tech-y riff (or 25) across Funeral Twilight, but they’re usually quite digestible. It could be because the songs here (eight in all) are quick and decisive, with no mucking about with elongated instrumental adventures. The upward, mobile, and onward nature of opener “Your Grave” and the title track provide drummer Mike Caffell an ample workout as he volleys between manic thrash bashing and quick-timed blasting. “No Masters, No Slaves” weaves in melody and hyper rhythms, while “Buried” emerges as the album’s high point, a combustible surge of rangy riffs and word-scramble vocal patterns from Schall, who probably deserves a further look as a vocalist. She packs a lot of words into her lines, but the manner in which she spits them out has this otherworldly catchiness to them. A real stalwart of a vocalist. (She’s also on guitar, mind you.)

Potentially Dreaming Dead’s next-level moment, Funeral Twilight is a rare commodity in today’s death metal spectrum. An album loaded with barbed riffing and explosive vocals, it’s the near-perfect union of technical death and thrash. Take it as you may, the fact remains Dreaming Dead have emphatically stated their case with Funeral Twilight.

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