Infinity Dream – Memories (Metal Assault Records)Friday, 22nd July 2022
Having released their debut album Memories in early April, Infinity Dream may appear as relative newcomers on the scene, however the band was formed in 2019 and features established heavy metal veterans within its ranks, including one past and two current members of Raleigh, North Carolina, trad metal warriors Widow – lead guitar and vocalist Chris Bennett and bassist John Wooten, as well as drummer Marc Anthony, who was featured on Widow’s 2005 album On Fire – alongside keyboardist and backing vocalist Dina Altum.
In a bit of a role reversal from Widow, where Bennett plays lead guitar and provides backing vocals while Wooten handles lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Wooten holds down the low end on bass for Infinity Dream as Bennett takes on the lead vocal and guitar duties. And it’s Bennett’s mid-range melodic vocals that first grabbed my attention when listening to Memories. His register perfectly suits the melodic, somewhat dark, atmospheric sound that Infinity Dream creates, which is supported beautifully by Altum’s prominent, shimmering keyboard work and backing, harmonized vocals, lending a charming mysticism to the proceedings throughout the album.
I’ve listened to Memories multiple times and on multiple devices before writing this review, and the more I listen to the album, the more influences and sounds I hear scattered throughout, ranging from Stratovarius and Sirenia (see “Under Darkened Sky”) to Circle II Circle and even bits of Within Temptation or Nightwish.
That’s not to say that Infinity Dream is a carbon copy of any of the aforementioned bands, but rather these are the names and sounds that came to mind when taking in Memories on multiple occasions. Something I couldn’t put my finger on, and still can’t, is why these songs sound so familiar, even from the first listen. Perhaps it is the many familiar sounds and elements from within the realms of power and progressive metal, but song after song I was left thinking where have I heard this before – and why does it sound so familiar? There are definitely traces of Widow present, but whereas the tempos are faster and the mood lighter with Widow, Infinity Dream feels more serious, mature and deeper.
The band aims to create melodic, atmospheric hard rock/heavy metal songs with a classic feel, and to that end I would say they have more than attained their goal. Take the dark melodicism of Evergrey (see opener “The Future Past”), the dialed-back, melodic heaviness of a later-era, progressive-minded Steve Harris and Iron Maiden (see “Another Day”), keyboard work that echoes Kamelot and mid-period Sonata Arctica, and the heartfelt, emotive guitar work of Axel Rudi Pell (see “Bitter End”), all presented on a scale that resembles ’80s arena rock (especially with the gang vocal shouts in “Coming Home”): these songs are big, melodic and extremely catchy.
This is an album you can get lost in, as the emotion-filled songs reveal personal thoughts, experiences, hopes and fears, while the ear-worm melodies and memorable song structures that accompany the thoughtful lyrics will stay with you long after the album is done playing. This is a thoroughly enjoyable listen, with not a lot to criticize, but I do think introducing some additional elements/ideas on the next go-around will help to further distinguish the songs from one another, which at times can feel like they run together on Memories, but this is hardly a complaint, as the music showcased on this album is of very high quality and will surely have you returning for repeat listens. I also thought it was an odd choice to close the album with the Queensryche-like “The Eye,” which is the fastest, most energetic song of the bunch and would definitely give the album a strong punch right off the bat if placed earlier, however I suppose there’s something to be said for going out with a bang.
The band spent 2020 in the studio recording this debut album and in May 2021 signed with Metal Assault Records, which released it on April 8. Those who delve into this gem of an album will be richly rewarded with well-crafted, emotional songs that contain heartfelt lyrics and memorable melodies, permeated by a haunting mysticism that will have you returning for repeat journeys into the Infinity Dream.