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Every now and then, when I hear a young band for the first time, I get a very strong feeling about it. When I first heard My dying bride, I said: „this band will be big one day“. And I was right. Many years later, I said the same upon hearing Sabaton for the first time and the same held true. Then again, I said the same about Crematory and I was very, very wrong. This album was to blame.
You must bear in mind that these were the early and mid 90's. Tape trading madness through iffy channels and buying random records usually based solely upon the quality of the front cover and logo illegibillity, not Youtube sampling like today. One day I got a Crematory tape with both „Transmigration“ and „Just dreaming“ on it. Back then, we were all crazy about My dying bride, Amorphis, Cemetary, Tiamat and what not, and these two albums fit like a glove. And while „Transmigration“ was a good death metal record, it was pretty much standard fare plus the pronounced use of keyboards, sometimes reminiscent of a raw, hollow version of Nocturnus. It was good all around, but not as good as „Just dreaming“. So I used to think, at least.
You see, we were all naive back then. We thought that this death/gothic/doom phenomenon was a new established genre of extreme metal instead of a stepping stone to the rising gothic metal abomination that was lurking behind the corner. I adored (and still do) Tiamat's „Clouds“, Cemetary's „Godless beauty“ and all that My dying bride and Anathema did up to that point. These Germans were likely to follow the same path, right? The formula was there: a raw first album, followed by a more sophisticated, melodic sophomore effort and nothing short of brilliance in the future.
„...Just dreaming“ is, looking at it now form a grown-up perspective, a pretty weird album. It balances the early death metal roots of the band with the latter tendencies that will become apparent with „Illusions“. The use of keyboards here is constant, blunting somewhat the sawing sound of the guitars. As is the case with most Crematory albums, it starts with a short intro and then proceeds to show its colours with „Transmigration“ (they had a tendency to name a song the same as the previous album title). Those familiar with the band's previous work will immediately notice three things: 1) the vocals and guitars maintain a similar, raw tone; 2) the drums are much less pronounced, often dropping the use of the double bass pedal, and 3) the keyboard driven melody is more pronounced and far less creepy and hollow-sounding than before. A mixed bag really, take it as you will.
„Only once in a lifetime“ and especially „Shadows of mine“, one of their most widely known songs, showcase these points even further. This is still mainly death metal, mind you, but the gothic influence is hard to deny. Mercifully, the clean vocals were not yet present, nor was the god-awful rock infused riffing. Overall, the music is mid tempo, even slow at times, but ponderous, while Felix's vocals retain the depth and the edge to make it a focal point. „I saw the angels fly“ and „In my hands“ are faster tracks where you can still glimpse the savagery this band was capable of, especially when the vocals change in pitch towards a more strident tone. „The prophecy“, while slower than the aforementioned two, is pure death metal in feeling and tone if not exactly in delivery. The album is pretty consistent in this aspect – nearly all the songs plod along at this almost Bolt Thrower-esque trot, sounding heavy but melodic at the same time.
There are obvious problems with this record as well. Variety is one of them. Not that they didn't try to stir things up a bit, but said attempts, as heard on „The instruction“ and „Dreams“ are decidedly the low point of the album. The almost techno part in the latter being the greatest offender. The lyrics are also bad. Perhaps not as atrocious as is the case with „Transmigration“, but pretty embarrassing nonetheless. The pronunciation of some words is also laughable at times. Think Ribeiro of Moonspell but with a thick German accent. Also, the intro and outro, while nice, are pretty forgettable.
Still, all these ailments aside, this remains a genuinely good effort by Crematory and still one of their best. Yes, as I got older I realised „Transimgration“ was a better record, but back then, „...Just dreaming“ was pure gold in my book. Also of note is the cover artwork – cool, bizarre and original. The early Crematory records all had that one going for them.
This album is a snapshot of those turbulent times and the tendencies of bands to „make it to the big league“ by crossing into the gothic spectrum. A sell-out of sorts, but in this case a worthy one. „...Just dreaming“ has it all: powerful growling vocals, a compact rhythmic sound and the melody to wrap it all up nicely. Unknown to me at the time, it also shows all the signs of corruption that were about to happen. Crematory would proceed to drop the metal part and embrace the goth one, sell-out shamelessly and become an embarrassment to their old fans (and to the memory of their beginnings that I still cherish). All that said, this remains a solid effort and one that manages to, at least to some extent, stand the test of time.
Here we go with Crematory's second album. Before I start, for those that don't know Crematory, they are a German metal band that started out as a total death metal act that sounded like Massacre, Sinister, and Nocturnus due to the keyboard usage and overall horror feel of their music. After their first album, they slowly disintergrated into a cheesy goth metal act that still used death metal growls from time to time and then completely turned into a goth/industrial act which isn't worth checking out unless you are a fan of those styles of music. Now I AM a fan of real Industrial music such as Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Swans, early Front Line Assembly, etc...but it's extremely hard for a metal band to perform industrial-influenced music unless you are Fear Factory, Aborym, Meshuggah, etc in my general opinion.
For "...Just Dreaming" we see less death metal ferocity as we heard on their demo and debut LP. Here we see even more goth keyboard usage and different tempo guitars, less double bass, almost sounding completely less of everything that would have them in the same level of ass-kicking music as the bands mentioned above. Oh, we still have vocalist Felix Strass with his killer growls, but the band aint doing the same. Here we also start seeing cheesy song titles that make you go "WTF?"...I mean "Only Once In A Lifetime" and the gay-as-fuck "I Saw Angels Fly". Need I say more? It's a far cry from killer song titles such as "Hall of Torment", "Deformity", and "Engulfed By Darkness". Even the artwork makes me scratch my head...their classic album in deceiving the listener "Awake" had better artwork than this even though it was a total Hypocrisy rip-off. A giant fucking melting face being pulled apart by chains over an endless cemetery? It's more cooler than a green monster with an image of a what looks like a dream-like heavenly paradise in it's mouth.
But aside from the usual complaints and bitching in regards to the band's evolving(more like devolving, IMO) the music is still good and listenable. One a small percentage of me is having trouble understanding this, but for the most part, I can listen to this and actually head bang to riffs here and there. The first half of the album keeps everything consistent while somewhere in the middle of "In My Hands" the music starts to change direction. "Dreams" starts off with tehcno-sounding arpeggios before the total tranformation of gothic/tehcno death metal. Oh and some lame-sounding yelping style vocals. The intro and outros are short.
Stick to the demo and first LP by Crematory. If you can handle this as well, pick it up. Just sucks at what Crematory COULD have sounded like instead of totally wimping out.
In the beginning of their career Crematory was a gothic-death metal band without the industrial influences; their new sound that is industrial driven gothic metal sound is weak when compared with the maturity of their former and original style.
The brutality of death metal is not present in these songs but the growls are there, the music overall is slow & heavy with the essential atmosphere that is present in gothic metal but not in death metal, but if you don’t like atmosphere in death metal songs then don’t worry, it won’t bother you as it has suited & supported the overall concept of the sound to quite an extent in all songs.
The vocals are mediocre but in few songs the range of the growls tends to vary, there are no clean & female vocals which maintains the mood of the entire album. The drumming is very rhythmic and is enjoyable than anything else in these songs, keyboards don’t have any flare & flashiness to them which is a good thing but fans of Finnish gothic / symphonic metal bands might not find it enjoyable, bass is not prominent and the guitars do not stand out as well but they support the music real well.
Songs like “The Instruction” & “Dreams” have few industrial driven keyboard preludes, songs like “Shadows of Mine” & “The Prophecy” are better than the rest of the songs. The last song of the album “For Those Who Believe” is not a metal song, it sounds more like a lullaby with grim atmosphere, it is different from the entire album and is very calming.
In few words the sound can be described as slow & rhythmic melodic death metal without any flare. Overall this is a nice album, no major flaw but the production is not impressive and it doesn't have any stand out classic songs, its pretty much slightly above average album, no need to buy it, download it and judge it for yourself.
This album is too lame for death metal fans and too dry for gothic metal fans.