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Dream Death's debut "Journey into Mystery" is one of my favorite metal albums. Having said that, after waiting twenty-six years for another, and viewing the original and appealing cover art in advance, I was certainly excited about this release and obtained it as soon as it became available.
The Pittsburgh boys commence the album with "Feast", which is by far the strongest track within. It is very reminiscent of the first album in terms of sound and feeling. Mike Smail's drum chops are in full effect right off the bat, while a slightly modernized overall aesthetic emerges. The dirty, sliding riffage of yesteryear is ever-present and instantly recognizable as Dream Death. The chorus is pleasingly catchy and overall it is a great opener, as well as a great tune. I had high hopes for what was to come after this.
From there on out, though, things aren't nearly as convincing. While the intro to "Them" is creepy and quite interesting, the songs themselves feel forced and not really in the vain that I prefer style-wise. Brian Lawrence's vocals are similar to the days of old, but also contain a new flair at times that doesn't do a whole lot for me. He and Weston perform their guitar duties well enough, but I am left with a bland taste in my mouth after all is said and done. No tracks here other than the opener compare in terms of quality to gems from the debut like "The Elder Race" or "Sealed in Blood". The similar atmosphere that made that album so classic is most certainly absent here. A more uneven version of the band appears and only sections of this awkward musical direction work.
The collection is three quarters the original, with the lone new member Richard Freund handling the bass duties and handling them plenty adequately. He displays far superior execution and visibility in the mix than original bassist Ted Williams did. Regrettably, this isn't nearly enough to save the album from being mediocre overall. "Bludgeon" and "From Inside the Walls" both have moments that raise my eyebrows, especially the eerie opening section in the latter, with the bass extremely distorted and glorious, but they always manage to go somewhere that loses my interest. By no means did I want a "Journey into Mystery" clone, but the difference in sound and content here just doesn't match in terms of quality. Filler-riffs were called upon often to complete half songs it appears, and while this album is not a horrible one, it does not live up to it's predessessor as a whole.
If your interest was sparked in this band via word of mouth, but your ears have yet to experience them, I strongly recommend beginning with "Journey into Mystery". It is far superior in terms of overall vibe and has an aura about it that this effort just does not contain