without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Sabbat were truly a great band, and one of the final bands to blast out a record in the true spirit of thrash metal. "Dreamweaver", released in 1989, is both a very entertaining and fun album to blast from your speakers, filled with great riffs and amazing vocals, but also an intellectually sound album - supplying the listener with extremly well written, poetic lyrics (courtesy of soon-to-be Skyclad frontman Martin Walkyier), and extremly complex and progressive song structures that are able to allow the tracks to last between six to eight minutes without feeling half-baked and forced, which is a feat in and of itself, as not even the genre's most famous band, Metallica, were able to make music that at least had such a seamless flow in their late 80's, so-called "progressive" years!!
The riffs on this album...holy FUCK! The band makes good use of the expansive track lengths by thrashing out killer riff after killer riff, some of which lock into a killer groove, others of which jump into the background as Walkyier spits out clever metaphors in the same pattern, most of which jump out and dice the listener's ears to bits in a rabid, blood-crazed shred-a-thon. Of course, solos are no forgotten art either, with the ones presented here shredding along the edge of the band's music, delivering a note of melody here, an ounce of harmony there, but otherwise they mirror the non-stop extremity of the music itself to the T, and yet, remain interesting and fun to listen to as opposed to a mess of unrelated notes (unlike *ahem* some bands).
Now it's time to talk about the vocals, which are done in Walkyier's trademark deep, rough snarl (though he utilizes clean vocals on "The Advent of Insanity"). It's not the vocals themselves, however, which are so mind-blowingly awesome, rather, it's the patterns. As a vocalist myself, I can't even begin to imagine singing these songs, and the thought of doing this every night scares the living shit out of me (yes, the shit inside me is living). What's so interesting and extremly clever about these patterns is that, instead of simply following the riffs or the general idea of the riffs, he'll take his lyrics and break them up along certain, individual notes of the riffs, making something that fits the riffs, yet doesn't mirror them exactly.
Even crazier, practically every riff features some clever, intricate working of patterns. And the lyrics themselves, once again, holy FUCK! These lyrics are utterly beautiful, as well as working extremly well on a poetic level, making sense on an intellectual level, and sounding cool as fuck, are once again extremly clever and are linked together by a truly unique concept of a Christian missionary from Northern England travelling to Southern England to learn about the Pagans, as to decide the best means of converting them to Christianity, only to experience an esoteric spiritual journey which can simply be summed up in one word: badass. I'm a fan of concept albums, generally, but this one tramples all over any King Diamond, Blind Guardian, Queensryche, or otherwise concept album I've come across, and considering the quality of some of these bands' concept albums (particularly King Diamond), that's saying alot.
There are so many memorable moments on this album, as well, such as the part in "Do Dark Horses Dream of Nightmares?", after the solo, where the guitars lock into a killer groove and Walkyier spits out in a machine-gun like pattern: "Shapeless form around me casting shadows in the light, I feel their breath upon me, catch their faces in the light, Somnambulistic hunters come to prey upon my fears, as peals of psychotic laughter echo in my ears!!" followed by an evil, psychotic laugh from Walkyier. Also, let's not forget the onimous, acoustic break in "The Best of Enemies", which is torn out in favor of a brutal breakdown riff, followed by a sweet solo, which flurries along with the band as they grind out a tasty thrash riff before settling back into the song's main riff. Trust me, you'll have an extremly hard time keeping yourself from aquiring a monsterous neck-ache from this song. Oh, and have I forgotten to mention that the third track on this album, "The Advent of Insanity", is an acoustic song, in which Walkyier lays out some of his beautiful clean vocals? If so, I apologize, as this song is utterly beautiful. I could go on, but that would only be spoiling it for you. This album is just written so well, with many, many memorable moments that will come to you in the most random or instances or places and cause you to drop whatever you're doing and headbang vigorously! Everything flows together perfectly, with each instrument complimenting each other perfectly, all lending a hand to steer the wheel of awesome in the direction of Sabbat's "Dreamweaver". This album is an extremly underrated masterpiece.
Now, here's my conclusion: While Sabbat's "Dreamweaver" isn't my favourite thrash metal album, it's a truly magnificent adventure of monsterous replay value, and I'm at a loss as to why this album isn't lauded by the metal scene world-wide as a genre-defining piece of art (even though it was released at the end of the genre's heyday, so maybe that has something to do with it?). If you enjoy deep, poetic meanings behind your metal, yet also are in love with classic, balls-out thrash tunes, this record is for you.
Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any neck-aches induced in your listening experience.
England's Sabbat were a band I was very positive were going to conquer the entire fucking planet, so promising was their scathing 1988 debut History of a Time to Come. But in truth, I had developed a connection to them before this, since they released their 7-inch "Blood for the Blood God" flexi-disc in White Dwarf magazine. The band's amazing ability to offer libations to a fictional war gaming deity created an instant attraction, not to mention the song itself kicked some serious ass, a delicious and atmospheric example of 80s black/thrash metal that displayed infinite writing potential and a malicious attitude so uncanny among other extreme metal acts of its day.
As it turns out, neither of these would prove to be the creative peak for the bastards, because their 1989 sophomore effort Dreamweaver (Reflections of Our Yesterdays) somehow managed to trump them all. A concept based on a psychological study: The Way of Wyrd: Tales of An Anglo-Saxon Sorcerer, it further heralded Sabbat's excursion into paganism and witchcraft, without sacrificing their sadistic mockery of the Church and all its hypocrisy. Such was the wit and intelligence of Martin Walkyier, that in just two albums, his band had transformed into something so much more interesting and unique than what nearly any other thrash band in the period were exploring (Voivod the one possible exception). Heady, brilliant and damn near perfect, Dreamweaver has justifiably become a classic in the field, a veritable whirlwind of riffing fortitude, menacing atmosphere and whip-like, devilish, unique vocals.
Those who had exposure to History of a Time to Come were probably not surprised when the bells, crows, wind and spoken narrative of "The Beginning of the End" intro paved the way for "The Clerical Conspiracy", perhaps the ultimate clarion call to warfare for pagan purists and black magicians in all of thrash, an awakening against the follies of the Church. The guitars were not only rapid, belligerent and darkly majestic, but a comfort to the band's existing fanbase: Sabbat hadn't changed much, they'd merely improved. The pace is immediately broken by "Advent of Insanity" (one of the first songs I ever brought to my guitar instructor to learn!), an acoustic piece set against the creaking of broken hulls on some grim shore, Walkyier proving he can sing with as much skill in a cleaner range as his snarling, a precursor to his more enduring and successful career with Skyclad. This track might not be the thrash we are accustomed to, but it's perfect in every way, a somber violin haunting against the backdrop.
Then it's back to business as usual, within the imminent hostility of the next cut: "Do Dark Horses Dream of Nightmares?" The guitars here are both playful and severe, Walkyier taunting you as if he were suddenly possessed by a host of deviant characters (similar to several tracks on the debut), Sneap's riffing blazing back and forth across the frets like a plague of angels warring across land and sky. "The Best of Enemies" features a killer spoken fix before a carousel of twisted guitars bounce along to Simon Negus' thundering groundwork, melodies soon elevating into the fell glory of a thrashing vanguard. "How Have the Mighty Fallen?", the longest piece on the album, an epic monstrosity that cycles between mid-paced neck breaking volition and blitz bombing acceleration, with an extended bridge breakdown that makes you want to club the nearest cleric or authority into paste, and one of the finer solos Sneap has ever put to record.
"Wildfire" is a personal favorite, launched with a paranoid sheen of broken melody that Walkyier himself leads into the descending guitar cascade over the first half of the double-bass driven verse, all leading to the predictable but amazing chorus at about 1:20. "Mythistory" opens with sauntering bass and a majestic arch of melody similar to what Testament were writing around this time, then progressing through an amazing double harmony over the warlike footwork, and the predictable, final charge into the conflagration of Martin's threatening poetry. The guitar fill at 1:30 is simply genius, scattering the listener with the wind, and riff for riff, it proves one of the most taxing and dynamically satisfying tracks here. Another delicious acoustic piece closes the album, though this time it's an instrumental, "Happy Never After". If you've got the re-issue, though, you'll have a trio of added live tracks: "The Clerical Conspiracy", "Do Dark Horses Dream of Nightmares?", and "The Best of Enemies", all recorded in East Berlin (different tracks than you'll hear on the Doomsday News III: Thrashing East Live compilation, but all appeared on The End of the Beginning video.
There is one thing that holds Dreamweaver back from a perfect score, and that would be the production. It's dense, furious and surely thrashing, but there's something to the depth that makes my ears struggle a bit in places, and I feel like a few of the riffs might have been lent a greater impact without such an impregnable tone. That said, it's a minor complaint against such a wonderful work, a concept of depth and character that still holds up today as one of the most clever and fiendish of all thrash works, with a remarkable similarity to the black metal that has been spilling out of Europe for decades since. With such a firm grasp on songwriting, stage presence and the occult, it's a wonder Sabbat were not able to reap immense success, but this would be the last album with the classic line-up. A few of the members hired on a new singer and forged onward with the moody and horrible Mourning Has Broken (i.e. 'The Big Mistake'), and fortunately we were treated to years of Walkyier's pagan puns in Skyclad, before they too started to suck. But nothing would ever be quite the same...and it's no joke that the British band's first two albums belong in the annals of legend.
Before Andy Sneap gained fame as one of the most in-demand producers in the metal scene, he was the lead guitarist in this UK thrash metal band. This 1989 effort was the band’s second album and unfortunately the last to feature the band’s original line-up.
Musically, this album provides a strong balance between thrash intensity and progressive technicality. Every song is carefully constructed and packed with complex guitar playing and elaborate structuring. The riffs are all aggressively direct and the vocals make up for their limited range with solid barks and raving. Of course, there are also plenty of melodic moments that allow the listener to breathe and for some acoustic guitars to shine.
While vocalist Martin Walkyier may possess a somewhat limited range, it could be argued that he is one of the greatest lyricists in the history of metal. Being a deeply devout pagan, it’s only fitting that this album is based on The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates, a novel that deals with a Christian missionary who seeks to convert the natives of the medieval British Isles and not quite getting what he expected. While the story itself is tricky to understand, every song is filled with astounding lyrics that are witty and really make the listener think about what is being said. Bottom line: Even if you hate the music itself, you at least need to read the lyrics...
Aside from being tricky to get a taste for in the first place, I think this album’s main flaw is that most of the songs have a tendency to sound extremely similar if you’re not paying attention. Each song starts out in a distinct fashion thanks to an interesting opening but soon goes into more generic territory as its verses come crashing in. While it’s not really that bad, I do wish they had expanded a few of their ideas...
All in all, I think this is a solid thrash album worth checking out for its complex songs and insightful lyrics. It might be a bit overrated though, but I might still be getting a feel for it.
1) Carefully constructed songs and guitar riffs
2) Amazing lyrics and concept
1) Somewhat inaccessible for newer listeners
2) Songs tend to sound similar to one another
My Current Favorites:
"The Clerical Conspiracy," "Advent of Insanity," "Do Dark Horses Dream of Nightmares?," "Wildfire," and "Happy Never After (Outro)"
Greetings ladies, germs and everything else that might be lurking out there in the bowels of the Internet. I am your host this evening, and I would like to inform you that for the next month or so, I will be engaging in a weekly series of reviews entitled Gone Thrashing, dedicated to that ever-loving Metal bastion known as Thrash, in all its timeless glory, paying tribute to the first weeks of the new year where I went on a big Thrash binge and got my face melted off. So, let's get started, then.
Thrash is a weird sort of beast for me. I like most of the classic bands, but a lot of them didn't get me as fired up as they seemed to get everyone else. Yes, I enjoyed headbanging and rocking out to the fast tempos and ballsy aggression, but Thrash was never one of my greatest passions or anything. It seemed for the longest time like the genre wasn't living up to its potential. A lot of the bands playing in the style were very good, heavy and fast, but it seemed like they could have been more. Other genres all have bands that transcend their genre and experiment, but with Thrash, it seemed like experimentation would drive a band over the line and into some other genre, thus preventing any sort of evolution that didn't sound like shit. However, there were a few bands, like the subject of this week's review, Sabbat, that did find a way to inject some fiery creativity and innovation into a sound that didn't thrive off such things.
Sabbat's main draw was divided into two parts: Martin Walkyier and Andy Sneap, two raging gods hurling lightning bolts at each other above the dark and stormy clouds as all the humans run and hide. Walkyier, who would later go on to front Folk Metal legends Skyclad, takes the mic here, spitting out his long, elaborate lyrical musings in a very distinctive voice that sets this band apart from any other to ever walk the Earth. He sings in this crazy, Thrashy yammer, except its about twice the usual speed, and he also sings at a much lower pitch than most singers in the genre do. He sounds almost vitriolic here, but he also never goes over the top or becomes a parody of himself. He always sounds menacing, he's always legitimately passionate about his lyrics (which revolve around a book about a Christian missionary going to convert the Pagan masses), and he's always spot-on in his delivery, which must have been pretty fucking hard, as he is singing so fast that you barely have time to make out most of the lyrics. God damn, man, take a breath!
Andy Sneap, who would later become a big-name producer for a lot of popular Metal bands, does the guitars here, alongside Simon Jones, with his signature dry-as-a-plank-of-wood tone, but we'll forget about that for now. The point here is RIFFS. Lots and lots of riffs, and none of them suck. These guys threw all caution to the wind and just wrote six long, detailed songs full of every last riff they could think of, and they chained them together with a set of ironclad metallic melodies reminiscent of anything Maiden or Priest could have put out. This guy is so fucking fast that I must give drummer Simon Negus and bassist Fraser Craske kudos for being able to keep up. That is talent, people.
Sneap seemed to be issuing a challenge to Walkyier and the rest of the band here: can you keep up? So they accepted, and out came this insane, rip-roaring adventure of an album, blowing open the gates with the snarling, furious attack of "The Clerical Conspiracy," and following that up with album highlights like the diabolically catchy riff-monster "Do Dark Horses Dream of Nightmares?" which also has one of the coolest song titles ever, and the duo of "Best of Enemies" and "How Have the Mighty Fallen," which are rich with time changes and melodic textures that are both complex and memorable. "Wildfire" is a bit more direct and pugilistic, but it doesn't rule any less, and "Mythistory" finishes things off with a slightly slower paced groove and some ominous, hovering rhythms behind the riffs that just work. Then, we get an short, mellow outro piece. Yay?
But seriously, Dreamweaver rules, hard, and I think this is the best Thrash album I've ever heard as of yet. If you don't like this, keep listening to it until you do.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
There are very few records that have the power to blow you away on the first listen and repeatedly on every single subsequent listen. (And I've listened to it many hundreds of times since its release.) Without fail. Without exception. I used to feel the same about ...And Justice For All. But, I have to accept, that whereas Metallica's classic does have its longeurs in amidst the brilliance, Sabbat's Dreamweaver: Reflections of our Yesterdays does not.
This is the consummate metal album. Unsurpassed. Ever. So there. All other concept albums (that I have come across, at any rate) should never have been conceived! Sabbat's masterpiece is flawless from start to finish. Sure, it helps that the original source material (Brian Bates's The Way of Wyrd) is so astounding. But the true genius lies in Martin Walkyier's exquisite lyrics - which even he has struggled in later works to equal - and the incredible vocals/musicianship/licks/riffs/solos/sonic sorcery on display. Unlike too much music out there, in Dreamweaver, every single note played counts. Yes, there are plenty of `widdly-widdly' guitar runs. Usually such indulgences can mar an otherwise fine song (Eddie Van Halen - what DID you create?!) But here... every single `widdle', every single cymbal crash, every single bass pluck, every single lyric is pertinent, perfect, essential.
The story of earnest early Christian missionary Wat Brand (who goes native in a big way during his mission to convert pagans in the south of England) and the telling of it is utterly engrossing. The characters encountered on the way are compelling, the action swift and breathless, the denouement totally satisfying and totally magical. The album as a whole is a searingly intelligent critique of the doctrines and practices (especially the proselytizing abuses) of Christianity. Yet this is no unthinking, knee-jerk, devil-worshipping, black metal nonsense. Themes of love, tolerance, spiritual freedom and self-empowerment predominate in this quirky, original, often humorous and deadly serious narrative.
Personal favourites include: The Clerical Conspiracy, Advent of Insanity, The Best of Enemies (Wulf's Tale) and Mythistory. These are apotheoses in an album which is, itself, one monumental apotheosis.
'Dreamweaver' is the second album of one of the most original thrash bands ever. The year is 1989, and that's means that there is a shitload of cloning thrash bands who spreading like a disease in our world and imitating 'Reign In Blood' or any other successful thrash album and rip off the same riff over and over again. But hey, not when it's about 'Sabbat'!
This british group has managed to put out some very unique albums in their somehow short career. 'Dreamweaver' is one of the most epic thrash albums I've heard (yeah, epic thrash) and it has a concept based upon the mythical tale 'The Way Of Wyrd'. If you the type of these who searchs for interesting lyrics along with quality thrash riffing, you surely can't miss this album. There are a lot of lyrics which flows perfectly with the riffing due to the intense and piercing vocals of 'Martin Walkyier', and just to give you a brief view about the lyrics length, 'How Have the Mighty Fallen?' contains over than two hundred lyric lines! (and it isn't the sole one in this album.)
The songs are well constructed. Each song is a complex thrash experience with great quantity of quality riffage. The brilliant integration of the intelligent lyrics with the catchy yet heavy riffs causing long songs such as 'Do Dark Horses Dream of Nightmares?' and 'The Best of Enemies' to flow so fast and feel like much shorter songs.
Aside from the great thrashing tracks, this album has also some clean interludes which settles down the mood and creates a variation in the overall feeling of this album. 'Advent Of Insanity' for instance, is a chilling, moderare, hypnotic accoustic song with great pluckings and calmed vocals, even with some violins in the background. It flows so nice and sounds very unique with it's atmosphere and fits pretty well between 'The Clerical Conspiracy' and 'Do Dark Horses Dream of Nightmares?'.
'Dreamweaver' is the ultimate example that thrash metal can be more ambitious and innovative than more deep and complicated genres such as prog metal. It has it's own unique thrashing madness within a complex structure of layers of wonderful riffs, it has a great lyrics and hypnotic atmosphere, and it's a must have for any thrasher. Amaznig album, one of the best thrash albums ever made.
When this album came out it was probably one of the fastest most aggressive albums of all time. Having 17 years to reflect on this album and others of it’s era, Dreamweaver stands the test of time better than most. I think the reason for this is the pure speed and aggression that are present throughout the album. While many of the riffs are pure thrash metal, the speed at which they are played gives this album the ability to hold it’s own next to the black and death metal of later generations.
The lyrics are brilliant, while many thrash lyrics seem laughable to the adult mind these remain some of the best ever written. Martin Walkyier would go on and become noted as a brilliant lyricist in Skyclad but I think that this is his best work. In Skyclad Martin often uses puns and plays on words to make his points, this works well more often than not, but at time he out smarts himself and ends up sounding a bit silly. On Dreamweaver he is telling a story with a message and the lyrics contain some of the greatest lines ever included in a metal album. I have always wondered how much Martin’s rapid fire delivery on this album may have influenced Danni Filth. While Filth’s screech is noticeable more over the top his vocal delivery has always made me think of Martin.
Andy Sneap shows him self the be every bit the guitar player and song writter that he is producer. His leads are blistering and music is complex and well written front to back. Sneap wrote all but one song that he cowrote with Simon Jones. It makes you wonder what this guy would have written if he had keep plying in bands and not decided to focus on producing albums.
Highlights include Do Dark Horses Dream of Nightmares, Best of Enemies and How Have The Mighty Fallen. The worst song one here is Wildfire (and it’s not bad) the chorus of this song just sounds a little forced and doesn’t quite fit in. If you like any type of extreme metal and haven’t head this you are missing out. This is more than a good listen for nostalgia sake it is a great album that still sounds relevant today.
Many, many great thrash bands are out there, were out there, will be out there. But the ones that stand out of the crowd, a good crowd, nonethelsee, are not _that_ many.The problem needs to be accounted for from a philosophical point of view(heh, I like to invent stuff like that to spice a bit the reviews I write). The bands(yes, those from the supposed crowd, remember?) are just _very good_ thrash with _very good_ drums/vocals/guitars and such. But they lack a little something, a little something new, special, maybe a bit bothered with that bit special songwriting. And it is from this field that Sabbat strike. "He shoots, he scores"... Explanation: they are a very stylish and unique band. Very. The production is cool, thick guitar sounds, really suitable for the great(!) riffs to be found inside, which is not a mystery - Andy Sneap has played guitars and produced this cd. The presence of young Martin Walkyier here abolishes any probable questions about the lyrics - they are really neat, long, interesting and intelligent in the best Walkyier's tradition. His vocals are notable too - quite harsh and aggressive, yet very suiting the whole thing.
The album starts out with a catchy and scary intro and introduces the first track "The Clerical Conspiracy". Great riffs, a load of aggression, Martin's harsh and screeching vocals. With the song dealing about Martin's view on christian religion. The next song, a great acoustic ballad that flows into the best cd's track "Do Dark Horses Dream Of Nightmares?", excellent guitar-work, I can't get the chorus out of my head since the first time I have heard this album(joke). One of the best solos I have ever heard here too. Afterwards we get two 'riff em' all' songs "The Best of Enemies" and "How Have The Mighty Fallen". Lots of catchy moments garanted. "Wildfire" - the only track which is not up to the level of all other, still good though, also the shortest one of the album, except the ballad. The last track "Mythistory" has a load of interesting moments with multiple vocalists, sounding really unique at times, another memorable chorus and the riffs under it. And a small acoustic outro after it - that's all.
Try to look for a while at the cover, than listen to the intro - the athmosphere has just been created and rush for the whole cd. Isn't it a great feeling? This album has that small, yet immense, thingie, that attracts the listeners more than anything else. If you like thrash and haven't heard this album - your life has almost been just half wasted. So you'd better correct this mistake as soon as possible. If you're quite far from enjoying the feeling which the musicians create through the songs, you are still likely to enjoy the fantstic riffs. Thus I spoke. Thy move.