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Nine Attractions - 30%

Petrus_Steele, April 12th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2012, 2CD, Weird Truth Productions (Limited edition)

Dreams We Have Written is literally (and that's implying if they'll ever release new material) the band's entire discography in two CDs: the first CD being the two and only LPs, and the second CD being the collection of old material and the Promo 2001 demo. I must say, it's quite neat! Of course, I'm not going to review the two LPs since they individually deserve to be reviewed. My main focus of this review is to cover the nine tracks on the second CD only, so keep an eye on that, not to get confused.

Pretty much all the songs that ended up on the debut album, Into the Autumn Shade were re-recorded and remixed - and rightfully so, because their original versions are bad; too raw and aren't fun to listen. For instance, the original version of Incarnated Entity is too traditional, has more drum work, and isn't as good as the death/doom, re-recorded version. The other two tracks that ended on the album, Unveiled Tears of Utter Anguish (which was later re-titled and shortened to Unveiled Tears) and Our Mourning Forever Shrouds sound like they were recorded live or something. Most of the other tracks on the CD fall under the same categories: mostly of traditional death metal style, raw, and not fun to listen.

What I did like is the original version of Under the Eternal Horizon. That's a perfect death/doom track that even has some gothic metal influence. I didn't like the version from the Promo 2001 demo because it was much different from the original. And the final and instrumental track, Icons, was a good, long listen; also from Promo 2001. So keep in mind, the rating goes specifically for the second CD, not the first.

Classic death doom masterpieces - 80%

dismember_marcin, January 23rd, 2018

I have to admit that I haven't heard of Ceremonium, before I got this CD. Their name may have popped up few times before, but I never cared nor checked their music. I am glad then that with "Dreams We Have Written" I got a full discography of this American band and can enjoy some of the best death / doom metal tracks from the mid to late 90's, which I can think of. Spread over two discs, this compilation presents everything this band has recorded and I can guarantee that this is a superb effort.

I always start exploring Ceremonium's music in chronological order, so I start with disc two, where you could find their demos and some rare tracks. Of all this stuff definitely both songs from "Nightfall in Heaven" EP (1993) are the best. They're truly crushing and fantastic sounding death / doom pieces and the best stuff this band has ever recorded. What I love about it is how powerful it sounds, the riffs are truly massive, heavy and the additional melodic accents, even with a few keyboard parts that enhance the dark, sorrowful doom death metal aura perfectly. Plus Oscar Matter performed some great vocals here. Yeah, very, very good start for Ceremonium. I would love to see the original vinyl copy of it in my collection! Then there's "Demo '93" (1993) and it is pretty solid effort as well, although it's a bit harsher and has maybe more primitive feel. It lacks a bit of that powerful, crushing sound, but on the other hand I like its rawness and obscurity. "Under the Eternal Horizon" is a rare compilation song and it's just equally good as the EP material I mentioned earlier. And finally this disc is completed with rare "Promo 2001". Well, it's good that this promo is here, this way the Ceremonium compilation is full and doesn't leave any songs behind... but to be honest, this recording is rather mediocre and doesn't impress me as much as stuff this band recorded earlier. Especially the last song, which is an instrumental piece "Icons" is pretty boring (and it goes for eight minutes!).

Disc one is a real feast for me, with two classic albums of Ceremonium: "Into the Autumn Shade" (1995) and "No Longer Silent" (2000). Both full lengths are really damn good. Their heavy, doomy, powerful sound will crush you into the ground and the sorrowful, dark, vicious atmosphere is exactly as it should be. Both albums complete each other very well, with the harsh parts, massive slow songs, but also some faster tunes. The melodic fragments are also great, especially on the second album. And Darkthrone's cover is something like the icing on the cake, very fuckin well done cover. I cannot really find anything what I would not like on both of these albums. Maybe they're not perfect, but very damn good for sure. Anyway, think of Paradise Lost, Decomposed... generally, the British doom death metal scene from the old days for comparison. OK, some Dutch monsters also could be mentioned! So, Ceremonium music was quite different to the usual US death metal. But I like it a lot. The whole performance is very good, I like all these powerful chords, great harmonies, beastly, deep growls... And that monstrous sound. Maybe some songs star to sound a bit similar to each other, but it's rather small objection. All in all, we have here a fantastic band, with great double disc presentation of their entire catalogue. And some liner notes, which will help you to learn details about band's history. A worthy release, absolutely.

Standout tracks: "Nightfall in Heaven" EP, "Under the Eternal Horizon"
Verdict: 80/100

Excellent - 88%

KC, December 1st, 2013

This is such a brilliant band and its debut in particular, ‘Into the Autumn Shade’ was so damn hard to find. I paid god knows how much, but something exorbitant, to get hold of it from eBay in the last decade. Its reputation preceded it. Now sitting with the band’s discography, both albums I mean, and now, through this release, the entire works – including demos, EP, promo, etc. it’s clear that the band is very, very special.

Let’s start with the debut album released in 1995. It’s a tad late for the classic status, so to speak, which explains why this band was late to the party and it was after it got sold out and the underground started talking about it. ‘Into the Autumn Shade’ was part Death Metal in the Finnish-Swedish vein, like Amorphis circa ‘The Karelian Isthmus’ and God Macabre crossed with early UK Doom Metal comparable to the first albums by My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. To pull of something like that and still sound crushing is highly commendable and the band very much does that. It’s depressive and sullen, crushing and pulverizing, Death and Doom Metal with tons of atmosphere and recall value. It’s not instantly catchy or memorable but it’s something that grows on you, its pace is deceptive and calling it Death/Doom would be the best way to describe it. It’s one of the earliest bands in the US to play in this intricate and deliberate style of music which was mostly European at that point of time.

Where the band goes from there is remarkable – I can’t think of many instances where a band actually becomes more extreme as it progresses, and this band is one of those exceptions. Most bands started off playing Death Metal and ended up playing Death/Doom or just Doom but Ceremonium on ‘No Longer Silent’ became almost full-fledged Death Metal. It’s melodic in a way that is imbibed into the music, it’s not deliberately melodic like those Swedish bands. It has a charming streak, flashes of sweetness, rather than being an out-and-out melodic band. There’s that bludgeoning heaviness as well, but the gap of 5 years has seen the band evolve a good deal. Artwork-wise it looks and feels a step down unfortunately, but the music still has appeal. It’s getting in a slightly unique position here, without any real peers whereas earlier on it was easy to identify the band’s influences. It’s a tad like Arghoslent, influenced by Incantation and Swedish bands alike.

Ceremonium’s early material finds place on a whole different disc and it’s fantastic because it’s proof that it’s one of the earliest bands playing in this “old school Swedish style” propagated in recent times by the likes of Funebrarum or Nominon in America. This stuff is superior too because here it sounds like Incantation meeting the classic Finnish-Swedish bands and creating something obscure and vulgar. This is again not the Doom-y sounding stuff again, which is again strange because it started off playing Death Metal, turned Doom-y in the middle of its career and then abandoned that on its last material which sounds something different altogether. That’s a mark of an evolving band and that’s the way it should be. In all its three eras, Ceremonium held together its own sound and vision which will always be remarkable.

I highly, highly recommend this discography reissue of this great and rather unheralded band and would urge fellow music loves to go out of their way to get their hands on it before it’s too late. Not again.


Originally online at Transcending Obscurity - www.transcendingobscurity.com