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Atonement for the sins of Dream Death - 85%

Gutterscream, April 24th, 2010
Written based on this version: 1990, Cassette, Independent

“…don't have all the answers to cure life's cancer…”

I can’t tell you how pleased I was to find this gothically-covered demo lurking in my mailbox one day. I recall reading in various fanzines that Pennsylvania plodsters Dream Death had finally deep sixed their old silly moniker for the more grim-eyed Penance, so I pretty much immediately knew what I was getting into when I jammed Living Truth into the tapedeck.

Without disappointment, Mike Smail and crew serve up some sloggingly good stuff, doom as the day is dreary as anticipated, heartened with a decent production, and with a more wily ambition that often comes with maturity. With powder blue feel good auras all around, “Contemplation” atonally assaults my bedroom furniture which by ’90 had already soaked in enough metal soundwaves to be considered poisonous to the touch. The folks were used to it as well. Between me and my younger brother, they had no choice. Instrumental “Contemplation” keeps attention levels steady in its crosshairs by seamlessly fusing together a load of full, brawny rhythms. Elephant “Born to Suffer” lumbers with true doom merchant grit which collides with the chorus’s bludgeoning downswing, and there’s grand ‘ol Mr. Goodbread and his grand ‘ol angry, hooked-on-despair vocal style. Cowbelling “Crosses We Bear”, Atlas stone-heavy “In Spite of You”, and aural novella “Penance” round out the grim festivities that danced morbidly on my (most likely) unmade double bed. It was a nice day.

Okay, it’s obvious Goodbread was spitting on the mike, but after perusing the j-card I realized he wasn’t listed with the rest of the line-up, but provided vocals as a courtesy. Ah shit. That usually means he’s on his way out (actually he’d stick around for a little while longer, luckily). In other news, it’s apparent Ted Williams wasn’t hitting home runs with his bass for the guys as well. But as the band stands in the batter’s box, all’s pretty well; the fans are cheering, they have a decent lead over the competiton, and the days of Penance had just struck the Earth.

And the draft list is as follows: “Penance” is called up from the Triple AAA farm team and slurps in at about two minutes longer yet on The Road Less Traveled, meanwhile two seasons later “Born to Suffer” and “Crosses We Bear” (now just “Crosses”) increase Parallel Corner’s slugging percentage.