Dream Death

Journey into Mystery

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In a genre (heavy metal) where many a brute husk of an album has obtained a strange luster over time, Dream Death's one and only legacy, 1987's Journey into Mystery, remains a particularly sturdy and vivid example. Don't be mistaken, its gruesome innards -- all putrid vocals, viscous guitars, and filth-encrusted drums -- sound as vulgarly unsophisticated today as they did upon release; but, true to its title, Journey into Mystery also denotes a strange convergence where thrash, doom, and proto-death metal intersected with singularly explosive results. At once prehistoric in nature and deceptively elaborate in their construction, restlessly multi-paced tracks like "Back from the Dead," "Bitterness and Hatred," and "Sealed in Blood" (like Slayer on downers) were decidedly ahead of their time, prefiguring what a whole new generation of bands (Paradise Lost, Anathema, Katatonia, etc.) would soon qualify as "doom/death." Elsewhere, both the title track and "Hear my Screams" allow themselves quite the straightforward thrashing, while lumbering monstrosities such as "The Elder Race" and "Black Edifice" busy themselves with bowel-churning vocals choked over disorienting, circular riff-patterns a couple years before Obituary made it their hallmark. All the while, the band's deceptively well thought-out compositions are masked by the aforementioned, Venom-approved sonic fidelity and one of the most amateurishly ridiculous album covers of all time (it was probably drawn by one of their girlfriends!). And even though Dream Death's coarse outer skin would prove too unpalatable for all but the most extreme of '80s metal heads, their promise would eventually bear fruit in years to come, when three out of its four players resurfaced in eclectic doom band Penance.

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