"Within One"

(Ibex Moon)

01. Stairs Into the Vortex
02. Within One
03. Putrid Is the Sky
04. Shadows In the Dark
05. Cursed
06. War Machine
07. Perpetual Pretext
08. Manslaughter

RATING: 7.5/10

"All over the place" is an understatement when it comes to promising L.A. newcomers DREAMING DEAD. One minute, they're positively hooky, delivering an accessible, thrashy modern metal groove, and the next, they're precision-tooled black metal assault, or semi-technical Floridian death metal, or atmospheric and doomy. This "everything but the kitchen sink" approach produces uneven results, and occasionally leaves the listener hanging, but when DREAMING DEAD are on, it's easy to see world domination in their future.

The first two cuts are a powerful statement of force, vocalist/guitarist Elizabeth Schall laying down ferocious and fluid rhythm playing as the songs shift direction at the drop of a dime. The album arguably peaks early, perhaps because these two songs (especially explosive opener "Stairs Into the Vortex") best show the band cramming their disparate influences into meaningful arrangements, delivered with conviction and fury. "Putrid Is the Sky" adds a little bit of majestic, stately doom to the proceedings, with some impressive underlying bass work. It's a great song, but until it roars into some serious blasting at the end, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a different band.

If the first two songs (and later cut "Perpetual Pretext") find DREAMING DEAD at their roaring best, it could be said that on other tracks they occasionally meander a bit, "Manslaughter" in particular coming across as a possibly older and less potent track. With so many elements all going into their songwriting, their focus has to be lethally sharp to keep it all together -- it's a tall order, and they should be commended for making it work as well as they do. "Within One" is a bit of a grower — its more scattershot tendencies make it hard to absorb on a cursory listen, but spend a little time with it and you'll be rewarded.

Schall and her crew are on the cusp of something amazing. "Within One" will not end up being their world-beater, but kudos to Ibex Moon for recognizing the insane amount of talent and potential at play here. DREAMING DEAD are a good band already, and the flashes of greatness on their debut make it worth picking up. But mark my words, this is a band we're going to be talking about for a long time to come. They've already got the chops — when their songwriting grows into their ambitions, there'll be no stopping them.


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