With every batch of pre-pubescent hardcore polliwogs in too-tight ironic shirts doing third-rate ISIS and PELICAN impressions lately, it's easy to be suspicious when another band comes along fusing apocalyptic chords and dark, brooding atmospheres. Thankfully, TRANSMISSION0 have been around the block a little (releasing an unheralded debut on the Go Kart label some time back) and they draw their influences from a deeper well. While they rely on repetition, hypnotic simplicity and wall-of-sound heaviness, their sound seems more akin to older, wiser heads, like NEUROSIS, INTRICATE and perhaps even early-to-mid period KATATONIA — and as a result, their sound doesn't come across as run-of-the-mill.
Not that you'd probably know this, but "Memory of a Dream" is a less heavy, more airy and wide-open album than the band's debut, "0". It's still aggressive and harsh, it's just more textured — check out the amazing guitar noise on "Paracas", a wall of chiming clangor that would do early CURE or KILLING JOKE proud, with roared vocals and an insistent, pulsing beat. TRANSMISSION0 songs don't so much follow arrangements as they ebb and flow like the ocean waves on the album cover; crashing in, receding into quiet, with sinister undertows that foretell another churning wave of sturm und drang. It's quite an epic journey, long exercises in tension and release that are too compelling and edgy to fade into ambient background drone.
Quieter moments, like the interlude "Dream1" and the verse of "Fragments", exude a lonely, bleak vibe, a depressive and doomy atmosphere that simply explodes into the heavier, more end-of-the-world parts. The inarguable pinnacle of sheer doom is "Dying Light", a song so mournful and suffocating it should come with a warning label and a bottle of Prozac – it's such a solid mass of darkness, it seems impossible that the album could continue past it, but the crackling "Dream2" brings you out of the black and into more of TRANSMISSION0's swirling, uneasy dynamics (think PINK FLOYD's "One of These Days" as filtered through THE CURE's "Fascination Street" — heady stuff). Don't get too comfortable there, though — TODAY IS THE DAY madman Steve Austin is lurking in "Damn Machines" with an anguished guest vocal, full of wounded rage amid the cascading guitars.
It's easy enough to recommend TRANSMISSION0 to fans of any of the bands mentioned above. But with their blend of depression, metallic fury and subtlety, this band is poised to rise above their influences, and most of their peers as well. "Memory of a Dream" is a colossal fucking album, a monument to the sheer force of decibels delivered with conviction, and its blasted soundscapes will provide the adventurous listener with many dark travels, long after this genre's pretenders have hung up their too-clever band names and moved on to the next fad.