Hailing from Los Angeles, Dreaming Dead seems poised to make a mark on the extreme-metal scene. Their debut album, Within One, which was released in early 2009 on Ibex Moon Records, contains in its eight songs nearly 43-minutes of blackened, melodic, death/thrash metal.
Phew, that is a lot of genres for one band, but it seems like this is the direction in which we are headed. It used to be enough for a band to find their identity within one genre, but it appears that more and more bands must form some sort of crossover, bending multiple genres together into one (sometimes) impressive mix. Some bands nail it while others appear lost at sea as their identity is swallowed by their attempt to broaden their appeal. Dreaming Dead has an idea of where they want to go, and this album shows them well on their way to achieving their goal.
Dreaming Dead effortlessly shifts through their catalog of influences, never slowing down to get pinned into any one subgenre. At one moment they're black, another thrash, then death, and then they slide in some nice melodic work before transitioning into some combination of the above. If you want to saddle them with any one label, I suggest "metal" as it will be the easiest to remember and the most accurate when not wanting to leave anything out.
Each song is carefully constructed to blend their influences together as they play with song composition. They do not fall into the trap of repeating themselves, like the sort of bands that key in on one particular structure and repeat it for the entire album. Dreaming Dead mixes it up quite nicely. I can tell you that I never get bored listening to them.
However, while they definitely have a knack for songwriting—as the seeds for excellence are there—you can still sense they have a ways to go before reaching their full potential. You will note influences such as Arch Enemy, Opeth, and Death strewn throughout; and with influences like those, you have a good head start.
Elizabeth Schall founded the band and handles all of the guitar and vocal duties. I also suspect that she is the primary songwriter. Her vocals primarily fall in the high-pitched growl, which will likely draw comparisons to Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy. The comparison is somewhat appropriate, but I find that she sounds more like Chuck Schuldiner (RIP) of Death, and in particular I am reminded of his work on Symbolic. It is not quite as strong as Chuck's work, but she throws all of her weight behind it.
Schall is also an accomplished guitarist, laying down some fast and furious, thrashy riffs before switching into melodic mode. She has a good sound that stands out — equally adept on both sides of the coin, not to mention some nice atmospheric work throughout. If anything, my biggest complaint regarding the guitars is that they could use a second player, or at least a second track. The overall sound comes across as a little thin and the bass is almost nonexistent. Actually, I'm not sure I can hear the bass at all. Drums are also quite solid, tight and driving, exactly what is needed for the style.
Bottomline. Dreaming Dead is a band to keep an eye on. Schall has the skills to take them to the next level. I mean, this is a solid album with a couple of flaws; they are well within reach of taking that next step. However, do not feel you need to wait for that next step; do yourself a favor and give this a spin.