Album Review: Dream Unending – Song of Salvation

Album Review: Dream Unending - Song of Salvation
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Dream Unending. Now there’s a name that has become one of my personal favourites very quickly, and very recently. Formed only a year ago, boasting members across the United States and Canada, most famously Innumerable Forms’ Justin DeTore and Tomb Mold’s Derrick Vella, Dream Unending released their first studio work, Tide Turns Eternal, almost immediately after officially forming. Tide Turns Eternal was, out of the gate, universally praised for its ethereal and simply different approach to death metal. It wasn’t this meteoric, bombastic introduction to the band, but something foretelling an unusual yet welcome experience for many death metal fanatics such as myself. It’s why, upon this album’s announcement and availability, I effectively jumped at the opportunity to review this opus. If Song Of Salvation is even half the quality that Tide Turns Eternal possessed, then I’m very confident with what Dream Unending can deliver. Can this band pull off a masterpiece twice over? Let’s find out.

It’s pretty courageous for Dream Unending to open out their record with what is, up to this point, their longest song to dateand all the more so when we realise it isn’t the longest song on the record in general, it’s especially courageous for the band knowing their style of songwriting isn’t to perpetually throw swathes of annihilation your way but rather, immerse us within a cerebral albeit melancholic soundscape. If there’s one thing we now understand Dream Unending can deliver on, it’s the balance between the tranquil and vicious. The band may have those serene undertones flowing throughout the full duration of the record, but it’s often accompanied by the stronger, more powerful riffs laid directly over them. It’s certainly unique as, typically, a band would have these two sections separate from one another thereby giving said band the reason to invest unique sections into their songwriting which can be then be deemed as diversity. Dream Unending therefore, make their own job harder for themselves by deliberately fusing the two aesthetics together but, it’s now something we can recognise outright as signature Dream Unending songwriting.

Juxtaposed against that, we then have the vocal performance. While the songwriting is the mellowed and ethereal beast we’ve seen before, the vocals are standing out a little stronger than what I heard on their debut album. Laid against the backdrop of eerie and atmospheric death metal riffs, the vocals come forth with sharper alacrity and a punch that only feels more refined and clenched for us to receive. If the band were really experimenting to see what they could create on their first record, then this second offering is really where they’re getting a better idea as to how this sound can work more effectively. It’s throughout the vocals where we see this play out most effectively; they offer a deep eminence and truly stand out but their power isn’t so complete that they overpower the songwriting which, in the context of what Dream Unending set out to accomplish, would have completely rendered the band’s efforts as null.

Album Review: Dream Unending - Song of Salvation

One thing which I think Dream Unending have got down absolutely perfectly with Song Of Salvation, is the pacing. Granted, there are only five tracks to be experienced here and a little over 40 minutes to occupy you; do the band therefore turn these into slugfests of power where they batted and hold you prisoner while their assault takes place? No, they do not. Listening to this album is like wading through honey; it’s got this otherworldly aesthetic to it and while you can feel yourself transfixed in your surroundings it’s not as if the band are holding you against your will. It’s an oddly calming experience all the while fully acknowledging the devastating might Dream Unending are capable of, and willingly dish out as you offer yourself to be held down amidst the band’s flurries. As we’ve seen prior, the band open up with their a 14 minute epic that flows like a breeze; there’s no rapid fire movement to it, no race nor rush to see you through from start to finish. The band legitimately take their time and absolutely immerse you within everything they have to offer you. This is an instance of a band that know full well what they have in store and ensured you didn’t miss a thing.

If there’s something else that Dream Unending have become, in my eyes, a leading force of, it’s experimentation. Throughout the course of their sound, people will come to see that Dream Unending aren’t so experimental that they’ll turn away more casual fans, yet there’s a certain edge of experimentation going on here that elevates the band above the rank and file of those who claim to be on those similar planes. It isn’t so experimental that one can dub the band as avant-garde, that’s another thing entirely, but there’s enough going on here to be equally dissected and enjoyed that fans may recognise Dream Unending’s songwriting as genuinely unique. The incorporation of brass sections, saxophones, piano, horns etc is done in such a way that it feels like a wholly realised purpose of the band’s plans for this album, not simply some superficial bragging right of what they managed ti cram into their record. It speaks of the time and planning and writing that went into this album to not only give each element exact purpose, but to render them with the spotlight necessary for them to stand out and be remembered.

In conclusion, I am now convinced that Dream Unending could brazenly announce an 80 minute album and I’d have no issue or trepidation with that whatsoever. Bookmarking the opening and ending of Song Of Salvation with massive opuses only cements that notion as the band detail a clear understanding of how to keep us engaged totally without a single blast beat, breakneck paced track or major assault upon our senses. As they did so with Tide Turns Eternal, Dream Unending have passed with flying colours the trials that a follow up album often brings with it, and following up a universally acclaimed album no less either. It’s such a joy to experience this album knowing that you’re given the freedom to take your time and simply savour all that the band have prepped for you. There’s no rush or race to get you to the end as the band want you thoroughly enjoy the journey, as opposed to pining for the destination ahead. Song Of Salvation isn’t simply a continuation of the ideas that Tide Turns Eternal put forth, but rather a definitive declaration that Dream Unending are now a legitimate force in death metal that aren’t to be taken lightly. The band are here to stay and they deserve nothing less. I, for one, am deeply ecstatic over this.

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