Release DetailsLABEL Say It In Blood Records
RELEASED ON 6/6/2006
Dreams of Damnation
Epic Tales of Vengeance
posted on 5/2006 By:
Old habits die hard. For those of us over the age of 30 who have been followers of the metal scene for more than 10 years, we are well aware of the importance of Dark Angel as they relate to penultimate thrash metal. If you don’t respect Dark Angel, you pose, plain and simple. Likewise, if you don’t respect the individual members that formed that legendary outfit in addition to the obviously massively popular Gene Hoglan, then you also pose. And while Gene may be the most well-known member of the band, keep in mind it’s guitarist Jim Durkin who was also a major driving force behind the band for quite a while. I was thoroughly impressed with the Dreams Of Damnation debut EP Let The Violence Begin in 2000, and was even more enthused to have the opportunity to give Epic Tales Of Vengeance a seriously focused listen on a number of different personal & professional levels.
Let’s address the sexist crap right away. Not so long ago, the mere mention of a woman’s involvement in more extreme forms of metal was met with a chauvinistic sneer from many male, as well as female, metal fans. I’ll give Angela Gossow her props, but I’d also be remiss if I didn’t also do so with Arianne Fleury of Augury, Kristen Parker of Wetwork, and now with Loana dP Valencia, the alkaline voice of Dreams Of Damnation. So caustic and corroding is her tone and manner that I would suggest even black metal fans to take notice of the blistering performance Loana unleashes on the lacerating, high-octane "New Flesh". I’d like to hear a man match that ferocity, and not only is Loana a vocal powerhouse, her singing is devoid of studio overcompensation, sounding fresh, natural, and utterly rancorous without the irritation of digitalized airbrushing. No worries there.
I was a bit concerned for Jim Durkin the first time I’d heard of this project, but my fears were flatly laid to rest upon hearing the promise of the debut EP, and continue to be cast away while listening to this album. Things begin seductively, pensively unfurling "Crimson Vengeance" through a tapestry of vaporously smooth non-Western melodies and slow guitar build before the classic thrashing thunder of "Kill For Peace" makes it’s presence known with airtight galloping staccato, snapping-like-twigs snare pummeling, and of course, the snarling abrasion of Loana’s depraved vocals. I especially liked Miguel Moran’s intricate cymbal accents which tip the riffs during the bridge just before the wailing solo erupts, things like this separate stock from superiority, and it didn’t go unnoticed.
The rest of the band are certainly worthy of mention, as this twin-guitar attack features rhythm guitarist Rick Alsup adding to the mix with unerringly precise and ballsy attitude, and many times you can pick out bassist Matt Arner throwing in bits of dissonant, almost funky pieces of understated rhythmic embellishments. And the music, it sounds crisp, current, and bereft of trendy leanings without sounding dated or procured. Durkin injects a fair amount of flash into his solos without getting carried away, and his sense of inertia while melding his solos within each song’s framework is expertly executed. The flirting of blastbeats and positively raging, swarming tremolo of ‘Patricide’, and closing number "Eaters Of The Dead" is easily on par with the most violent moments of the new Dismember CD.
While no re-invention of the wheel, Epic Tales Of Vengeance is a bit of a mini-masterpiece. The only thing I can think of to say negatively would be concerning both the abbreviated song lengths, as well as the very short tracklisting of merely 7 songs, the first of which is a barely 2-minute instrumental. Other than that, Dreams Of Damnation have just cut loose with one hell of a scathing disc. A mix of brutalizing technicality and balls-out fury, this album brings the old school and new school together into one blisteringly compact package. On a professional level, I found Epic Tales Of Vengeance to sound valid and authentic, and personally, I think it just rips ass seven ways from Sunday. Sturdy musicianship, songwriting expertise, ballistic drive, beware those who take this band lightly.
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