Dream On Dreamer

Songs Of Solitude

Written by: TL on 09/12/2015 12:59:30

Considering how many bands in metalcore and the surrounding genre landscape that emerge and get stuck with a generic and rigid clean/scream style, it is always a relief to hear bands showing signs of moving beyond that, towards finding a personal approach with more nuance and potential. Case in point, the Australian's in Dream On Dreamer prove on their newest album "Songs Of Solitude", that neither the growing interest around them in the metal- and post-hardcore scenes, nor their carefully defined visual aesthetic, is without foundation in an increasingly refined musical talent.

Compared to their previous albums, "Songs Of Solitude" takes both the band's heavy and melodic components and regroups them in an atmosphere that is less stereotypical in sound, more gritty and atmospheric. The opener "Souls On Fire" sounds a lot like something that could have been on one of the bigger, later Underoath albums, with the way the rhythms of Callan Orr and Zachary Britt's abrasive guitar parts complement that of Marcel Gadacz's growled vocals. There's a similar feeling of desperation and peril here, and with Britt's clean vocals coming off more grounded and mature than ever before, his and Gadacz's back and forth also thoroughly reminds of Spencer Chamberlain and Aaron Gillespie.

The album thus gets off to a promising start, and although "Souls On Fire" and "Vertigo" do most to establish how immersive and atmospheric the production on "Songs Of Solitude" is, they are perhaps a bit on and off as individual songs, where some parts are impactful but you don't really get a sense for either as a wholesome composition. The clean/scream/spoken vocal balance is kept nice and unpredictable, however, and while "Souls On Fire" makes a good mark with the spoken "I met a man in my head, he said he's not ready to die just yet", "Vertigo" delivers the album's first bonafide chorus in the melodic "There's no rest for the wicked, but that's what the evil say".

The album punches the hardest, however, in the stretch from track three to five, starting with the highlight "Society To Anxiety", which is instantly recognisable due to the verse combination of scratched singing and a rising, chiming guitar bit. There's a vibe here that's reminiscent of the later, catchier Bring Me The Horizon material, yet Gadacz keeps the lyrics firmly locked right there in the moment of frustration, grappling with himself and trying to find that small spark of faith to cast light on a way up. Here you get the feeling of a song that works through and through, anchored once more by a memorable spoken word bit towards the end: "It's only pain when it hurts / It's only night when it's black / The only thing you'll love is lost / And the light pulls you back".

"Malice" follows and brings back the abrasive Underoath-ish guitar patterns in the verse, while the Bring Me-esque ambiance keeps howling in the background, and there's a melodic chorus here that's the kind of thing that fans of Being As An Ocean or classic Alexisonfire material will probably love to sing along to amidst the otherwise rampant harshness. "Snowpiercer" then comes around, flipping the script by delivering a much more linear composition, soulfully sung and opened with very sparse guitar notes. It's the kind of song that's completely atypical for the band's normal sound, yet fits the album as a change of pace and figures to become a clear fan favourite in the future.

Listening through the later half of the album, "Songs Of Solitude" generally continues to show good elements, although the impression recedes to one similar to the one had during the opening duo. The album clearly feels like the band has intentionally refined their songs to consist only of the most well-working and coherent parts, yet while tunes like "Snowpiercer" and "Society To Anxiety" have benefitted greatly from this, later ones, like "Delirium", flash some good ideas but feel like they could've been fleshed out a bit more. The atmosphere remains intact, but the movement is a bit simple and quickly finished. Similarly, "Open Sun" floats around for a while, feeling like a light-weight version of what the band is capable of, before finally opening up with a more directly aggressive part towards the end.

The overall impression of "Songs Of Solitude" then, is that it is a little stretched, even at compact ten tracks. Dream On Dreamer still deserves heaps of respect, though, for refining their sound to a much more mature and nuanced point than ever before, and for building a thoroughly immersive production on this record. They simply could do with stronger songs across the board. As it is, you can still definitely enjoy "Songs Of Solitude" without skipping anything, but three or four of the tracks stand out above the rest and seem worth coming back to down the stretch.

Download: Society To Anxiety, Snowpiercer, Malice
For The Fans Of: Underoath, Bring Me The Horizon, Alexisonfire, Being As An Ocean
Listen: facebook.com/dreamondreamerband

Release date 13.11.2015

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