RETRO TUESDAYS: Dream Death – Journey Into Mystery (1987)

Back in 2004 on my eternal quest to listen to every single thrash metal album released from 1983 til 1993 I was digging through a friend’s music and happened upon a CD copy of New Renaissance‘s reissue and made a copy because it just ‘looked’ like a bad-ass metal album. He said it was brutal thrash and had a singer like Rigor Mortis but by the time I was spinning it on my Creative Zen Xtra Nomad Jukebox HD mp3 player, I was already putting panda makeup on and doing Tom G. Warrior poses. I mean the most obvious comparison a young dip-shit could make at face value is Celtic Frost. Clearly the riffs on songs like “Back From the Dead” and “The Elder Race” belonged on the follow up to ‘To Mega Therion’.

Comparisons to inspiration aside, the genius of Dream Death lies in the refinement of the riff alongside the proto-sludge metal shouted agony of Brian Lawrence, who eventually revived the band back in 2011. Lawrence’s dark, honest lyrics and desperate shout embodied everything inspirational about early extreme metal variations. His gravely outbursts alongside a twisted form of doom influenced thrash metal siphoned the gnarled extremity of bands like Slaughter and Repulsion and made that aggression far more listenable.

Death metal bands like Obituary and Pentacle bow to Celtic Frost eternally but the bones of variations they produced under the influence of the frosted ones actually tended to resemble the riffing found on ‘Journey Into Mystery’. It is a sludge-like experience employed in similar fashion to Eyehategod in terms of time changes and pacing along with surprises mapped out amongst the repetition. You’ll really get none of the operatic pomp of Celtic Frost but something more ‘street’-level and passionate in ‘Journey Into Mystery’. For my taste it has long been a perfect 45 minute metal album that lives and dies by it’s riffing and songwriting. Because the album is a banged out set of riffs that ultimately structure everything, the band put a lot of care into the flow of ideas. From the churn of “Black Edifice” giving way to the punkish into to “Divine In Agony” and the wheezing Black Flag-like sludge of “Sealed in Blood” setting up for the brilliant closer “Dream Death” it is an album that subverts its sameness with clever tracklist arrangement, an art completely lost to many independent bands of today.

At this point ‘Journey Into Mystery’ has had about fifteen years to position itself in the hierarchy of important metal albums that shaped my taste in heavy metal and extreme metal. Not only does it have the appeal of being a lesser known gem amidst a lot of generic thrash put out in the late 80’s but it gloms together doom metal, proto-sludge, and thrash ideas into something very few bands were willing to touch at the time. Yes, the Celtic Frost influences are totally worth pointing out but I’ve grown to appreciate this record slightly more than ‘To Mega Therion’ for its lack of filler and scarcity of pomp. Of course the band broke up after this record and would soon put out the first Penance album with much of the same line-up including Lawrence on vocals. It is a very bleak and heavy doom metal record that is more or less a continuation of what the band was doing in Dream Death.


Artist Dream Death
Type Album
Released October 16th, 1987
BUY the LP or Listen on Spotify  Follow Dream Death on Facebook
Thrash Metal, Doom Metal, Speed Metal

Chaos prevails, living in a dying hell. 5.0/5.0


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