DREAM UNENDING – Tide Turns Eternal (2021)REVIEW

From wicket spikes to α-waves the first seep into the swells of ‘Tide Turns Eternal‘ found me preparing to mourn the thrill of its serendipitous enlightenment in waves, relishing the connection made with its conversational existential poetics. The ‘knowing’ dread of how it’d evolve in mind, the anticipation of a slow and tragic drift away — This anxiety for the fleeting nature of pleasure, happiness, and all separation from the ruinous ‘self’ is most often a personal acknowledgement rather than a direct notion derived from engagement with emotionally driven art. Coming to terms with this dread by way of the experience itself — An hallucinatory basin of reflection upon spirituality, impermanence and perseverance, has been an unexpected result to say the least. Some of life’s biggest questions find answers and the multitudinous unknown is a sight within reach on this debut album from Dream Unending, a years-ruminated goal and borderless conjure from Derrick Vella (Tomb Mold) and Justin DeTore (Solemn Lament, Innumerable Forms). In passing from storm to shimmering assurance without wallowing or preaching what is dealt within its crystalline fever-dreamed realization smartly avoids plain sub-genre entry status by way of a brilliant showcase for the malleable nature of extreme doom metal form and function.

There is nothing typical about earnest, emotionally connective and beauteous heavy music when the ear is well-attuned and the mind is prone to skepticism. The key qualifier implied being an intentional connection made with the listener. The magick ratio of music that truly endures beyond whatever time and place it lands concerns its craft with not only what the artist intends to express from deep within their tormented soul but also how it speaks to the individual (read: the “listener”) in their private contemplation of the human condition. For this concoction of “for me/unto you all” to work said music need only be perceived as sincere by thee engaged but, nonetheless it must be a manifestation of existential communication. Good music first forces us inward, inside the mind to begin to reconsider, or, reassess our place in the world. Truly transcendent music acts as a prism upon the usual annals of bargained reasoning once we are within the ‘self’, angling the entire spectrum of options before us unto one grand kaleidoscopic image and this is where Dream Unending have tapped into the ideal ratio of vulnerability for the artist ‘self’ and accessibility of forms to reach their fellow lost souls.

In roaring action ‘Tide Turns Eternal’ is instinctively readable as lush atmospheric death/doom metal with major rhythmic forms taking some inspiration from the greater revelations of Anathema, the eerie dissociative scrawling of Disembowelment, and the epic robustness of Ahab yet if we stopped there the “metal bubble” might be occluding the well-trained ear. In shaping their greater presentation Dream Unending find some profound sophistication by way of their incorporation of progressive rock, indie rock (jokingly referring to themselves as “The (Death metal) Postal Service“), and classic heavy rock guitar techniques alongside a love for the communicative “enlightened” nature of late 70’s/early 80’s singer-songwriters. That should not indicate that you’ll find surface-level references within but guitar work that is tuned towards the revelatory intimacy ranging from Floyd to Cynic and presented with the muscle of melodic death/doom metal heaviness. This includes heavy use of 12-string guitars, fretless bass, ocean-sloshing guitar effects, and a sopping bucket of reverb from all angles. All of this could’ve amounted to window dressing if these were bells n’ whistles but the structure of these pieces amounts to more than smoke-and-mirrors gilding upon classicist early 90’s melodic death/doom rhythms.

When the bigger picture comes so will the weight of the details. — It’d been about two weeks between full listens of ‘Tide Turns Eternal’ when the combined effect of “Entrance” and “Adorned in Lies” struck me with a lump in the throat, a welling-up as my mind flexed under the weight of this grand entrance and what it might convey. It wasn’t as if a certain touch of nostalgia hadn’t already occurred to me, think of how it felt when you’d first experienced the combination of “Seven Dreaming Souls” and “Gateways of Bereavement“, even if these pieces are nearly the antithesis in sensation and founded well beyond the state of tangential stylistic associations the moment itself is connective, surreal, and almost outrageously different than the usual atmospheric and melodic death/doom fare. Why the emotional response, then? There is nothing else like ‘Tide Turns Eternal’ and rejoining myself with the experience brought similar relief upon returning to it, cracking into the lyrics, and re-discovering a journey I’d needed then, now, and again.

Beyond this point the first preview track on offer, “In Cipher I Weep“, is the obvious piece to showcase up front, a best foot forward that speaks to just how much of a doom metal -and- death metal record ‘Tide Turns Eternal’ is. The fretless bass prowl and lead guitar triangulation of Vella feeds us to the chasm of infinite peristalsis that kicks the piece off before Justin DeTore‘s imposing vocals provide the dark plunge into the heart of the album’s action. The chiming guitar tones and cathedralesque organ offer a grand, beauteous encircling of the untamable beast as the brood of this piece’s verses soon reaches for a soaring guitar solo ~five minutes in. I don’t know that this piece reads well enough as a shored-up play by play on my part but the effect is certainly not your standard “romantic” or gothic death/doom metal piece nor are they bothering with the usual post-rock dawdling technique of many modern bands; You’ll get my meaning once the double-bass ride out kicks into the psychedelic whorl of the song’s end.

This shipwreck upon a crystal shore aims to enrich and has the potential to empower as we wade and wander through the warming sensation of its completion. What feels like doom’s encroach upon the senses, a drowning palace of glass-shattering tone and lysergic spiral-eyed visions, is not kin to the gothic tragedian fare one might associate with a lineage of melodic death/doom metal’s purpose and key resonance. Instead of wallowing into a catatonic state of depression the full listen conveys passage into realization and resolve beyond a storm of traumatic descent. What is broken, is broken and acknowledged as such yet even before the sustained apex of Side B has reared itself ‘Tide Turns Eternal’ already speaks to greater personal resolve. The payoff for the larger hook of “The Needful“, which develops beyond about ~1:50 minutes, most specifically speaks to this notion of what the early ‘Peaceville three’ did best (see also: Paradise Lost ‘Gothic’), taking several minutes to build its melodic statement then striking just a few chords to nail the landing. The expansion of this format is simple yet effective in positing a pilgrimage as we cling to the smaller details therein, such as screaming build of the alien solo at ~4 minutes in. Even if the lyrics aren’t of interest the balance of doom metal precedence and a personal touch upon it ensure that this is Dream Unending‘s own statement and a major transitional point in the progression of mood within the full listen.

“Dream Unending” is the point of greater merger between the seeker and the pivotal realization within, and well… also presents an argument that even at the album’s loftiest peaks still packs a few big riffs. The first portion of the song speaks to Ahab-esque clean guitar framing, perhaps the only part of the album that directly touches upon a similarly watery, florid tone while also striking a bit of the ‘pure doom metal meets funeral death/doom metal’ severity. Those first four minutes engage the long-ago embedded ‘Transcendence into the Peripheral’ (alternately, early Evoken) part of my brain more than anything else, at least until the lucid-dreaming spoken poem beyond gives us some of the answers our protagonists seek. “…we draw from the same lung. We keep ourselves a secret from ourselves, but we are one…” is enough of a thought to launch me into parsing my own meaning therein but, it only makes sense to wait for the lyrics and the physical item in hand to derive meaning beyond the thus far gleaned thread. The title track and grand finale is likewise yours to discover on your own, again the biggest picture on offer here is so much sweeter without complete guidance and the music itself is more than captivating enough to take you all the way there and back in waves.

Between the variety of guitar tones available, nerding over effects pedals, the illustrative use of melody throughout in conjunction with a patient tempo map, the cinematic presentation of the running order, and the high contrast wonder of the album art (via Matt Jaffe) there are too many points to make and too many details to fawn over in this case. This flood of interest on my part speaks to the longevity of the ‘Tide Turns Eternal’ itself — The layers aren’t so hard to grasp and peel away but you might find yourself enjoying the process in slow reveal, a pleasurably taxing death/doom metal album rather than the usual emotional brutality which’d require sorrowful mood to enjoy. Whether you connect with the album on a similar way as I have is up to fate but I’d nonetheless make the case that there isn’t another album released in 2021 thus far that sounds like Dream Unending‘s debut and certainly nothing that so ambitiously shirks the usual, normative fare modern death/doom metal has to offer. Highest recommendation.

Highest recommendation. (100/100)

Rating: 10 out of 10.
TITLE:Tide Turns Eternal
LABEL(S):20 Buck Spin
RELEASE DATE:November 19th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Death/Doom Metal,
Melodic Death/Doom Metal,
Progressive Doom Metal

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