Dreamscape - Very


Year of Release: 1998
Label: Rising Sun
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:23:00

A couple of years ago, Dreamscape released Trance-like State only to receive a warm welcome from the prog metal world, due in part to complaints of "too Dream Theater," or "the singer is too weak or too accented." Well, Dreamscape is back, with a killer disc that should at least put them on the prog metal map and catch many an ear with their new release called Very. Overall, for those who didn't like Trance-like State probably won't like Very either, as those same DT-ish influences are present; but then again, name a band who doesn't have some sort of influence from early prog metal bands. The difference this time out is that the band has changed singers, upgraded their sound, and are writing better songs. All of the lineup are back, including Wolfgang Kerinnis, the guitarist and main song writer on Trance-like State who at least caught some recognition from that disc.

In a prog metal world where some bands are getting praise for their work who actually are influenced by DT, it will be interesting to see how this band fares for putting out a killer disc and is still influenced by DT as well.

THE STYLE:

Very is in some ways like Trance-like State in the song structures, but this time out, there are more hooks, more keyboards, more crunch, and tons more melodies. It does appear that the band has opted to put an emphasis on beauty while trying to maintain their sense of heaviness and catchiness, while still writing very progressive music. While you listen to Very, you can almost hear the calculated changes that the band has made since their last outing, and it's great to hear bands moving up and onward with their writing and sound skills, much in the same way we've all glowed at bands like Vanden Plas and Edguy and Rhapsody, who just amaze us with their gift of being able to top something already great and moving forward with their skills while maintaining their own signature sound. Dreamscape has done the same here - picking up where they left off, listening to their music and trying to move forward while keeping their own identity sound, which they have certainly achieved. Paying homage to Vanden Plas and Superior in the sound and song structures, ( and who do those bands pay homage to ), the songs are filled with beauty, catchy but progressive riffs, surrounded by keyboards, and yet somehow managing to maintain their sense of heaviness and crunch that lots of prog metal fans require and love in their music. I'd even go on to say that if Vanden Plas had written this disc as a follow up to The God Thing, it would have been accepted and loved by all VP fans and most melodic prog metal fans as well.

The Dreamscape base sound is driven by the crunchy, almost early Tad Morose guitar sound of Wolfgang Kerinnis, who loves those odd timed, crunching rhythm chords that offset the normal time flow of the song. Surrounded by beautiful and thick keyboards, which remind me a lot of how Ivanhoe used to sound circa Symbols of Time, the band has achieved that perfect blend of melody, warmth, heaviness and progression that keep fans of this style coming back for more. Songs like "Thorn In My Mind", "Winter Dreams" and "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" really exemplify what this band is all about. They've headed into a more symphonic sound as well, and it seems as though the keyboard player wants to make his statement as well this time out, and I'm certainly listening to what this guy has to say.

I'm convinced that the band has always sought a more laid back, soft, "pretty" voiced singer who liked to almost whisper some of the words to the songs to give them more beauty and emotion. With their original singer, Tobi Zoltan, who sang in this style but was very accented, they achieved that separation between heavy music and soft vocal lines which is what I believe this band is all about. On Very, the same result has been achieved; to find a soft, laid back, "pretty" voiced singer who will add beauty and emotion to the lyrics while the heavy music makes it's statement in contrast. If you think about what Angra is all about, then you have an idea what Dreamscape is trying to achieve. While the Angra music is fast, symphonic and heavy, Andre Matos adds a sense of beauty and range to the lyrics rather than try to out power the music. With Dreamscape, you're getting the same affect, in which the soft, emotional voice of the singer is in direct contrast to the heavy, crunchy, symphonic music.

On the writing side, it appears that the writing chores are being split up amongst the band now, whereas on the first disc, Wolfgang Kerinnis did most of the writing. Here on Very, the band is credited with the writing. This may account for the added symphonic sound and the added emphasis on beauty.

THE BAND:

As stated, the band is back with all of their Trance-like State lineup except for Tobi Zoltan, their singer.

Wolfgang Kerinnis / Guitars
Benno Schmidtler / Bass
Bernhard Huber / Drums
Jan Vacik / Keyboards
Hubi Meisel / Vocals

Wolfgang Kerinnis - back when Trance-like State was released, I said that there was a new sheriff in town, and that his name was Wolfgang Kerinnis. The sheriff is back, and it's interesting to be getting questions from hopeful buyers asking whether or not Wolfgang is still playing guitar on this disc. The answer is a resounding YES; and he's back with a vengeance as well. Paying homage to his German counterpart from Vanden Plas, Stephan Lill, Wolfgang is hell bent on producing a CRUNCH for his base sound, while creating a very progressive and melodic base at the same time. As you listen to his sometimes off-beat rhythm chugs, you can hear him adding in some soft, atmospheric pluckings to complement himself. The guy is not satisfied with just chugging along hammering out power chords and ripping out solos (which he does superbly), but it appears that he wants to be part of this beautiful sound as well, and certainly injects enough warmth into his playing to make it all happen.

Benno Schmidtler & Bernhard Huber - holding down the bottom end and holding it down heavily I might add. I'm glad that someone thought to bring out the bass sound on this disc, and Benno's bass parts can easily be heard now (due to an outstanding production I might add) and he keeps up with Wolfgang with ease while at the same time trying to match the fiery drumming of Huber. Huber on the other hand, is not just another ordinary drummer. He is also making a statement in the prog world, and although I don't normally don't notice the drumming styles in prog music, due to the fact that I think they're all good to be playing this style of music, I did take much note of the fact that Huber's playing is all over the place and he is totally branching out from becoming just another drummer. The music calls for him to do some Portnoy-type fireworks, and this he does with ease and passion.

Jan Vacik - my love of keyboards in prog metal is no secret, and although Jan Vacik was instrumental in the atmospheric Trance-like State sound, he has now been upgraded to essential and plays a big part in creating the beauty that the band thrives on. This time out, Jan wants to make his statement as well, and some keyboard solos are starting to pop up at every turn here as well as a huge wall of sound that makes bands like Ivanhoe stand out. It does sound like Jan has gone out and bought himself an orchestra to back his sound, as he uses everything from synth sounds, to pianos, to strings, to just about anything he can do to add beauty and grace to this already majestic sound. Essentially, he's about ten-fold the sound he was on Trance-like State, and I for one as happy that someone in the Dreamscape camp decided to make the sound even bigger this time out.

Hubi Meisel - From what I am reading in other reviews about the new Dreamscape disc, other than the DT influences, it's mostly about Hubi Meisel and how laid back and soft his voice is for the Dreamscape music. I'm convinced that the band intentionally wants their singers to offset the music. Like Tobi Zoltan, the previous singer, Hubi has a soft, quiet, emotional voice that almost sounds like he is whispering at times. This adds a soft, plush feel to the lyrics, while the heavy, progressive Dreamscape music pulses around his voice. To describe his voice, I'd have to say it's a strange combination of Geddy Lee, Andre Matos, and Andy Kuntz, if that makes any sense. What I hear is the range and tone of Geddy Lee, mixed in with some Matos tones, along with the aggression of Kuntz when he rarely becomes aggressive. No doubt, to those looking for a "powerful" singer like Tangermann, or Kuntz, or one of the more stronger voiced singers, Hubi won't do your ears justice. In the emotion and beauty dept, which is why I believe he is aboard, he can't be beat. His soft, almost whisper-like, feminine approach to the heavy music presents a dynamic contrast in what the musicians are trying to accomplish versus what they are trying to say lyrically. In the long run, it works, and it works well. If you try to separate the voice aspect of a band versus the musical aspect and their goals, you'll have no problem accepting and understanding what Hubi is all about. This guy can tell a story.

THE PRODUCTION:

I had heard that Trance-like State was recorded in Wolfgang Kerinnis' basement studio, and that disc sounded great back then. Wolfganag Kerinnis and Benno Scmidtler had the hand in the production process, and it appeared that Wolfgang was probably responsible for most of the sound that made up the Trance-like State disc. Here, it looks like Wolfgang has teamed up with keyboardist Jan Vacik and have come up with even a better sound this time out. The disc states that it was recorded at Dreamscape studios in Munich, Germany, and whether or not that means someone's basement makes no difference when you achieve great sound like this. Jan Vacik seems to have come into his own on this disc, producing not only great keyboard parts on the disc, but also being credited with the recording and mixing of Very. This sounds like a brilliant German recording usually does; clean, crisp, precise, separate, and thick. From a band that only has 1 disc behind their name, I get the feeling that this disc meant something as a challenge or a statement to be made, and do that they did, in every aspect of this disc including the sound.

The separation on this disc is superb, and I get a thrill when I'm standing on one side of my stereo and I can hear some keyboard parts or guitar parts coming from the opposite end of the room. If you're looking for crunch and thud, this disc is loaded. my subwoofer was ecstatic when I dumped this disc's sound into it, and immediately my room walls became involved as well. The guitar / bass mixing is damn near perfect, in that while both are heavy and thundering, I can still hear the bass guitar chugging along side of the guitar sound separately. The drums, once again, stand out in the Dreamscape production. Even on Trance-like State, the drum sound stood out to my ears; but on Very, the cleanliness and precision of the drum sound is incredible. This is one of those times you don't have to wonder how a drummer sets up his equipment as you can easily hear each time Huber moves from piece to piece because it's quite easy to hear when he moves from his high hat to his crash cymbal and where it seems to be placed on the kit. This is one sensitive recording. In the end, and maybe because Jan Vacik mixed this wonder, the keyboards are where it's at for me sound wise. This is symphonic bliss, and this is how I'd like all keyboarded prog metal bands to sound in their keyboard dept no matter what their role in the music. This is what a wall of sound and atmosphere means to me. When one speaks of walls of sound, they are now referring to the keyboarded sound of Dreamscape. Never overbearing, but always a factor in the sound, Jan Vacik has the formula down to a science on how to make a ton of keyboards fill in a prog metal disc to the max without it becoming overbearing. I tip my hat off to this guy and anyone still trying to figure out how to incorporate so many sounds into one disc without it becoming muddied or dominating should contact Jan Vacik.

The vocals, soft and laid back as they are, are in the mix perfectly, although like many, I do find myself wishing that Hubi Meisel would let it rip once or twice just for grunts. "Thorn In My Mind" is about the only place you'll find him heading into aggressive territory and you'll at least know what he can do in that area. To have a voice this soft and be placed in a thunderous mix without becoming lost is another feat of skills I found to be amazing. Jan's got Hubi right where a singer should be, right up front. Put this disc on with headphones for a truly amazing experience.

THE COMMENTS:

I have to say that as of this writing, Dreamscape's Very is the prog metal disc of 1999 for me personally. This is about what melodic, progressive metal means to me; beauty, emotion, progression, superb playing, walls of keyboards, great lyrics, and anything else you can add to a list of what is required to make you proud to be a lover of prog metal. This is 60 minutes of beautiful prog metal folks, hands down. For those of you who are wary to purchase, and always with good reason, seek out the 16-minute, "Panterei" trilogy when asking for samples, along with "Thorn In My Mind," and "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes," the beautiful bonus track. These songs will give you a perfect idea if what this band is all about. Without a doubt, if you like bands like Vanden Plas, Superior, and other bands that have that DT influence, but create their own sound and beauty, you'll like Dreamscape. The band has been covered by obscurity for a couple of years, waiting to pounce on the prog metal world unexpectedly and make a statement. Well, Very is their statement, and obscurity will become a thing of the past for this band in 1999 and look for them to start showing up regularly in the prog metal world.

There is always a few bands that really excite the hell out of me every year that goes by in the progressive music world, and Dreamscape has started out the year with a bang for me. Unfortunately, when opening up the year with a bang can be easily forgotten as the year goes on and other bands release their music, but I think it's safe to say that when a band releases a killer disc like this, it's not one to be easily put aside and forgotten. Easily, this disc exemplifies what progressive metal means to me as a whole.


Tracklisting:
When Shadows Are Gone (4:45) / Lost Faith (1:05) / Thorn In My Mind (5:28) / Reborn (4:32) / A Voice Inside (5:36) / Winter Dreams (5:59) / Fearing The Daylight (4:56) / I Leave The Past Behind (7:25) / Alone - Panterei Part I (4:30) / She's Flying - Pantarei Part II (7:01) / A New Beginning - Pantarei Part III (4:15) / Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (4:49) / 99.1 (4:55)* / Fateful Silence (5:28)

Musicians:
Bernhard Huber - drums
Wolfgang Kerinnis - guitars
Hubi Meisel - vocals
Benno Schmidtler - bass
Jan Vacik - keyboards

Discography:
Trance-like State (1997)
Very (1998)
End Of Silence (2004)
Revoiced (2005)

Genre: Progressive/Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: January 1st 2000
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.dreamscape.de
Hits: 742
Language: english

  

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