Into Eternity - Dead Or Dreaming

Year of Release: 2001
Label: DVS Records
Catalog Number: DVS 004
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:14:00

There is something eerie and prescient about Mattias Noren's artwork featured on Into Eternity's sophomore release Dead Or Dreaming. While I can't say for sure that it depicts the New York skyline, I can tell you that there are thousands of crosses. If I didn't know that this was recorded in summer of 2001 (because the liner notes tell me so) , I'd suspect that there was some reference to September 11 in there. It isn't the case, as the row upon row of crosses relates to "Unholy (Fields Of The Dead)."

I reviewed this band's debut last year, and nothing has changed. That is, this is still aggressive, in-your-face dark, thrash metal. Pummeling percussion, chugging guitars and bass, soaring clean vocals, and wrenching "death" vocals. The ratio between the two on this outing are a little more balanced -- good news if you thought there was too little rough and too much clean, bad news, I suppose, if you prefered the other. Balancing the two gives these death-growls a context and meaning, rather than being an affectation. In "Distant Pale Future," it is one's dark innerself reflected back that has these demonic cadences, leaving the chorus (and choruses) with the clean vocals. "Selling God" is another pummeling track that is all "death vocals" that sound more like the screaming winds of hell.

The percussion in "Shallow" is little too upfront during the verses, punching a hole through the rest of the song. Because at this point there are very little dynamics in the rhythm, one (I, at least) would have prefered them a little bit back. Especially since what is in the background is a deluge of distorted guitars. There's a lyric here that made me chuckle, but at it, but because of a connection I made with it. The line reads: "Assets fuel your shallowed integrity..." The thought that popped into my head: Enron. Again written before the whole Enron scandal was known, it's for sure this track has nothing to with it. But with this "filter" applied, it's interesting how appropo the lyrics are. "Liquid promises drain with your lies" (liquidity of assets is a term heard in the financial world).

"Unholy (Fields Of The Dead)" is one of the standout tracks, mainly for its easy accessibility. One does wish there was a little more oomph in the vocal delivery, as we get here a dark subject cheerily delivered. It doesn't make it a bad song, but here a little growl would have only added something. "Elysium Dream" adds to the mix with the soaring vocals of Amy Ozog, a song that is ironic. Elysium is the mythical place where the virtuous go after death... and yet here we have an traveler who finds the journey most unpleasant.

Some tracks don't work for me, "Imagination Overdose" being one of them. Shame though, as it seems to be an antidrug song from within the high. Of course, given the darkness, perhaps it's more along the lines of Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime and the drug use has been imposed rather than chosen. But nevertheless, the imagery does tap into the downside of drug addiction (is there an upside?). Musically it seems underdeveloped.

As a lyricist, Tom Roth writes in snapshots. That is, they capture a single moment or image and then describe or comment on it. This isn't meant as criticism. What it means is that we get short, impressionistic phrases attempting to convey a great deal of meaning. They are sketches into which the listener must fill in the rest. This is a different experience for me, as much of the music that I listen to contains more elaborate and poetic language. What it also does is give their music a sharp sense of realism. Seems ironic that impressionism would result in realism, but this is how we experience and remember life - as snapshots, as fragments of memory to which context needs to be applied. Underlying this is a familiar sense of alienation, of depression, of gloomy despair.

Despite not being fond of death vocals - at least in anything but small doses - I do like Dead Or Dreaming. It doesn't move me as much as their debut, but I'm going attribute some of that to dark/black metal not being so new a genre to me as it was a year ago. And in comparison to their debut, this seems a warmer release, that "silvery sheen" is gone, the effect of which is that you're closer to the music.

Aug 2009: DVS Records is no more; reissued by Century Media (8054) in 2002

Absolution Of The Soul (3:58) / Distant Pale Future (5:07) / Shallow (6:14) / Unholy (Fields Of The Dead) (4:53) / Elysium Dream (4:38) / Selling God (3:07) / Imagination Overdose (3:46) / Dead Or Dreaming (4:17) / Cyber Messiah (4:29) / Identify (3:45)

Daniel Nargang - lead and backing vocals, guitar
Jim Austin - drums, death vocals
Tim Roth - lead and death vocals, guitar
Scott Krall - bass, backing vocals

Additional musicians:

Chris McDougall - keyboards
Amy Ozog - vocals (5, 6, 9)

Into Eternity (1999/2000)
Dead Or Dreaming (2001/2002)
Buried In Oblivion (2004)
The Scattering Of Ashes (2006)
The Incurable Tragedy (2008)

Genre: Death-Black Metal

Origin CA

Added: April 21st 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 933
Language: english


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