Thursday, March 25, 2010


Extremely perplexing Bay Area black metal, in that i'm not sure if i'm supposed to take the music on its own merits or judge it for what it so obviously is-a Weakling clone (i will not say "tribute") band. From the logo design to the lettering in the interior artwork to the band's fucking name ("Dead as Dreams" being the title of Weakling's one, mighty album) this is the work of one artist totally smitten with the legacy of another.
Weakling were a confusing entity in their own right and to this day i'm not sure if the band was meant as a joke or some sort of black metal juggernaut conceived of a different aesthetic. Certainly "Dead as Dreams" is an amazing, staggeringly involved and complex piece of black metal romanticism, an infinite hymn made up of five songs that still best almost any other music they're compared against. The album was a masterwork; beauty and progression woven hand in hand resulting in a record that was impossible to absorb in a single sitting. It's one of my own favorite albums, too, but it's so singular and visionary that any attempt at emulation could only seem postured and juvenile.
And so it is with Dead As Dreams. While the music itself is excellent, well-played (at times even attaining that elusive time-stretching quality so sought after in black metal of this type) and suitably epic (this is one 24 minute song) there's a lack of any sort of personal flourish or emotional investment that begins to manifest itself as a sort of artistic, intellectualized emptiness. When you're just trading on someone else's ideas there's really not much you can bring to distinguish yourself. I'm not sure why Dead As Dreams chose this direction, especially since there are some great moments on this record. It's intense and gargantuan throughout its exhaustive runtime and there are some instances of true beauty, especially at the 14 minute mark when acoustic guitars make an entrance and the whole track begins to evolve into a triple harmonized requiem descending into a pit of sorrow. It's the music though, the choice of notes and melodies, that make those distinctions possible-not any sort of personal/compositional connection with the material.
I understand loving certain bands. I understand how there are "those" records that mean more to you than anything else, and i understand filtering those influences into your own art and feeling a deeper connection to those sounds. I did it on the Dreamless album (Centaur's "In Streams" is still a major record for me) but never once did i feel like i was just ripping Matt Talbot off. I don't know how the guys in Dead As Dreams could possibly convince themselves they AREN'T trying to copy Weakling step by step. It's an exceptionally well-done magic jar act, but much like that evil, soulless spell it's just a habitation, an occupation, a wandering trip through someone else's unique dreamspace. You can pass yourself off to some, but those intimately acquainted with the subject will see the disconnect.

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