Somewhere in the darkest depths of Pittsburgh, Dream Death have risen from their self-imposed grave. After making their full-length debut in 1987 with the groundbreaking doom/death/thrash masterstrokeJourney Into Mystery—an album that somehow bridged the groaning gaps between Celtic Frost, Slayer and Saint Vitus while going on to influence many a notable death metal and death/doom faction—the vastly underappreciated band pulled their own plug in ’89 and formed the more traditional doom outfit Penance. The latter’s 1992 album The Road Less Travelled was one of the earliest Rise Above releases, while Dream Death began what would prove to be a 22-year hibernation. In 2011, vocalist/guitarist Brian Lawrence, drummer Mike Smail (formerly of both Pentagram and Cathedral), bassist Richard Freund and guitarist Terry Weston regrouped and eventually stormed the studio for Dream Death’s 2013 comeback album, Somnium Excessum.
The band’s third and latest, Dissemination, marks the return of The Road Less Travelled lineup to Rise Above, this time in their resurgent Dream Death incarnation. Forged in the dank recesses of Lawrence’s basement, Dissemination is the apogee of a creative process that recaptured and reinforced the singular spirit of Dream Death’s late ’80s triumphs. “While I’m proud of the material on Somnium, I think there was some experimentation there that could have been reigned in a bit,” Lawrence offers. “The tracks onDissemination are much more focused and delivered with intent.”
The opening title track was the first song written for Dissemination, and ultimately formed the basis for one of the album’s lyrical themes. “Mike had the title before we ever had a song,” Lawrence explains. “He wanted something to express the idea of people blindly accepting the crap that’s dished out to them on a daily basis and how little ability they have to change it even if they were aware of it in the first place. You think you’re in control of your life? Guess again.”
Elsewhere, “Expendable Blood Flow” opens with a nod to a certain classic horror score before descending into a gloriously moaning riff while “Nothing Ever Will” is very loosely based upon Russian novelist and naval engineer Yegeny Zamyatin’s dystopian 1924 novel, We. “The song deals in some ways with the ‘unheard voice’ being crushed by the masses,” Lawrence explains. The album’s other main theme is mortality, as perhaps best exemplified by closer “In Perpetuum,” which was written shortly after Lawrence’s mother passed away. “The theme of death can be very clichéd in this genre but I’ve attempted to take a mature, personal view on this subject,” he says. “In some ways I feel that I’m always running from my own mortality. On this album I’ve looked my enemy in the eyes and met him head-on.”
Head-on just happens to be the best way to experience Dissemination. Not to mention loudly and often.