Sometimes the most interesting work is done by artists that don’t have anything left to prove. On Dream Unending‘s debut album Tide Turns Eternal, established metal veterans and virtuosos Derrick Vella of Tomb Mold and Justin DeTore of Innumerable Forms explore teeth-pulling riffs in equal measure with blissed-out, disembodied soundscapes. Yet the two musicians don’t lean so heavily on the work they’ve already done, instead paving a path forward into a more unpredictable permutation of death-doom metal.
With disembodied, gloomy plucked guitar strings rendered in startling acoustic detail and textured and expansive chords, Tide Turns Eternal oscillates between loud and soft, eerie and aggressive. That much isn’t particularly novel, as such contrasting elements have almost felt arbitrary to doom and death metal’s continued growth and reach. Yet, DeTore and Vella find within this structure an attempt to craft a heightened fidelity. Using the aesthetic contours of album opener “Entrance,” a softer affair, the duo use its established chords and harmonies as a patina that covers the rest of the album, a thesis that is carried across depressive lows and glittering highs. This refrain provides a signal-like clarity of when a shift is about to occur.
There’s an impressive layering of vocals throughout the album, forlorn screams on top of guttural growls and sneering chops from the throat glide over watery guitars building bridges to the next progressive leaning percussive sequence. There’s an equal amount of attention paid to the low end, such as the nausea-inducing bass on “In Cipher I Weep,” tuned to the lowest signature possible to make every guitar sound that much higher. It’s doom and sludge 101, but done with reverence. True to the track’s title, an eventually depressive swing takes its soaring highs down into abyssal, bleak lows, letting only a whispering guitar sound out.
It’s this push and pull that finds the band undulating with ease, from marching double-bass hits to slaughtering guitars, and gut-wrenching synths. Components that are welcomed in their subversion when tracks like “The Needful” manage to squeeze in some eccentric pedal choices, delayed effects, or just perfectly poised snarls while never abandoning its core melody. The album’s core focus seems to rest on the actual track “Dream Unending” which features a breadth of musicality, from chugging guitars to deft and nimble, twinkling or fluid harmonies, a stupendous double-bass stretch serving as a percussive adornment to the masterful guitar work. All the while never overindulging, providing just enough space for the maestros to focus their techniques.
Dream Unending submerge listeners in a seemingly effortless debut that showcases the duo’s strengths in both composition and atmosphere. Their creative bond is a potent one, with results that are as seismic as they are dreamy. Tide Turns Eternal is a wonder of dynamics and flexibility, tracing acoustic lineages from both artists to a single converging point.
Label: 20 Buck Spin