Technical Death Metal feels like such an unnecessary term. The cornerstone of Death Metal, outside of the cartoonish violence depicted in lyrical content, is a virtuosic musical ability. How exactly do you make something already technically proficient even more extreme in its dexterity? Fortunately, bands like Aenimus are here to provide the answer.
Musically, this album is certainly marvelous. The instrumentation is top tier and out of this world impressive, with guitar flourishes that would make Tosin Abasi think twice about his own playing ability. It does become a touch tiresome after a while; the jazz-inflected solos and million note per minute playing is fatiguing and loses its luster rather rapidly. This overt technicality doesn’t always brilliantly translate into songwriting nous. With a few notable exceptions, there are times when Dreamcatcher (Nuclear Blast) strays into the unremarkable. The songs can at times lack intrigue and excitement.
The exceptions to this critique, and the times when the album really shines, are fantastic; the likes of ‘The Overlook’ stand out. Their focus on experimentation with time signatures and soundscapes goes far further to creating a great song than indulgent technical ability.
As a progressive album, Dreamcatcher has one key element that sets it apart from much of the genre: a decent vocalist. Alex Green’s vocal performance is a standout part of Aenimus’ puzzle. The harsh vocals are rapturous, particularly in the ending of the bulk of ‘Between Iron and Silver’, and while his clean singing sometimes strains to hit the high notes, it is far less acquired a taste than Geddy Lee or Claudio Sanchez, and more listenable than the likes of James LaBrie.
The overarching problem with this album is a lack of cohesion. It feels like a collection of songs that have been forced together rather than a natural piece. There is very little by way of a sense of flow between tracks and oftentimes there is little to distinguish a song from its predecessor. It is a technical marvel, but one note and sloppily crafted.
There is plenty to laud about Dreamcatcher; every performance from every musician is beyond adept and reaches for the heady heights of the best of the genre. Unfortunately playing well does not equate to great artistry and the album more often than not falls flat.
5 / 10