Review Summary: Simply breezing through particular tracks deprives the listener of a full experience, Dream To Make Believe only really works when enjoyed as a whole. Concept albums that work are rare in my experience, but this one succeeds marvelously.
The name of a particular artist or band may not always give you an immediate insight to their style or themes, however with New Jersey four-piece, Armor For Sleep, they do just that with this highly impressive offering.
'Sleep' is a word that will occur and resurface throughout this 11-track album, which is a concept based journey about the protagonist's dream like state, somber thoughts and space like fantasies, ultimately suggesting you can keep things how you want them as long as you stay asleep.
The sound portrayed throughout the record is mostly typical of the post-hardcore genre, featuring layered, driven guitar melodies with loud/quiet song dynamics and intricate passages. Perhaps the only thing the band stays away from is the aggressive screamed vocal style which would lead them into more heavy territory.
Lyrically, the album is emotional, reflective and thought-provoking, covering topics such as loss, rejection, lowliness, and suicide. Don't let the 'depressing' tag put you off though. The sheer honesty on these songs make them feel real to the listener and let's face it, we all have to go through these things and any good music gives you something you can relate to and confide in (good or bad).
The opener, "Armor For Sleep," is really just a self-titled musical intro. Lasting a mere 00:47 seconds, it briefly shows some of the intricate guitar work that awaits later on.
The title track, "Dream To Make Believe," deals with the fear of being forgotten as a person. Pummeling guitars, a great chorus and Ben Jorgensen's pleading vocals of "Let me sleep some more" make this an intriguing digest.
Tunes like "Being Your Walls" and "Frost And Front Steps" indulge more into the feeling of being rejected and having to learn to accept it. Both songs show the talent the band has of putting together a good musical structure, with distorted guitar work and diverse middle sections.
"My Town" has more of an upbeat, happy feel to it, cleverly hiding the actual darker theme of finally having enough of something and ultimately running until the point of passing out. The vibrant guitars really make the the chorus stand out.
"The Wanderer's Guild" is really well crafted. Whispered voices in the breakdown bring an epic feel to proceedings, while "Phantoms Now" explores the topic of ghosts.
Slower, more delicate offerings can be found in the final part of the album with the excellent "Raindrops" and penultimate track, "Kind of Perfect." The latter is very moody and remains at a slow pace throughout.
Closing song, "Slip Like Space," is perhaps the most obvious state of depression for the narrator ("Say your goodbyes now, I'll be in the worm hole soon"). The track is well executed; melodic guitars lead the verses while the chorus has a more atmospheric feel to compliment the thought of emptiness in the lyrics.
This will be considered as "emo" by some. Those of you who aren't fans of that particular genre aren't going to find much to like here. But it's important to note that this is emotional rock with depth, along with some interesting lyrics. It strays away from the mainstream audience without actually sounding 'anti-mainstream' as the oft-poignant melodies will suggest.
I find it hard to imagine anyone coming away from this album without a few new questions for themselves, and inviting introspection is one of the highest goals a record can aspire to.
Simply breezing through particular tracks deprives the listener of a full experience, Dream To Make Believe only really works when enjoyed as a whole. Concept albums that work are rare in my experience, but this one succeeds marvelously.