Review Summary: Sublime Dementia exemplifies how to employ restraint in progressive metal, resulting in it becoming one of the most accessible early progressive death metal albums.
Loudblast tend to shift in their musical stylings with every album, in spite of having found several successful formulas along the way. Sensorial Treatment’s death/thrash sound evolved into the fairly standard but highly competent Death
-lite Disinicarnate. Much like Death before them, the next step was a considerably more progressive album with Sublime Dementia, but in the process Loudblast managed to distance themselves in sound from both Death and the army of contemporaries in their wake, producing an excellent progressive death metal album much unlike those before it. Whilst they unfortunately deviated from this sound with the more groove oriented Fragments and their newer melodeath material, this album has stood the test of time more than adequately.
Sublime Dementia’s greatest strength is that for a progressive metal album, it’s relatively unambitious; on paper this sounds antithetical, but this is the best measure of its difference from the Gorguts, Deaths, and so on of the 90s. Most of the riffs aren’t too complicated, and the song structures are quite conventional, without too many shifts in time signature. What make their sound succeed as a result are the generally heightened melodicism and the fact that the riffs have just enough dynamics from fast tremolo picking to slow chugs to atmospheric leads. There are never too many layers added, but always just enough to create suspenseful transitions, whilst the occasional stereotypical “progressive” elements don’t become as overbearing as on weaker albums. This restraint heavily aids tracks like the title track, which is at least superficially the most adventurous song on the album, but never overextends into territory that doesn’t serve the greater whole of the song.
This all being said, Sublime Dementia has plenty of moments that stick out as highlights and sufficient dynamism for the album not to drag. The opening salvo of Presumption
, Wisdom (Farther On)
and Turn The Scales
all find their groove and are stocked with great riffs and catchy moments, such as Wisdom’s clean vocal breaks and the accompanying descending tremolo picked riff. Subject to Spirit
’s back and forth between meatheaded riffing and dizzying time signature switches also stands as a highlight, along with the methodical but highly melodic title track.
Defined by its own neatness and understanding of its limitations, Sublime Dementia is example of how progressive music can show the necessary restraint to remain catchy and groovy. Whilst there are perhaps fewer moments of sheer brilliance here as a result, the overall songwriting consistency is very strong, and there are almost no moments of weakness in the tracks offered. As such, whilst not reaching the heights of late-Death or something like Unquestionable Presence, Sublime Dementia serves as a highly accessible progressive death metal romp, and has aged splendidly.