Review Summary: A very splendid take on “dream doom”
Featuring two members of such varied projects as Tomb Mold, Sumerlands, and Magic Circle among others, Dream Unending offers a very atmospheric death metal approach. As the risk of splitting hairs, their debut album seems to sit right on the line between death/doom and funeral doom. Comparisons have been made to the early works of Anathema and Paradise Lost, but I find its otherworldly aesthetic is more aligned with something like Thergothon. Perhaps the band’s self-proclamation of “dream doom” may be the best label for it after all.
Either way, the musicianship on Tide Turns Eternal certainly lives up to its premise. The guitar work evokes a dramatic haze throughout, unafraid to spend extended time on bleak clean segments and giving the heavier chugs a certain hollowness that enhances the desolation. The rhythms are simple but steady, maintaining a methodical pace without getting too slow or upbeat. The vocals also work well for the style, largely opting for a cavernously echoing grunt. There are certainly signs of things that could be expanded upon, particularly the incorporation of more clean vocals, but this current template never feels too limited.
The songwriting also does well in reflecting this dichotomy. The harsh/melodic segments never feel too cut and dry as songs will flow between differing dynamics and tempos with gradual ease and even the heaviest sections will still throw in a trippy lead on top of the colossal riffs. These tropes are best displayed on “Dream Unending” and the closing title track, the former standing out for its haunting middle complete with echoing spoken word and the latter featuring a comparably straightforward structure driven by a majestically lurching buildup and climactic female vocals. The two instrumentals also serve as splendid interludes that flesh out the release without feeling too superfluous; the appropriately titled “Entrance” setting an especially effective ethereal tone.
Overall, Tide Turns Eternal is a strong debut that presents a unique style with room for further development. While the riffs and structures aren’t the most directly ear catching, the differing dynamics and smooth musicianship work strongly in the duo’s favor. The music is like a weighted blanket, simultaneously heavy and calming. It’s comfortable while still offering some unnerving progressions and crushing without getting too aggressive. With a follow-up already set for 2022, it’s easy to see that Dream Unending has even more to say with this splendid take on dream doom.