Posted November 18, 2008
Every now and then an album comes along that is so surprisingly addictive you just don't know what to do. That moment came for me with Dreamer from Haste the Day. I really wasn't expecting much since I didn't own any of their earlier work, mainly because it didn't strike me as unique enough to stand out. Yet here I was taking a chance on a new album thanks to the good word of mouth I'd heard from a few friends heavily into this sort of metalcore music. Obviously my lack of knowledge of this band's back catalogue and how they've changed (though I am aware of the vocalist change prior to Pressure the Hinges) makes my perspective a bit different from older Haste the Day fans, but I do know what I consider to be key parts to make a great album and Dreamer has all of those things.
The songs on this album can be summed up with a few words: 'epic', 'anthemic', 'uplifting', and of course, 'brutal'. Those are good building blocks to start with and depending on what you look for in an album you may already be intrigued. The vocalist, Stephen Keech, has a low guttural growl of a scream that immediately stands out and from what I've heard he's much improved. So much so that a few fans I know didn't even believe it was the same guy. Rest assured, his intensity is well heard on the opening track, '68', as it builds up to a fantastic breakdown and you can just imagine the energy it would create in a concert. One thing is for sure, these guys know how to do a breakdown well and make it feel just right. The drummer is also extremely talented with the quickest double bass onslaught I've ever heard. This is especially apparent in 'Mad Man' where my jaw literally dropped as my brain frantically struggled to comprehend what it was hearing. The guitar riffs are just as amazing during the heavy tracks as the chords are during the slower songs as well.
Technical ability is all well and good but the question always is: 'Does it fit the song?' In this case it certainly does and all of it builds up wonderfully with, perhaps my favorite part about this CD, the vocal harmonies and singing. I wasn't really expecting the epic choruses as the band harmonizes in a way few bands do. It's really hard to explain just how good it is and with every spin of this album I realize that those very harmonies are a key reason why Dreamer is so uplifting for a heavy album. Practically every song has a catchy, anthemic chorus that is nigh impossible to resist singing along with. No doubt I've looked like a fool in my car as I've sung along horribly. 'An Adult Tree' is the song that epitomizes all of this and it's easily my favorite on the album. It starts off with some calm singing before the screaming kicks in and the song constantly builds through the chorus with the band singing 'oooh' in the background behind more brilliant singing. By the end you'll be left wondering how a song can build and peak so perfectly.
This is what Haste the Day have done so well on this album. They've put guttural screaming, beautiful harmonies, brutal drumming, and sweeping guitars in a big smelting pot to craft an epic album with just the right touch of everything. Even the tracks are placed with a strong flow in mind and when you get to the etheral 'Labyrinth', which wouldn't feel out of place on some progressive rock masterpiece, it doesn't lose a step. The last track, one from the old days from what I understand, is a melancholic one with Stephen's voice soaring and adding the final touch to a fantastic album. Regardless of how others may feel about Dreamer, I know it's one of the best of the year and surpasses other heavy hitters in this genre.
Gems of this album are: 'An Adult Tree', 'Resolve', '68', 'Invoke Reform'
Overall - 9.6/10
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