inanimate_existence_Calling from a dream_coverAdvice is a tricky thing, really. I try to give only when asked1 and take only what’s given freely2, but the general advice economy moves much faster than I like to. So instead of giving advice, I prefer to just point out issues and have people come up with their own solutions. This works well when you’re reviewing music since most of the job is explaining why that music isn’t as good as it could be. A case in point would be the last album from Inanimate ExistenceA Never-Ending Cycle of Atonement, an album about which I had many complaints; it was too loud, the riffing was unfocused, and the progressive strengths of the band were sidelined in favor of said riffing, which greatly imperiled the songs. Well, it’s that time again, and Calling From a Dream is the band’s chance to right the wrongs and regain the fickle approval of Kronos. And to my shock and surprise, they actually did.

By far the biggest change in Inanimate Existence‘s sound is the inclusion of guest singer Adrianna Tentori’s clean vocals. Right off the bat, “Calling From a Dream” establishes her presence with a line that’s recapitulated at the very end of the album – an excellent flourish in a concept album about star-crossed lovers… I think. There’s a lot going on here lyrically, and though I’m sure bigger prog fans than I will pay more attention to the album’s storytelling, it’s only one facet of a remarkably careful and complete package.

Full of Fallujah-inspired leads that fill out a mystic and fantastical atmosphere, Calling From a Dream doesn’t sound like anything else, really. The closest comparison I can draw would be Epica if they decided to be a tech-death band and did a damn fine job of it. The symphonic metal pillars of storytelling and melodrama are captured perfectly but expressed through thoughtful arrangements and evocative guitar work rather than straightforward bombast and keyboard layers. “Shore of Rising Shadows” relies on chuggy riffs, but the smooth guitar tone and atmosphere of the song justify their use. Instead of blasting out solos and chuggy but faceless riffs, the band uses the trappings of technical metal as building blocks; this isn’t a flashy album, though there are some shreddy licks indeed, but for the most part it’s complex in a very appropriate way.

Inanimate existence band 2016

The latter half of the album is stacked with the very best songs, and the band saves their most potent ideas for “Beneath the Mist” and “Burial at Sea.” The former opens with a plodding riff and then gives Tentori a moment of her own before charging into a full-on assault in the style of The Flesh Prevails. Though a couple of intermediate riffs in the song feel a bit stale, they’re squashed in to push the song forward, and when Tentori’s voice returns alone, you’re more than ready for that lead again. Similar melodicism on “Burial at Sea” ends the album on a high note, and at just 35 minutes, it’s a great length.

All of my praise aside though, Calling From a Dream does have a few problems. Looking past how often the band apes Fallujah3, the album is very reliant on mid-paced and chug-heavy riffs, and though the album is quite creative, there are but a few moments that I really thought were great. A few songs like “Burial at Sea” are quite memorable, but a less spectacular A-side keeps this from being an album that really excites me.

Calling From a Dream‘s stylistic shift is hugely effective and if the band continue to make albums that are this solid, they’re sure to land a place somewhere in the modern death metal pantheon. Added to the much richer and more dynamic production that Zack Ohren achieved on this record, it’s a huge step forward from A Never Ending Cycle of Atonement, and it just goes to show: Kronos knows what Kronos likes. And he likes this album.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Unique Leader Records
Websites: inanimateexistence/bandcamp.com | facebook.com/inanimateexistence
Releases Worldwide: September 16th, 2016

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Stay brutal out there.
  2. Write shorter sentences, asshole.
  3. Because Fallujah did a pretty poor job of that earlier this year.
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  • Elton Chagas

    Now that’s more Fallujah-like than the new Fallujah album itself…

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Been spinning this on and off lately, and this is undoubtedly the best Fallujah release since Nomadic imo.

  • If someone called me from a dream while I was fighting giant spiders, I’d hang up. Lost love or no. Keep it brutal, my friends.

  • GREEN MIST BLINDS

    So what if I like the music but hate the clean singing any recommendations

    • The Lascivious Snape

      Well, this may be too obvious, but Fallujah might be a start. Fallujah includes some very limited clean atmospheric vocals, but to say that their albums contain clean singing I think would be misleading. Fallujah makes growled vocal music. Checked out their song “Carved From Stone” off their album The Flesh Prevails.

      • GREEN MIST BLINDS

        The thing keeping me from the flesh prevails is all the DR stuff , can I knowing the dr10 is out their listen to the regular dr3 with out wondering if it should be better. And I can’t find a download of the dr10 vinyl anywhere

        • Alex Benedict

          Listen to the harvest wombs

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    The opening paragraph about advice and reviews made me think… who are reviews written for? The artists? Obviously if the artists wanted advice from the reviewer they would submit the music BEFORE release, right? The readers? More likely.

    • Bas

      I always considered the advice as a style of writing, just as another way of explaining something to us, the readers. If musicians or the people that do the master (mr. Ohren) take it as advice its a nice compliment for the reviewer (mr. Kronos).

  • AnnieK13

    I like the embedded track and will have to make a point of checking out the rest of this one.

    • AnnieK13

      On second listen – not too sure about the clean vocal…for me not the right clean with the growl.

      • Kronos

        It took me a while to get used to them, but the clean vocals do grow on you.

        • Hammersmith

          I was wondering about this. At first they felt out of place. Am hoping they grow on me like Augury’s “Concealed”.

  • Ferrous Beuller

    Kronos, I’d be interested to hear what you think of Virvum – Illuminance

    • Kronos

      I checked out the preview songs and thought it was pretty average. They sound like a mashup of Unique Leader bands.

      • Ferrous Beuller

        I kept running into them on the Web and eventually checked them out – sad to say I was pretty uninspired, too. Immaculate review, as always.

        • Jeffrey Dean

          I’m actually surprised to hear that. Virvum’s was the only album I’ve pre-ordered all year and I just can’t get enough of it. Have you checked out the full album now that it’s out?

          • Ferrous Beuller

            I’ve only heard a few pre-release tracks, but considering the buzz, it left me cold. However, I haven’t heard the full album, and I’m always willing to be proved wrong.

  • TminusEight

    Sounds like Cookie Monster over Frippertronics to me

  • GardensTale

    That midsection gives me involuntary giggles. The full second stops in the middle of words makes it sound like the whole band simultaneously need to catch their breaths. This is technically good but not for me I think.

  • Hammersmith

    This is a tough one, on the one hand I quite like what I’ve heard of this album so far. Some of it feels like a straight ripoff of Fallujah though, which cheapens it quite a bit for me.

  • Phil Daly

    What is it about Unique Leader and that style of cover art? Their Bandcamp page is a retinal assault of swirly blues and purples, structures in the middle distance and aliens / monsters looming over things. It’s hilarious!

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Really liked the soft intro to that song, but was disappointed when the ole’ death metal standard drum beat took over – thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump… These guys certainly show a nice creative side, though.