Beyond Mortal Dreams – Abomination of the Flames Review

Two albums in thirty years does not a prolific act make. But that’s exactly how Beyond Mortal Dreams’ story begins. 1992 saw the youthful Australian death metallers spawn upon this mortal plane, under the moniker Suffering. After changing their name to Beyond Mortal Dreams in ’95, the band…. well, disbanded until 2003. Upon reforming, Beyond Mortal Dreams extracted enough evil and grotesquery from the depths of hell to concoct their debut record, From Hell, in 2008. Now, fourteen years later, these hellish imps prepare to unleash their second tome, entitled Abomination of the Flames, accompanied by this wonderfully infernal visage beside this introduction. What debaucheries await within, I wonder?

Perhaps benefitting from the very small collection to their name, Beyond Mortal Dreams sound like a band of the olden days who circumvented the painstaking process of releasing legendary albums—and, of course, falling out of favor after album five or six—and skipped right to the part where they reignite the flames of their ashen career. Put another way, all of the material here sounds familiar, reeking of the same stench that befouls such household names as Incantation and Nile, but infused with fresh and youthful essence. Abomination of the Flames is replete with thick, churning riffs and cool ideas that I haven’t heard from this school of cavernous death metal often, if at all (for example, the vocoder effects on “They Are Seven” in particular struck a chord). Complementing the murky sonic palette saturating Abomination of the Flames, delightful guitar solos, somewhat reminiscent of the NWoBHM tradition, brighten the landscape with the brilliant glow of uncharacteristically benevolent sunlight. A magnificent contrast to be sure, and in that respect, Beyond Mortal Dreams set themselves apart from their modern contemporaries, like Tomb Mold and SepticFlesh, just as well as their classic colleagues.

With classic death metal like this, the devil lives in the details, and Beyond Mortal Dreams get the details right. Once again, I must highlight the vocoder FX that bring much-appreciated character to “They Are Seven” and “Decimation Hymn.” These two dramatic epics are already the album’s strongest cuts, but that small vocal detail adds just enough extra texture to elevate the material. Elsewhere, that same qualitative elevation finds its place in ample and righteous guitar solos, strongest and most memorable in “Abomination of the Flames,” “They Are Seven,” and “Peace Through Annihilation.” When appreciating the album as a whole, I notice a captivating progression from straightforward blunt-force trauma at the start into more surgical technicality by the close. It never strays fully into tech-death territory, but I can’t deny the tangential resemblance to Nile and Lykathea Aflame in that latter half. This transition in style occurs smoothly and organically, allowing the listener to enjoy the process without disruption or distraction.

It’s a shame, then, that Abomination of the Flames stumbles in key areas. Firstly, the production suffers from a distinct lack of impact. While at first I believed the record to be cripplingly muddied and muffled, I’ve since softened my position and concluded that the mix is just unbalanced. It’s bottom-heavy, which I love, but the oddly soft snare and thin guitar tone (this criticism does not apply to the numerous lead guitar solos) don’t carry enough weight to punch with any force. In a similar vein, the brown-note growls of the vocalist are a treat, and contrast nicely with the hellspawn shrieks that feature on occasion. However, even those subterranean gurgles seem buried too far beneath the drums all too often. On the songwriting front, Abomination of the Flames totes a couple of lackluster tracks like “Hell of Eternal Death” and “Deficit in Flesh,” which are perfectly enjoyable in the moment but fail to make a lasting impression. The pieces—tectonic riffs, ebullient solos, massive rhythms—are all there, but they lack the spice and texture of the album’s strongest cuts.

Beyond Mortal Dreams sound like a band on the rise, despite having been founded thirty years in the past. That being the case, their sophomore effort is solid and sufficient to satisfy many. Any future work will benefit greatly from a beefed-up midrange in the mix and a greater focus given to the mystical touches emphasized in this album’s highlights. Otherwise, Abomination of the Flames is a decent outing worthy of death metal enthusiasts’ attention, but doesn’t yet meet the standard required to push farther.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Lavadome Productions
Website: |
Releases Worldwide: April 15, 2022

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