Nearly every time I prepare to go out for food and/or drink, I tell myself something along the lines of “I’m only going to have a couple” or “I’m not going to eat too much.” This inevitably leads to a moment later in the night where my wife mocks me for bemoaning the fact that I’ve tested the limits of gluttony and intemperance again. “Just accept the fact that you’re going to get hammered and eat too much and choose to enjoy it,” she says. She’s onto something here. While it’s generally best to aim for moderation in life, sometimes you just have to go into something expecting and embracing excess. This is a lesson that Spanish symphonic power metal band Eternal Dream demands that you take to heart.
The opening title track of the band’s sophomore album Daementia forces you to quickly decide if you’re up for a trip down the road to excess. After a quiet ninety seconds of sound effects, orchestral keys and the hauntingly beautiful operatic voice of singer Ana Moronta, the band explodes into a neoclassical instrumental tour de force that hints at many of the themes that will be used later on in the album. Even bassist Antonio Motta is given space for a mini solo, foreshadowing many moments to come where his superb playing will be used front and center to help create Daementia’s varied atmospheres. I realize I’m spending a lot of time talking about a three minute intro track, but I found myself replaying it over and over and it’s almost worth the price of admission on its own.
Daementia is a concept album based upon the many versions of Alice in Wonderland. Each song is named for one of Alice’s emotions, and for the most part, the band nails the feelings. “Euphoria” stuck out immediately with its saccharine keyboard melody and its upbeat riffing and leads. Moronta’s vocals and the music itself will evoke comparisons to Epica, and nowhere is this more true than on “Delusion.” The song drops the neoclassical noodling for a moment and opts for a groovy riff backed by a sinister organ motif from keyboardist Adrián Romero. Moronta becomes possessed by the Queen of Hearts on “Wrath” and guitarists Jose Gil and Alejandro Rodríguez conjure rage of their own with a blackened tremolo passage. I can’t overstate how talented this guitar duo is. They approach Dragonforce levels of insanity on “Anxiety” and, um, “Insanity,” but they also know how to scale back and play with soul and restraint as seen on “Amnesia.” They even employ some tasteful classical acoustic on “Denial” and “Numbness,” transforming what could have been cheesy ballads into welcome changes of pace.
While on the longer side at 55 minutes, Daementia flows well and feels much shorter. Each song is genuinely unique, and I found myself looking forward to all of them for one reason or another. Some fat could be trimmed from melancholic closer “Awakening” as its point could easily have been made in half the time, but other than that, Eternal Dream knows how to overindulge with restraint — if that makes any sense. This is a quality that sets them apart from many of their genre peers. The drums feel a little loud in the mix at times as there are several moments where I’d like to hear the intricacies of what the guitars are doing in the background, but overall this album sounds great to these ears.
Daementia’s whimsical spirit is really hitting the spot for me during this magical time of year, and I’m extremely grateful that this promo fell to lowly me. One need only take a cursory glance at TheKenWord’s bio to realize that he would have greedily absorbed this into his porous flesh if given half a chance. If you’re feeling moderate, go ahead and walk around this rabbit hole, for it is deep and full of excess. If you’re game for an overdose of melody and neoclassical wizardry, I invite you to take the plunge.