Friday, July 21, 2023

Golem - Dreamweaver (2004)

Although I can't say for sure whether the band has ever really broken up, Dreamweaver was their third and most recent offering, now almost two decades old, and while it certainly shares some fundamental influences with its predecessors, the first time I spun this one I almost thought I was listening to a different band. It's got a similar sense of melodic acumen, but it's as if somewhere along the way, Golem started listening to a lot more brutal death metal in the early 00s, which translates into a more propulsive, ear-rupturing experience, and coincidentally takes them even further away from that Carcass comparison which dominated much of the debut and some of the sophomore. Dreamweaver is tense, clinical German death metal, and like the rest of their catalog, underrated.

The riffs here really churn along with syncopated, punchy rhythms, full of weighty melodies that aren't so obvious as their earlier writing. The new drummer obliterates the performance on those old albums, blasting effortless when necessary, and they basically possess all the weaponry of your standard issue brutal/tech death metal band, though where so many of those struggle to find a soul for their music, Golem is just left of center incorporating enough progressive and melodic components to keep you coming back. No, it's not Cynic or Atheist, but if you're into groups like Lykathea Aflame that can balance off that exoticism and atmosphere with the brutality, then this is certainly an album you will want to track down. It might even be a little forward thinking when you imagine bands like Fallujah or Rivers of Nihil were still coming down the road about a half-decade after this came out.

The vocals still consist of guttural and snarls, but they only superficially resemble their original influence, and feel more like a blunt object being dispensed over your head alongside those choppy rhythms. Leads are good, often emitting jazz/fusion or bluesy vibes, but even more interesting are the points where they'll just throw out these simpler, atmospheric guitars over the more complex battery ("Breeder"). The bass playing here is the best of the three albums, grooving and compelling on its own without always copying the guitars at a 1:1, and like the title demonstrates, this is perhaps the easiest of their albums to get lost in. I enjoy this one nearly as much as The 2nd Moon, and if they had kept putting out material along this path and evolving it further, they'd be one of our hugest death metal acts of this sort today. I guess there's still a chance!

Verdict: Win [8.25/10]

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