Malicious Dream
Soil

Getting their start over the past decade with a demo and EP, The Netherlands’ Malicious Dream has been picking up the pace more recently. After meeting some positive reception for their live performances, their debut has apparently been awaited with some anticipation by those with the fortune to have heard the band before this. Complete with luxurious packaging and a strong mix from none other than Dan Swano, it’s clear that these Dutch metallers have gone for broke on “Soil“, making sure the world gets to hear them on their best foot. For the most part, this ambition has paid off, resulting in a crisp, intelligent piece of melodic death metal. With that being said, Malicious Dream‘s emulative approach leaves something to be desired in regards to their originality…

Although the band’s press kit describes “Soil” as a combination of ‘atmosphere and melody with aggression and energy in a mix of different metal and rock styles’, they stay true to the sort of progressively-inclined melodic death metal you’ve likely heard at one point or another. The riffs are indeed heavy and atmospheric, filtered through a very clean sense of production. The vocals- provided by guitarist Anton Heesterbeek- largely resort to death growls, although they are restrained enough to that there’s not much difficulty in understanding what he’s actually saying. Interspersed between the metal moments are frequent acoustic breaks, where soft clean vocals can also be heard. Describing this band- and taking into account Dan Swano’s contribution- it shouldn’t be any surprise when I say that Malicious Dream sound quite a bit like Opeth. Depending on what your opinion of the Swedish metal masters is, this can be a good or bad thing. Malicious Dream tend to regurgitate alot of the tricks that made Opeth great in the first place, and it’s executed with a perpetual sense of taste and skill. With that being said, I cannot shake the feeling that Malicious Dream do not escape from the shadow of Opeth.

The style may not feel particularly fresh, but the way in which its done is generally excellent. It’s clear that this is a work of no little labor- the production and packaging both give the sense that Malicious Dream are a potentially professional act. Chris van der Linden (himself of the atmospheric bands Fourteen Twentysix and Bow) has contributed some wonderful ceramic/photographic art for this project, and the booklet has enough wonderful art to keep one’s eyes busy for an entire spin of the record. The climax “In Mourning” (and its coda, “Leaving…”) makes for the best that Malicious Dream have to offer on “Soil”. It is a gradually building, emotionally powerful track that holds its progressive inclinations in full view for all to see. “Discordance” is another great track, taking things down a slightly darker path than the rest of the material here. The musicianship here is excellent, with a particular accolade going to the lead guitar work.Some of the most memorable stuff on “Soil” is thanks to keen, beautiful melodies from the guitars.

Heesterbeek’s growls are dark and understandable, and fit Malicious Dream‘s sound like a glove. Less successful however are the clean vocals, which- while perfectly capable of conveying a melody- feel in need of some extra beef and conviction to them. This could be something I could say for Malicious Dream at large. It’s well-composed, thoughtful music, but “Soil” could have made a greater impression, had there been a deeper sense of grit. It’s not mechanical enough to call it sterile, but Malicious Dream would sound even better if they let the death metal demon out to play. As debuts go, Malicious Dream can call this one a success, but I think we will hear much better things from them in the future.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Conor Fynes
November 2nd, 2012

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