Dream Death’s 1987 debut Journey Into Mystery is one of the great lost metal classics of all time. On their debut album, this Pittsburgh outfit combined the nascent sub-genres of thrash and doom into a self-styled concoction called sludge metal—that’s right, they were the Possessed of all things tuned low and played slow.
Problem is, they never saw a cent from said record, released by some unscrupulous underground label back in the day. Since the band reunited for a 25th anniversary hometown show in 2012, they’ve self-released a long-awaited follow-up the following year, and have since become reacquainted with Rise Above Records, who had originally signed Penance, the trad-doom outfit formerly known as Dream Death, back in the day. Suffice to say, this band has substantial street cred.
After a brief, spoken-word intro, Dissemination comes storming out of the gate on the title track, which perfectly captures the mid-paced chugging riffage and doomy downstrokes that had been the band’s calling card. The thrash-metal sneers of Brian Lawrence haven’t aged one bit, as he offers up a completely intelligible, old-school vocal vibe. The opening of “Expendable Blood Flow” sounds like Goblin meets “Iron Man,” ushering in another downtrodden doomster, with some slow-mo breakdowns somewhat akin to Crowbar. The creepy, horror-movie vibe is further accelerated by interlude “Crawling,” which features true-doom riffage beneath a rather impassioned spoken-word vocal.
“The Cold Hard Light” has a brief instrumental passage that nods to some of the jarring tempo changes on their debut, backed by a set of heavy-as-fuck, stop-start breakdowns. The chorus is more frantic, semi-slowed-down thrash, albeit with giant grooves befitting of the band’s self-imposed sludge moniker. “All in Vain” is a consistent mid-tempo slog along the lines of Slayer’s South of Heaven—especially in the vocal department. It picks up the pace right at the very end, leading us into the downright thrashtastic “Dominion,” which is much more aligned with Reign in Blood…until it takes an unexpected downtuned turn around the midway mark. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little Slayer worship, right? (I think these guys even opened for Slayer in the Steel City back in the day…)
Alas, while Dissemination isn’t quite as seminal as Dream Death’s debut, it definitely gets the job done!