That’s quite a mouthful. Seems a bit like a lazy way to put a whole bunch of genres into one sentence, doesn’t it? Trust me; this is by far the most accurate depiction of Journey Into Mystery. The recipe for the album involves a slow-downed take on Slayer’s Hell Awaits, with some mid-to-late ‘80s Celtic Frost. What the album lacks in variety is balanced with a chilling, decrepit ambiance.
When these Dream Death members went on to form Penance, there was a marked effort to liven up the sound with clean guitars and keyboards. None of that is in place on Journey Into Mystery, as the band sticks to off-timed rhythms and a suffocating presence on every song. The former aspect is one of the standouts, keeping the album unpredictable enough to outweigh the occasional lull due to the band maintaining a similar style for much of the duration.
The band loves their chunky, mid-paced riffs, and uses them as a basis for these eight songs. “Bitterness and Hatred” makes good use of flashy drum work, and there is a jolt of speed added to “Black Edifice” to put some credibility behind the thrash/death influence. That becomes more clear in the last third of the album, where the band drops the doom for some head banging fury on “Sealed in Blood” and “Hear My Screams.”
Journey Into Mystery is an album that really stands on its own, sadly relegated to a small footnote in metal history. These guys had something good going, and though they were able to build longevity out of Penance, none of their albums had the sting of this one. Vocalist/guitarist Brian Lawrence has a nasty tone to his yells, and he and Terry Weston battle it out with furious leads that increase the volatile design of the songwriting.
Dream Death reunited a few years back, after the demise of Penance. The band built a following when they went by Penance, but there is nothing shameful about what they did with Dream Death. Journey Into Mystery is delightfully evil, from the grim mood to the incorporation of death, doom, and thrash metal. For being the sonic version of a dream that no sane person wants to experience, Journey Into Mystery gets the nod for this week’s Retro Recommendation.
One final note: This will be the last original edition of Retro Recommendation until 2013. It’s been a really great year and I want to thank everyone who contributed and took time out to help me with the special editions of the column: Aesop Dekker, Arthur von Nagel, Venien, Kim Kelly, Johnny King, Curran Reynolds, Chris Brock, Leon del Muerte, Gianni Nepi, Paul Kuhr, and Nathan T. Birk (I apologize if I missed anybody). Next year promises to be as obscure as this year was. Happy holidays!