Melodeath can be good, and it can be bad. It can be really good, and it can be really bad. A lot of melodeath is just a watered down imitation of the once so mighty Gothenburg-sound, but some melodeath can be really awesome and groundbreaking. For my money At The Gates' Slaughter of the Soul and Carcass' Heartwork as well as early releases by Inflames plus most releases by Dark Tranquility and Arch Enemy belong to the category of really awesome melodeath as do more obscure releases such as Cyanotics The Chasm Within and Mindmare's Disordered Existence. American metallers Dreaming Dead's Midnightmares belong to this group of awesome melodeath releases.
Importantly, although it is quite obviously inspired by the likes of At the Gates and Dark Tranquility, Midnightmares does not sound like a tame imitation of Gothenburg-metal. Drawing on black metal and featuring ferocious blastbeats, Dreaming Dead take their music in their very own direction, as they manage to very successfully create a near perfect equilibrium between the brutal and the melodic. At times, they even come across as being quite progressive, featuring a couple of Opeth-style mellow passages, and they also infuse their music with tech death metal elements (just check out a track like 'Exile'). Rather than blindly copying the style of Swedish nelodeath giants, Dreaming Dead seem to look to their own American hinterland for inspiration, and, thus, there appears to be somewhat of an influence from Chuck Schuldiner's classic Death releases on this album, too, which I personally appreciate a lot. And this is the source of another progressive side to Dreaming Dead's music.
It is difficult to pick highlights from an album where all the songs are extremely good, but there is one particular track that really stands out to me, and that is the instrumental 'In Memoriam', because it takes the listener through a variety of impressions and because it really captures how the entire album is both multi-facetted and yet incredibly focused. It should be mentioned that, although my favorite track on the album is an instrumental, I do not have any problems with the growled singing style that characterizes the rest of the album, which is delivered very convincingly by Elizabeth Schall Elliot.
For my money, Midnightmares is an example of compelling and innovative melodeath which retains the darkness and brutality of extreme metal and but still manages to be incredibly melodic without descending into the pop hell that a lot of Gothenburg-based acts find themselves in these days. If you are into melodic death metal and have not yet acquired Dreaming Dead's Midnightmares, hurry up and buy it now.
2. Corpse Mountain
5. In Memoriam
7. Into The Depths