I hadn’t heard of Dream Ocean before a couple of weeks ago when I was looking at what albums were being released soon. Because of that, I have purposefully avoided the band, outside of one of the singles, ready to do this review clean and proper. I’m quite the fan of symphonic metal though so I am pretty excited for this, join me in checking it out!
The short opening track ‘Nightmare’ sets the tone for the album perfectly, opening on a creepy windup music box before an epic couple of minutes of orchestral strings and horns ring through. It gives the album an immediate grand feel to it, something that wouldn’t be out of place in a film soundtrack, and it builds perfectly into the first proper track, ‘Dark Miracles’. Said track explodes straight in with some lightning-quick drums and an awesome riff. The operatic vocals come in soon over the top for a great verse. It gives off obvious Nightwish and Within Temptation vibes, but the major presence of the orchestral parts gives a different feel to it, make it sound unique while also adding so much depth to the sound. The vocals are even more impressive in the chorus, soring higher and changing between the notes with complete control. It helps that it’s also very catchy, thanks in large part to the harmonies behind the main vocals. The bridge after the second chorus is awesome, the vocals soaring even more and providing more of a lead line over the top where you would usually expect a guitar. It was mighty impressive! We got another bridge and this one even had some harsh growled male vocals that contrasted beautifully with the female lead, adding some fantastic dynamics and harkening back to the creepy opening track. We then get a final chorus to finish things off; an easily playlisted, awesome track.
Lead single of the album and a track released way back last year, ‘Pendulum of Time’, is up next. It opens on a pretty heavy, sinister riff, the strings, synths, and keys working so well over the top of the low, distorted guitar and huge drums and bass to make a truly massive sound. Most of it drops out for the verse but the ever-powerful vocals more than make up for it, keeping the sound and atmosphere massive. In fact, it’s the same throughout this track. The band does an incredible job at arranging the parts so that each track sounds as full and huge as it possibly can be, and each part works perfectly together. The chorus is another catchy and anthemic one, just as enjoyable as the previous. It drops out for a second after the second chorus before we get a pretty heavy bridge, the harmonies on the vocals being damn impressive, pretty much opera at this point. It then gradually builds up into a heavy riff and fantastic guitar solo, it suddenly taking a turn into black metal momentarily, backed up by the harsh male screams over the top of it all. It again adds to the atmosphere perfectly. We then get a final chorus to close out another fantastic track.
‘The Great Silence’ opens on an almost industrial intro and riff before the strings and horns make it undoubtedly symphonic as they give it an almost medieval/pirate vibe, I cannot quite decide which one. The verse is pretty similar to the previous song’s, heavy and chuggy, and the chorus is again MASSIVE and very catchy. I can easily see this on a huge arena-sized stage, with a fantastic stage show to boot. An awesome guitar solo follows the second chorus, the notes being given plenty of time to breath and it creates a really epic atmosphere! We then get a final chorus and outro to take us home. A simpler structure and a shorter song helped this one after the longer previous song, good stuff!
‘Lucid Air’ opens straight into the verse and has a pretty interesting vocal melody, it running at an odd time signature in comparison to the rest of the music. The rest of it is pretty standard for this album and band by this point, but the time signatures are really cool throughout! Also, it has another AWESOME chorus, one of my favourites on the album, actually. Meanwhile ‘As I Die’ had a pretty cool opening with just vocals, and the guitar following the rough melody afterwards was also awesome. Outside of that, though, there isn’t a great deal for me to say about it, it’s simply another solid track!
‘Eterna Espera’ holds a place in my heart as it was the first track I checked out from the band when I heard of the album’s release a couple of weeks ago, and it instantly made Track of the Week on our Instagram. It perfectly encapsulates what the band is about and their sound, from the hauntingly beautiful opening keys to the heavy metal guitars, bass, and drums throughout and the soaring but oft delicate vocals that contrast amazingly with all the rest. It all combines together through heavy riffs, awesome guitar solos, and incredible, catchy choruses filled with meaningful lyrics. It easily makes the playlist and is definitely a highlight of the album. It shows that the band takes what Nightwish and others have done in the past, but also builds on it and modernises it perfectly.
The electronic sounds were an interesting new addition at the start of ‘Daydreamer’, but outside of that, it is again a little more of the same. The same awesomeness, but the same nonetheless. The following track, ‘Song on the Ocean’, features Winterage’s own Gabriele Boschi on the violin. From what I can tell they make good use of him. The orchestral parts provide a beautiful three minutes for the vocals to weave over the top of. It was a wonderful change of pace after a fair few tracks that were similar, and it was so beautiful and epic that I couldn’t not love it!
We then reach the title track of the album and by far the longest song on the album, clocking in at over ten and a half minutes. It feels like it will be a slow burn kind of track with the slow piano intro but within a minute the metal kicks in over the top. The metal in question is awesome, but with such a long track it may have been nice to have had a slightly more steady intro. Especially since, for the vast majority of the time, it doesn’t go too far. There’s a pretty cool riff around the five-minute mark and it drops down to sown to synths a little bit later for a minute or so. But outside of that, it was all fairly similar, which was a shame as I’m generally a big fan of prog!
The electronic sounds return for the final track, ‘Uyan’, and I have to admit singing in a different language was a nice, unexpected touch, somehow adding even more beauty to the track. Much like most of the rest, it stays at that same level throughout, but I have to reiterate that it is a good level. They are all damn good songs, I just don’t have much I can write about them as a lot of them are fairly similar. Still, it is a good end to a good album!
Overall: This was great! Symphonic metal is a damn hard genre to crack, especially for a smaller band, but they did it perfectly with this album and really helped evolve the genre, I feel. I loved this and it has urged me to check out their previous stuff, as well as being excited to hear what is next for the band!
The score: 7.5/10
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