There’s a fine line between technical death metal and progressive death metal. I talked about it at length when I discussed Obscura’s Diluvium some time ago (our review of that album is here), and came to the conclusion that bands find some form of middle ground. One common complaint is that technical death metal has the tendency to get stale rather quickly, as the music tends to focus more on instrumental ability rather than (overall) compositional variety. Enter Aeninus’s Dreamcatcher, a melodic, technical monstrosity whose proclivity for catchy riffs and instrumental prowess show a sound that would rival any veteran.

One of the first things that stands out is Aenimus’s composition. Although they are fully in the tech death camp – their impressive instrumental prowess is worth their weight in salt – they are not afraid to add other tones to create immersive walls of sound that take the listener away from the more technical aspects. For example, the use of clean vocals on “Eternal” cuts through the instrumental precision and heavier aspects, adding both a melodic flair and an earworm quality. This can also be heard on “My Becoming”, one of the other heavier tracks on the first half of the album.

Aenimus also has the tendency to add a symphonic overtone to their music. Although you can hear aspects of it throughout Dreamcatcher, this becomes most evident on “The Ritual”, where they devote a full minute to their symphonic outro. When I first listened to the song, I thought that there was a short, instrumental track placed between “The Ritual” and “The Becoming”, acting as a palate cleanser. As it turn out, the outro was a transition from their tech death tonalities to a symphonic one, acting as the lead from one song to the other.

Check out “The Dark Triad” guitar playthrough featuring Brian James.

Dreamcatcher also has an appropriately dream-like quality to it, a softness unfamiliar to this genre – well, if groove can be translated into more rhythm. Their sound on the latter half of the record drops their technical prowess, allowing them to shift into this melodic, syncopated rhythm that colours the remainder of Dreamcatcher.

From “Between Iron and Silver” onwards, the music swells with a different vibrancy that allows for these symphonic overtones to come through. Although they are still using their technicality to play on the heavier aspects of the music, the instrumentation becomes freer, more colorful. Aenimus no longer needs to employ their instrumental prowess to create compelling music. They got through all that on the first five songs, laying their foundation so they would get to the heart of the record and go into whatever direction they wanted. This shift shows off not only how good Aenimus is at creating music, but also how their sound has allowed them to expand into the genre.

All in all, Dreamcatcher is a great album, filled with enough melody and rhythm to be replayable. While not groundbreaking in the overall aspect of the genre, Aenimus have created a corner of their own, standing out among the well-known bands. I am excited to see where they go next, as they have laid another foundation with the introduction of symphonic elements. Whichever route they go, it looks likely that Aenimus will continue to make great music that stands out.

Also preview the song “Eternal”, featuring Sims Cashion, with this lyric video.

Dreamcatcher Track Listing:

01. Before the Eons
02. Eternal
03. The Ritual
04. My Becoming
05. The Dark Triad
06. Between Iron and Silver
07. The Overlook
08. Caretaker
09. Second Sight
10. Day Zero
11. Dreamcatcher

Run Time: 54:15
Release Date: February 22, 2019
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records