Dream Death – “Journey Into Mystery” (1987)

Dream Death’s Journey Into Mystery was released in 1987 by New Renaissance Records.  This album may be of interest to any old-school metal fans out there wanting to hear an early example of a doom/death metal hybrid.   What we have here are slow tempos and thick guitars (the doom element), but also there are some fast tempos thrown in throughout.  The vocals are harsh (not nearly as guttural as today’s death metal but quite extreme for the time), and the lyrics are obsessed with death.  Of course labels are misleading and it is difficult to pigeonhole Dream Death, or any band for that matter, with the stamp of a specific genre.  Sometimes its just easier to label a band as part of a metal sub-genre in order to corral potential fans in the right direction.

Journey Into Mystery is considered an underground classic by some, but it seems these days people throw the word “classic” around a bit too liberally.  In fact, you would be hard pressed to find an old ’80s metal album that isn’t considered “classic” by someone, especially the old thrash or death albums.  These fans ascribe to a certain cult mentality whereby inaccessibility and, to some extent, obscurity, earns these albums a badge of credibility that can morph into “classic” status through a revisionist lens.  I say revisionist because the records may have been ignored upon their original release (maybe because they weren’t all that great?).  Oh well, who am I to judge what is classic?  We all have opinions and mine is just as worthless as yours.

My Worthless Opinion:  Hey, they can’t all be winners!  Sometimes we have to get off the party bus and take a ride on the suck wagon.  I love celebrating the lost gems of ’80s metal as much as anyone I know.  It is awesome discovering bands such as Attack and Waysted, but for every one of these bands there are dozens of old metal records that are not well-known for a reason; maybe they ain’t all that special.  For me Dream Death’s Journey Into Mystery is something that doesn’t hold my interest.  Only the drumming stands out as being anything close to memorable.  The riffs aren’t all that great, which is a cardinal sin for slow-paced “doomish” metal.  You gotta have big juicy riffs that carry the tunes.  The vocals by Brian Lawrence are bad.  His harsh barks seem forced, as if he is trying a bit too hard.  Also, the guy can’t seem to frame his vocal lines in any meaningful or original fashion.  If early doom/death or proto-death is your bag, then Journey Into Mystery may be your wet dream, but I find this more abrasive, extreme metal to be more of a ’90’s phenomenon (although it clearly started in the ’80s), and as you can tell by my website, I am more of an arch ’80s metal fan!  Ha Ha Ha!  So… yeah, I skip this one.  My score: D

Update: Okay, so I recently read a book called Sound Of The Beast: The Complete Headbanging History Of Heavy Metal by Ian Christe.  It’s an okay book.  Not authoritative by any means.  It should be called The Complete Headbanging History Of METALLICA because it is such a Metallica-centric book.  (This is a common mistake made by many lazy heavy metal “experts”.)  But I digress… the reason I mention the book is because Christe has a section where he lists The Best 25 Heavy Metal Albums Of All Time.  Guess what?  He includes Journey Into Mystery on the list!  Wow!  So that goes to show you how subjective music is (as if you didn’t already know).  He loves this album and a wiped my ass with it.  Just thought you should know.  Peace out.

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3 thoughts on “Dream Death – “Journey Into Mystery” (1987)

  1. The book by Ian Christie is a excellent book…because I started with heavy metal back in late 1979/ early 1980 with NWOBHM, so I can appreciate the book, and I would give the book a good B+/ A-. Excellent book.

    If your new to heavy metal, it is cool to use his top 25 for a want list in his book “The Complete headbanging history of Metallica” ha! , but of course tons off stuff are missing on such a short list.
    Just use the print outs from play it loud forever, also when going on the record shop.

    I rate Dream Death “Journey Into Mystery”, a solid 9 out of 10 or a A. Because it is just a record and CD, I have played alot since it was first released in 1987.

    The best way to collect 80’s heavy metal/ hard heavy rock, of course is to find the original heavy metal fanzines for that era, Sounds, Kerrang, Metal Rendezvous, Kick Ass Monthly, Metal Forces, Metal Mania, as well as Metal Maniacs, Hit Parader. Because the more you read, the more hidden jems you will find.

    The other traditional heavy metal lost jems on the New Renaissance records label are the 2 Medieval releases, also a band in some ways similar to Dream Death. (doom elements and harsh vocals).

    • Thanks for the comments! Very much appreciated. Could be time for me to give “Journey Into Mystery” a second chance. I agree, there are tons of hidden gems out there, and I’m still finding more all the time! Cheers!

  2. While listening to Dream Death, I usually also dig out Candlemass “Nightfall”, Trouble “Run to the Light” and Pentagram “Day of Reckoning”, also from the same-era.

    I always liked the more acquired taste side of heavy metal. I love Mercyful Fate more than Metallica. Nasty Savage more than Savatage. Halloween “Don’t Metal with Evil” more than Helloween from Germany. Grave Digger more than Tygers of Pan Tang. Cirith Ungol over everone else. Attacker more than Hades…etc. So for 1980’s commerical heavy metal… you know I am going to say NITRO, as a personal favorite of mine…ha ha!!

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