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It's been too long since we last heard from California's Dreaming Dead. The band's last album, Midnightmares dropped five years ago. Since then, vocalist and guitarist Elizabeth  Schall has lent her lead guitar skills to grind act Cretin, which may explain the relative brevity of Dreaming Dead's newest, Funeral Twilight It's a quick ride, but the band packs a lot of oddness into these eight songs. The record feels like a nostalgic throwback to that sweet time around 1995 when old school death metal bands began experimenting with Gothenberg-ish melody. Expect a high number of solos-per song, especially considering how brief these tracks are.

Full disclosure: IO staff writer Avinash Mittur mixed Funeral Twilight, and knows its nooks and crannies better than anyone except maybe Schall herself, who has offered liner notes for four of these songs below.

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"No Masters, No Slaves" is the song that started it all. In the beginning there was no grand plan nor did I have a stylistic direction in mind. I always let current life events guide me through the emotions and writing process. I only knew that, in terms of song structure, I wanted to keep things simple, natural, and [I wanted to] bring back elements of our first album. The opening guitar melody was inspired by the chorus melody of "Within One". Developing pitched screams has always been a priority so I continued experimenting with that, specifically during the chorus section. I worked in different combinations of chaotic and melodic guitar harmonies. During this period I also developed the discipline to wake up at 5am to write. I needed a quiet and peaceful space, time of day to escape the noise and busyness of life. “Bodies are forming and bodies are delivered dead” are the opening lyrics and mark the start of this 4 year journey.

 

"Beyond the Black Moon" lyrically is an ode to HP Lovecraft’s “Beyond the Wall of Sleep”. I read the story several times over and was extremely focused on doing my best to honor his mastery. “Full-moon shadow casting spells within this realm” and “This cosmic truth is no longer disguised” are a few of my favorite lines. The song is very black metal in nature. During the chorus, I exaggerate the guitar bends, which I credit to works by Inquisition. Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm was on constant replay in my car. The lead section was the last part added to the song. I was dying to do trade off leads, like Iron Maiden, but edgier. And I knew with Chris’ natural ability to improvise with extreme ease, it would help elevate the quality of the song.

 

"Funeral Twilight" is very special to me. I began writing the song in 2015, the last year I lived in L.A. Saying goodbye to my birth state, the place I called home for more than 15 years, was hard. I felt the need to honor my years in California, the friends and family that surrounded me, the bandmates I’d no longer hang out and practice with regularly. The chorus comes from old riffs I wrote as a teenager; the extended solo section from my forever guitar heroes Marty Friedman & Paul Gilbert; the verse from my previous collaboration with Cretin. For lyrics, I continued pulling inspiration from outside sources; this time from one of my favorite movies ever, 'Interstellar'. The message: To live and to love boldly.

 

"Buried". I tend to write songs in pairs, "Buried" being "Funeral Twilight"’s evil twin. The opening guitar riff is something out of a video game, then slams straight into heavy, technical riffing, combined with fast & chaotic vocal phrasing - almost rapping, if I dare. The bridge reminiscent from my Opeth influences accompanied by samples morphed to fit the mood. “I’m reaching out to the hand of god, rejected then punished. Looking down upon my grave, a kiss goodbye before I wave falling.” is my favorite line of the entire album. The lyrics and song theme are inspired by the album artwork. It was my idea to create a 1st person view from a grave, but the master of the overall design is, for the third album in a row, Travis Smith.

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Funeral Twilight will be available on February 1 via Hammerheart Records. Order it here. Follow Dreaming Dead on Facebook.