The rhythm section enjoys dense, high speed sonic tantrums but rely just as heavily on spacious acoustic and piano-laden passages that both Moonspell and Opeth have effectively patented. A number of musical alterations manage to set Malicious Dream apart from their forebears, however. Their sound deviates from their influences by being more thrash-oriented than either Opeth or Moonspell. The gothic flourishes that dominate Moonspell's doom and gloom theatrics are absent and there are no 13 minute dirges in the vein of Opeth. Production quality is crystal clear but a far cry from the richness Opeth and Moonspell currently enjoy.
Arrangements are less intricate and more direct. Rather than take the listener on an epic musical journey, Malicious Dream keep the beginning, middle and end of their songs bound tightly together. Serrated guitars and guttural roaring open “Black Zodiac” with menacing fervor. Amid the slashing guitars and drum stomping bombardment the devil gets his named dropped at the one minute mark. An acoustic interlude recalling the chorus to Metallica’s “The Unforgiven”, briefly manages to fight off the instrumental fury before the song closes with the murderous intent it began with.
“When Darkness dispelled the Light” opens with somber keys and mournful acoustic guitars. Sparse and detached drums slowly convert what could have been a great mood piece into an abbreviated thrash anthem complete with squealing guitar leads and plodding low end. The turbulence is resolved with a single acoustic guitar outro. “Distress of Pain” finds the band taking a riff that Megadeth could have written 20 years ago (or Shadows Fall could have written yesterday) and running with it.
The result is prototypical thrash with no bells or whistles to keep things interesting. While none of the band's lyrics are particularly arresting, they seem to fall especially flat here. Album closers “Unbearable Lust” and “Fractured Mind,” however, offset the unintended lull left by “Distress of Pain.” These songs are gems that find the band combining the strongest aspects of their soft/loud dynamic with unexpected time changes and gripping guitar solos. Malcious Dream are a capable band and "Innersensis" should leave few doubters in its wake. The band's primary quandary is uncovering their own sound, which is buried underneath the layers of their influences.
Finding their own voice could take time, even a couple more albums. Many fans of Opeth and Moonspell will find a lot to like here but critics wont hesitate to label Malicious Dream as derivative. Occasionally, the lyrics fail to capitalize on the urgency and intensity of the music. The clean vocals never soar as elegantly as Akerfeldts or brood quite so effectively as Ribeiro’s but the death vocals are in good form.
Many critics excuse a band that is lacking in one way or another by saying that they “have potential”. Malcious Dream need no excuses and do indeed have potential. Goose bump-inducing moments on “The Darkness Dispelled the Light” and “Fractured Mind” should quiet the nay-sayers until this band has honed it’s sound into something as unique as it is powerful. Highs: Riveting instrumental performances on virtually every song. Clean vocals and acoustic passages are never overwrought or melodramatic. Lows: “Distress of Pain” is straightforward to a fault Bottom line: Malcious Dream will appeal to some fans of the band’s influences and have others accusing them of blatant copy-catting.
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