Beneath The Dream
EMP Records: Released February 15, 2019
Written by Tim Duran
10 out of 10
It’s a special kind of feeling when a band like Archer Nation comes around. I knew of them way back when they were just “Archer”. Three young lads playing insane thrash from their record “Culling the Weak”.
Fast forward to now, these same three lads are still playing their thrash metal music with songs from their new record, “Beneath the Dream” on EMP Records. And oh, what sounds, what joyous noise, what healing power of heavy metal these three hold in the palms of their hands. Here, Archer Nation gleans from their influences from, Megadeth, Dream Theater, Motörhead, jazz, blues, angst, frustration, and sarcasm, and deal them out equally between eight lovely, heavy, aggressive tunes. The theme I get from listening to this CD; is “nightmares”. It’s like a Freddy Krueger lullaby.
As I let the thrash bounce around in my grey matter, the music sets me free as that dude from “Shawshank Redemption. That is why it is my honor and my great pleasure to tell you about Archer Nation and the little CD they like to call, “Beneath the Dream”.
Fronted by the melodious blonde bomber, Dylan Rose (no relation) who also commandeth the six stringed beasts to do his bidding. Keyhan(the blur) Moini bashes on the barrels, and the hair mask himself, David De Silva, beating the bass into submission. Together, this power trio from Santa Cruz, California will refresh your love for pure THRASH. For us old dudes, it’s a rebirth of the kings.
(Spoiler Alert……NO SLOW, SAPPY LOVE SONG BALLADS!!)
Kicking things in the teeth is the opening song, “I Am the Dawn”. The riffs abound right out of the gate as the story unfolds to what I believe to be someone going out of their mind with self deceit. (A nightmare in its own rite). The main guitar riff sets the pace for the delivery of insanity, like being trapped in a straight jacket.
“Division” starts with a nifty triplet drum intro before the band slams into the main riff. This is a heavy set of lyrics that talk about how messed up people are as we give into the propaganda force fed to us by main stream media. Hating each other for our own political opinions and focusing on either side’s bad points, becoming more and more divided as a country. The funny part is that there’s one thing we agree on. When our freedoms are taken away, we all of a sudden care about the outcome. “No matter who you choose, the people always lose/ either side it’s all the same”.
Starting off with some floaty, clean arpeggio on guitar, “Beneath the Dream” comes descending like a creeping death. Musically, it has the atmosphere of a dream going bad, the vocals ebb and flow over the verses, and it has one of most intense guitar solos I’ve heard in a long time. The song is heavy without being hard and fast. The tempo is in the middle, but it’s driving and airy.
“Acedia” is another set of vocals that describe the nightmare of false religions. I can relate to this song in a lot of ways. The anger in this song parallels the feelings I used to have. The rhythms here are fierce, the axe work is as angry as the lyrics, Dylan sings through gritted teeth, and the arrangement is above perfect.
“Not My Own” is a song that is borderline depression and just continuing with how things are going. Being stuck in a dank place, dreaming of something better, some sort of escape, wondering if this is all there is to life. It’s all a bad dream that’s lived out, day by day. The tune is sullen like lyrics and the music revolves around the confusion.
When I first heard this next song, “Matricide”, I thought it meant “death by sleep in bed”. Then I looked it up. Boy was I shocked. I had no idea there was a word for a son or daughter to kill his/her mother. To me, I think the lyrics are how we’re killing the earth. We have wars, divisions, the cutting down of rain forests, poison in the waters, and so on. We are the ones killing “mother earth” and we will continue to kill her because it’s what we do the best. And that also is living out a nightmare.
“Shackled” is about one who seems the only way to live is to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. This is one the more hard core thrash songs on here. The music translates the feelings of exhaustion and self failure. Every beat seems to weigh down on your soul. The crushing rhythms are like giant hail stones. The vocals are sung contrary to the rhythm, adding a maddening intensity.
The last song almost had me fooled into believing it was an instrumental. The intro is jazzy until it breaks into a hard rock feel. Although “Severed” would make an awesome instrumental as a whole, the song in its entirety is flawless. It defines the feeling of utter failure and dealing with destroying everything good in your life. The helplessness of enduring such a fate is translated ideally in the music as one who has seen firsthand the demise and aftermath of self destruction.
To sum up this record in a word would be “Aggressive”. Okay, second word, “Powerful”, “Relatable”, to mention a third. These three young men have grasped on to the true meaning of metal and put together another arrangement of pure Thrash.
Downside is that it took almost three years to get the second release out. That’s about it for the downside.
Upside is that there are eight wonderfully written woeful tunes to bang your head to. Its blues in thrash form. Meaning it’s not supposed to make you feel good, it’s supposed to make you feel. Although the lyrics speak of nightmarish things, the music sees you through. Before writing anything down for this, I spent the last two weeks listening to the disc over and over. The first spin wasn’t enough. Every song spoke to me in some way. Songs from “Culling the Weak” were the same way for me. I encourage you to find both of these records and put them in heavy rotation to whatever you’re listening to.
In a great big nut shell, I give the new release, “Beneath the Dream” by Archer Nation, a big, fat 10!