Very few albums this year will excited me as much as the release of Dreamer. I became a huge fan of Haste the Day as they reached their mainstream success, several years ago, after hearing the song “Substance” and Burning Bridges. With those days long in the past, Jimmy Ryan departed the band and went on to form fellow Solid State group Trenches. In his absence, the group recruited vocalist Stephen Keech, who immediately incorporated his performance style. Unlike Ryan, Keech was able to harmonize and kick up a guttural, demonic growl that didn’t make my ears hurt; he made Christcore enjoyable for even the most casual listener.
- "68" - 3:26
- "Mad Man" - 3:33
- "Haunting" - 4:01
- "Resolve" - 2:54
- "An Adult Tree" - 5:10
- "Babylon" - 3:29
- "Invoke Reform" - 3:03
- "Sons Of The Fallen Nation" - 3:20
- "Labyrinth" - 2:35
- "Porcelain" - 3:28
- "Autumn" - 3:02
With Dreamer, I can say that Haste the Day has not departed from the strengths of Pressure the Hinges; yet they didn’t do much to repair any of the weaknesses. On Dreamer, they stick to what they do best: overt Christian lyrics with a grinding bass line and driving drums, brought home to you by Devin Chaulk. His work is as concentrated as ever, and you can easily tell how much he has grown between Pressure the Hinges and now.
Despite the strong characteristics of this album, there are several cavernous flaws. Bass and guitar, well, they’re still the same as they’ve been: mediocre at best. However, since the recording of Dreamer, lead guitarist Jason Barnes exited the band, due to spiritual differences between members. This gives me hope that the band can correct these flaws in future works, despite pledges to remain as a quartet. Secondly, the album barely touches a length of 38:01, which is an extremely short exercise in tedium. Pressure the Hinges was a whopping ten minutes longer (twenty if you had the bonus tracks), which makes a difference when you’re shelling out $10 for the album.
I, also, took issue with how the disc was mixed. The end of the album is loaded with three “lighter” tracks, namely “Autumn”. Dreamer opens with the intensity of two standout tracks on the album: “68” and “Haunting.” They are clean, polished, and classic HtD tunes; ones you can’t help but nod your head to and want to listen to over again. Because of that, they garnished hundreds of thousands of plays on MySpace before Dreamer hit the shelves. They do a strong job at leading into the heart of the album.
Sandwiched, between the aforementioned tracks, is “Mad Men”, the albums lead single and, probably, my least favorite track on the album. It’s chaotic, not structured well, and the lyrics are some of the weakest in the catalog. Hardcore fans of the band will like it, but I don’t think it was the right choice for a single or to be placed at the #2 spot. As I mentioned before, the end of the album is back-loaded with the lighter tracks; “Mad Men” would have done its best work there. The song that would work best as a single: “An Adult Tree”, which has won over my affections as Best Track. It’s as much as a “ballad” that this band should ever do.
“Resolve” is a pretty generic metalcore track, with a kickass opening. It’s similar to most of the work from Pressure the Hinges, so it’s not going to take anyone by surprise. The chorus, though: weak. It goes from driving drum work into “Resolve! Resolve!” and the transition makes me cringe every time. “Babylon” displays the best string work on the album as it opens; my initial thoughts were that it reminded me of the first few bars of the Entourage theme. Despite the amazing opening, the rest of the song doesn’t carry very well.
I absolutely love “Porcelain” from start to finish. The lyrics and the setup of the song are strong, and that demonic growl of Keech gives me a bit of chills. There are a few elements on this track that reminded me of Norma Jean. This is the perfect transition into the biggest treat for Haste the Day fans: the acoustic number, “Autumn.” When this was announced as part of the track listing, I think aficionados creamed their pants in unison.
The biggest mainstay of the album has to be the vocals; I would be amiss not to mention that. Anyone who listens to “Autumn” should be immediately entranced by Keech’s ability to go from demon to saint in the matter of a moment. Despite being a re-recorded track from the self-released EP That They May Know You, Keech pontificates what was originally Ryan’s best harmonized vocal work, and Keech makes what was already beautiful even more astounding. The last line of the album, spoken by studio mates: “I think you nailed it. That was awesome” sums up the transformation of the track and the album.
Pick up Dreamer, in stores as of October 14.