Power of Metal.dk Review

81 db
A Blind Man's Dream
Style: Alternative Progressive Rock
Release date: 28 October, 2013
Playing time: 54:45

81db is an alternative progressive heavy rock band hailing from Italy with the self-stated purpose of challenging modern ideas of how heavy rock music sounds. “A Blind Man's Dream” is the third album to come from them since their founding in 2006. While the album doesn't challenge heavy rock as much as it embraces it, this release is without a doubt a success of both style and substance that certainly plays with the tropes and traditions of heavy rock.

The first song, “Manicomium,” is quite characteristic of the style of this diverse album. It opens nicely with a romping guitar riff that is quickly transformed into an enjoyable metal riff using the same melody, and the song naturally flows from there. About four minutes in we are treated to some melodies clearly influenced by Middle Eastern music (especially helped by band founder Kostas Ladopoulos' bouzouki playing), but still with the central core of the melodies and riffs previously established in the minutes beforehand, and this doesn't last long before a mean guitar solo erupts.

This constant traveling between styles while maintaining a brand of consistency between Near East melodies and more western style metal is essentially this album in a nutshell: controlled chaos with some really great melodies and synergy between the instrumentalists. The music at times approaches a mathcore-esque style with its technicality and metallic feeling, but this is balanced by the occasionally beautiful foray into folk-style guitar work. And, despite the chaotic instrumentals, at the end of the day the writing in most of the songs on this album adhere to established and predictable song structures, which perhaps is more necessary given the unpredictable nature of the composition of the song sections themselves. It certainly helps to guide listeners expecting some amount of predictable structure.

The most diverse and unexpected portions of this album come from the composition and delivery of the vocals by William Costello. He goes from a fairly “normal” style of singing to injecting a ton of personality and character into his delivery. In “Sirens” he at times channels influences similar to Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, and all the better for it. Some may loathe that comparison but I think it really works here. This vocalist is very strong in a multitude of styles and the writing gives him a lot of space to show it off, thus always keeping me on my toes throughout repeated listenings. He particularly shines in songs like “Food for Thought” where he alternates between grimly muttering his lines to sounding like a twisted MC in an infomercial. And then there are moments like in “Electroshock” where all he does is scream as if he's in pain and it still works! He sounds like a less over-the-top Devin Townsend as Ziltoid in these moments and to me, at least, it's a lot of fun to listen to.

And this is definitely an album to be listened to multiple times. The listener is rewarded when they recognize recurring motifs in the music at several points throughout the nearly hour long journey. This melodies are often repeated with deliberate differences that are pleasing to compare. Even if you don't care as much as these structural triumphs in the writing, the music is so tight and so well done that “A Blind Man's Dream” can be enjoyed by a diverse audience.

01. Manicomium
02. Sirens
03. When the Cat's Away
04. Vanessa's Box
05. House Rules
06. Food for Thought
07. Electroshock
08. Alien Invasion
09. Insane Wishes
10. The Great Escape
11. A Blind Man's Dream
Label: Rising Records
Artwork rating: 75/100
Reviewed by: Frank Mondelli
Date: 7 December, 2014
Website: www.81db.net