Black metal has, even since the days of BATHORY and BURZUM, been the enclave of the solitary, and there’s a better than likely chance that, in 2023, the solo practitioners of the art far outnumber more traditional bands. Not so, the realm of doom. Or, in the case of Illinois’ DREAMS OF GRAY, a death/doom hybrid. Austria’s SELENITE comes to mind, the funereal liturgy of Italy’s NOCTU, but the genre as a whole lends itself to collaboration, strangely; a camaraderie of the sorrowful, if you will. Misery does love company, after all.

More active in ABOLISHER of the mid-‘90s to mid-‘00s, Luis Rivera takes the helm of DREAMS OF GREY. ‘Performance V Justice’ is our introduction, and I’m instantly on board with the guitar tone. Forging forward, definitely more the “death” side of death/doom from the start, the guitars somehow both suppressed and slicing, staccato riffing over driving rhythm and Rivera’s alternate clean/rumbling vocals. It’s 1990 and we’re in a West Yorkshire, England rehearsal room, folks, if you get my drift.

Not stopping to catch its breath, ‘Life In Gray’ continues the assault, leaning way heavier on death that I expected, but definitely enjoyable. While Rivera’s clean vocals could use a bit more confidence overall, they’re well-placed, slightly behind the harsh in the mix, an accent more than a focal point. At 4:18 we get our first foray into more doom’ed realms, but just in time for the tune to bleed into the closing title track.

And bleed it apparently has, the coda somber, the forlorn aspect I’d been anticipating from the start. There’s work to be done in the clean delivery, still, but the heart is there, and I believe it’ll come to fruition as Rivera figures out what DREAMS OF GRAY actually is. There’s more going on under the surface in The World After than can be grasped in a cursory listen, of that there’s no doubt. Also, by keeping the songs shorter, the 15 minutes or so length of the EP gives an ideal snapshot of the project at its inception. For myself, I’m interested to see where DREAMS OF GRAY goes next.
Review By: Lord Randall

The World After [EP]
3 / 6