Dreamshade – ‘A Pale Blue Dot’

By Dave Stewart

After a completely unpredictable and inconceivable year, Swiss metallers Dreamshade are back with their first full-length album in five years, ‘A Pale Blue Dot’. Recorded and produced during lockdown and largely inspired by the famous Carl Sagan book of the same name, the record sees them pick up where they left off with 2016’s impactful and lyrically uplifting record ‘Vibrant’, only this time they’re focused on something ever-so-slightly different.

Where ‘Vibrant’ focused on our personal relationships with family, friends and lovers, ‘A Pale Blue Dot’ drastically widens Dreamshade’s scope. Written during normality before the world really knew what was about to plague it, the band sought to take a deeper look at humanity, the planet and everything surrounding it, unknowingly creating an album that’s lyrically very fitting for these unprecedented times.

The record is a well executed blend of modern metalcore and the classic Gothenburg sound championed by some of metals most iconic bands. Songs like the dramatic and lively ‘Safe Harbour’, the frantic and melodically rich ‘Lightbringers’ and the vast and punchy ‘Shanghai Nights’ fit that mould like a tailored suit, every thread stitched to perfection to accent all the best features. That’s just three of the songs – there are 14 on offer here, and they’re all laced with gold.

‘Somewhere Else’ has the potential to incite mass singalongs in mere moments, boasting one of the most addictive choruses the record has to offer. ‘Step Back’ is a top-tier tour through modern metalcore complete with sights of catchy riffs, seamless changes of pace, a soaring chorus and a monstrous crowd-pleaser of a breakdown. ‘Impulse’ is a furious hybrid of a ballad and a pit monster, blending circle-pit intensity with heartfelt and captivating vocals – a formula that’s also borrowed for ‘Elephant’, toying with the dynamics throughout and introducing aggression in completely different places.

‘Save This’ is a sublime balance of sorrow and euphoria, ‘On My Own’ is an upbeat neck-snapper, ‘Question Everything’ is a fun yet furious anthem – it’s just big hitter after big hitter. Aside from a couple of unexpected, almost out-of-place hip-hop styled moments, the whole record is beautifully put together. But, that said, there are a couple of diamonds that glisten just a touch brighter than the rest, and they both happen to feature guest performances.

The first is ‘Stone Cold Digital’, an unforgiving bruiser with thick, dark undertones and a menacing, ominous vibe that carries through from the opening moments right through to the monolithic closing moments. The vocals are especially luscious here as the choruses caress your soul, especially those that feature Italian singer Rose Villain and her velvety, serene tones.

’Nothing But The Truth’ is the other, and it’s endlessly goosebump-inducing. Technically astounding, rhythmically unforgiving, vocally infectious – it’s an unrelenting display of musical prowess made even sweeter with an impassioned vocal performance from Darkest Hour front man John Henry. Guest spots done well, metalcore done right – this is a tremendous return to form.

Try to picture what In Flames might sound like if they leaned a little more into metalcore territory – this is pretty damn close to what you’d hear. Dreamshade have created a spectacular collection of hard-hitting songs with the ability to both stir pits into a frenzy and summon mass participation from enthusiastic, adoring onlookers. It’s tight, polished, catchy, expansive, weighty and everything in between. This record is an absolute delight and, if you’re a fan of metalcore, should be an immediate addition to your must-listen list.

DAVE STEWART

Three more album reviews for you

Holding Absence - 'The Greatest Mistake of My Life'

Out Of Love - 'Funny Feeling'

Muttering - 'Don't Think About It'