Beyond the Wall of Sleep with Google Deep Dream


Philip K. Dick once pondered if androids dream of electric sheep. Despite our advances in transhumanism, we still have no answer for that question. However, thanks to the Google Deep Dream artificial neural networks, we may be getting a bit closer. As it turns out, computers do appear to dream of sheep and other animals, albeit warped in a distinctly Lovecraftian fashion. So what happens when you feed the neural network a metal album cover as a base image? Find out below.

Artificial neural networks are statistical learning models that use complex algorithms to assess and interpret various processes. They’re often used for identification or data mining, with applications in such disparate fields as traffic crash data analysis and medical trend testing. Google uses neural net models to train their image search algorithms, but the tech giant has recently reversed the functions of the neural networks in a process known as inceptionism where they allow their servers to analyze and interpret patterns in existing images. Horizons often get shifted into pagodas, trees into buildings, and leaves into birds and insects, with myriad other patterns emerging as well. However, the images are typical vague, much like the way our developing minds undergo pareidolia and identify faces and animals in clouds and wallpaper. In essence, when the neural nets are allowed to dream over an existing image, the algorithms modify the image into a new and surreal piece of art.

Lacertilian and I thought it would be an interesting exercise to see what sort of nightmares were produced if the Deep Dream neural networks were fed heavy metal album covers. The results do not disappoint. Together, we’re acting as Charon, ferrying you through the somnambulant inferno of electric sleep. Allow Black Sabbath‘s “Behind the Wall of Sleep” to be your soundtrack to the night terrors.



“Much depends on what people dream in the secrecy of their hearts. I have always been as concerned with the shaping of dreams as with the shaping of actions.” – Frank Herbert, God Emperor of Dune


Paysage d’HiverPaysage d’Hiver

“Cold be hand and heart and bone,
and cold be sleep under stone:
never more to wake on stony bed,
never, till the Sun fails and the Moon is dead.
In the black wind the stars shall die,
and still on gold here let them lie,
till the dark lord lifts his hand
over dead sea and withered land.”
– J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring


NocternityHarps of the Ancient Temples

“Dreams surely are difficult, confusing, and not everything in them is brought to pass for mankind. For fleeting dreams have two gates: one is fashioned of horn and one of ivory. Those which pass through the one of sawn ivory are deceptive, bringing tidings which come to nought, but those which issue from the one of polished horn bring true results when a mortal sees them.” – Homer, The Odyssey


Iced EarthBurnt Offerings

“The man who lies asleep will never waken fame, and his desire and all his life drift past him like a dream, and the traces of his memory fade from time like smoke in air, or ripples on a stream.” – Dante Aligheri, The Divine Comedy


SlayerSouth of Heaven

“The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.”
– John Milton, Paradise Lost


Mammoth GrinderUnderworlds

“Suddenly, I viddied what I had to do, and what I had wanted to do, and that was to do myself in; to snuff it, to blast off for ever out of this wicked, cruel world. One moment of pain perhaps and, then, sleep forever, and ever and ever.” – Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange


CynicKindly Bent to Free Us

“She had dreamed that she lay beneath a spreading tree somewhere, a tree that whispered with ten thousand soft lips of green; and the dream continued for a moment even after waking.” – Algernon Blackwood, Tales of the Uncanny and Supernatural


LeviathanScar Sighted

“No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence–that which makes its truth, its meaning–its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream–alone.” – Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness


The Red ChordPrey for Eyes

“And he lighted down from his horse, and took me by the arms with both his hands, and said, ‘If a man dream, to speak with dead men betokens profit. And art not thou of the dead, O Brandoch Daha?” – E. R. Eddison, The Worm Ouroboros



“I still get nightmares. In fact, I get them so often I should be used to them by now. I’m not. No one ever really gets used to nightmares.” – Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves


Lamb of GodAshes of the Wake

“Oh, the terrible struggle that I have had against sleep so often of late; the pain of the sleeplessness, or the pain of the fear of sleep, and with such unknown horror as it has for me! How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.” – Bram Stoker, Dracula



“The ability to dream is all I have to give. That is my responsibility; that is my burden. And even I grow tired.” – Harlan Ellison, Stalking the Nightmare



“The scariest, most terrifying thing that I fear?”
My Imagination.”
I thought you were going to say “Fear, itself.”
Then you have a small imagination.”
– Stephen King, The Dark Tower


DissectionStorm of the Light’s Bane

“We are all eaters of souls.” – Dan Simmons, The Terror


MetallicaRide the Lightning

“Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee, as for the time it did me. There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness.” Herman Melville, Moby Dick


Artificial BrainLabyrinth Constellation

“Maybe I’ll go where I can see stars, he said to himself as the car gained velocity and altitude; it headed away from San Francisco, toward the uninhabited desolation to the north. To the place where no living thing would go. Not unless it felt that the end had come.” – Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep


Black SabbathBlack Sabbath

“I have frequently wondered if the majority of mankind ever pause to reflect upon the occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which they belong. Whilst the greater number of our nocturnal visions are perhaps no more than faint and fantastic reflections of our waking experiences—Freud to the contrary with his puerile symbolism—there are still a certain remainder whose immundane and ethereal character permits of no ordinary interpretation, and whose vaguely exciting and disquieting effect suggests possible minute glimpses into a sphere of mental existence no less important than physical life, yet separated from that life by an all but impassable barrier. From my experience I cannot doubt but that man, when lost to terrestrial consciousness, is indeed sojourning in another and uncorporeal life of far different nature from the life we know; and of which only the slightest and most indistinct memories linger after waking. From those blurred and fragmentary memories we may infer much, yet prove little. We may guess that in dreams life, matter, and vitality, as the earth knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that time and space do not exist as our waking selves comprehend them. Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.” – H. P. Lovecraft, Beyond the Wall of Sleep


Thanks to everyone who gave us suggestions for albums to submit. I hope you’ve enjoyed this view into the surreal world of artificial dreams. If you’d like to create you own slice of digital nightmare, submit an album to the servers of the Psychic VR Lab.

(All Photos Modified Courtesy of the Psychic VR Lab)

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  • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

    Some non-metal albums for our pals.

  • Dave Tremblay

    VOD: dogs, birds, and fish (ran through Deep Dream 8 times)

  • Bozamole Jim

    The Cynic one is exceptionally rad, but they’re all super cool.

    Sign me up for a robot brain.

  • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

    I still think that Abyssal and Misþyrming album artwork pair up the best together.

    Also that Misþyrming artwork comes from an already made piece of artwork for those who do not know. Malted Hate shared this with me. (Refresh for image)

    “John Martin – Satan Arousing the Fallen Angels”

  • I̞̥̲ͤ̔̿̈́͗̽̆ͅ ̸ͩͪ̾̎͌̒̐S̳̥͉͚̦͒͠E̠͇͍̣͋͊̎̎E̷͖̥͔͚͊͗͐͆̃̂ ͓̠̰Y̨̲̤̱̮̺͖͑̾́̓̈́ͧ̒Ờ̜͇͓̼̈̽ͧ̍Ǔ̱̔ͣ͛̓

  • Disgustache

    Slipping Into the Void. Sabbath is the shit.

  • Kevin Nash & Friends


    • Disgustache

      Paging Cybernetic Organism. You can collect on royalties now.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        “GAH!” in giant Impact font is going on the next TOH shirt.

  • This was a great idea, Lizard and Dubz.

    My favorites (and I think that were the most scary): Nocternity (I like how the system put the ear and the eyes of the figure), Leviathan (spoopy), Cynic (Giger+Venosa aborted child) and Dissection (the Slug Mount is awesome and nasty).

    • Disgustache

      The Leviathan one fits the music. Sooper spoop.

    • Lacertilinger

      I gotcha back Link!

  • Pagliacci is Kvlt

    I get the same effect by sniffing Hi-Liters at work.

    • Disgustache
      • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

        Oh, movie references.

        • Disgustache

          I should just change my account to be something like “Pop Culture Douchebag.” It’s pretty much all I do here anyways.

          • Disgustache

            Linked this for the last line at the end, anyways. “Movie references.”

          • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

            Ha, I was thinking of this exact one too.

          • Disgustache

            Meant for each other.

          • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

            Typically I’m not a huge Family Guy fan. But some of the 80’s references are awesome.

  • This is fucking awesome.

  • J.R.™

    Run the Toilet T-Shirt design through it!!

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    This is what the internet is going to do to everything when it escapes. Stem cells and nanite colonies. Help keep the internet locked up!

  • Disgustache
  • Google drops acid then turns everything into dogs and eyeballs.

  • I do not know about you all, but I am fairly certain that when I do dream, there is mostly boobs and none of this dog nonsense. lol

    • ME GORAK™


    • Le Tapir The Based

      I don’t see nice dreams. I only get nightmares.

      • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

        I tend to have nightmares fairly frequently.

        • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

          I either have nightmares of spinning out of control in my car in the woods with out hitting a tree or dreams of being mutilated. I have flying dreams too, but I usually die at the end. Sleeping can be exhausting.

          • Flying dreams are dope.

          • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

            They are hit or miss. I’m usually in control or out of control.

          • Dude, I inherited my great grandfather shotgun yesterday. 1920’s era single shot 12ga. I figured you would appreciate the story. I am pumped.

          • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

            Nice dude. Score!

          • I am pretty ecstatic at the moment!

          • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

            Pretty good condition?

          • My uncle restored it in the 80’s. It had been sitting neglected for a number of years…. when restored he worked out all the nicks and scratches from the stock (and re finished it) and re polished the barrel/receiver. It looks wonderful. Mechanically it is top notch. There is no slop to be seen in the break (break action). Firing pin, hammer, trigger are all exceptional!

          • Disgustache
          • /notapumpshotgun

          • Disgustache

            That’s actually super sick. Shotguns are a lot of fun. Stoked for you!

          • more beer

            That`s a very cool thing to come into.

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

            Jeeze, dude. My nightmares tend to be on more of an emotional level.

          • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

            Yeah, no joke. I have some really fucked up dreams. Every once in a while the flying dreams are fun though.

          • Disgustache

            Like the crushing realization and emotional weight of the country you left in ruins?

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

            I keep telling you people that it was Cheney’s fault.

          • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

            Have you had any dreams of him shooting you?

          • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

            Every night.

          • Disgustache

            I actually grew up right near Jackson Wyoming, and Cheney would frequently visit there, since that administration took more vacation that Jimmy Buffet.

            After the shooting incident, the people in Jackson had these orange hunting vests they would wear around that said “LOOK OUT. CHENEY IS HERE.”

          • Disgustache

            Those dreams are… a Blast.

          • The Fish Boz

            My dreams got way more bizarre this year. It’s interesting.

            I have been dreaming about my ex on a weekly basis, sometimes more than once a week, and usually in pretty ridiculous situations. I occasionally dream about being struck by tragedy, like getting shot or in a car accident like you said.

          • I got a lot of nightmares involving malandros kidpnapping my family.

          • Suck Me While I Poo

            And those dreams involve Liam Neeson?

      • Suck Me While I Poo


    • It’s a mixed bag with me. Sometimes I’m smashing out a hottie and other times I’m in a car that’s headed off a cliff.

      • Disgustache

        Do you ever have the wombo combo dream where you’re banging hot babes one after another and just when you wanna blow you realize the limo you’re in is suddenly falling through the air?

        That would be metal as fuck.

        • Unfortunately no, I’m usually stuck in one realm or the other.

      • Seems like you need to stick with the latter, bud.

  • The Great Old Ones are all up in the toilet today.

  • you know who would really like these? @deputydipshit:disqus

  • The Fish Boz

    I absolutely adored this post. I like my shit trippy and creepy.

    The Dopesmoker cover looks awesome, but my favorite were Cynic and Absu.



    • Disgustache

      Does Cybernetic get the royalties if there is more than one A?

      • DCLXVI

        more like a Bud Light Lime

        • CyberneticOrganism


      • CyberneticOrganism


        • Bitter (Tyree) Debra

          Chill out… Dickwad.

  • CyberneticOrganism
  • JW(E)G

    A week wait if I use the web interface, huh. I’m not that patient, but I also don’t want to download anything at the moment.

    I can imagine exactly what it would do to any of the things I just thought about submitting, though: more psychedelic dogs (which frankly I don’t understand – I thought the internet was all cats).

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

      Ours came in less than a week.

      • JW(E)G

        I’m keeping an eye on it just in case, but I’m still expecting a scale of ‘days’ rather than ‘hours’.

        • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer

          It did take a few days. I checked once or twice a day. I think we sent them in on Thursday, maybe.

  • This is some Bloodborne shit lol

  • JamesGrimm

    these are fantastic

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Awesome idea for a column btw

    • Dubzlinger, Malandro Slayer


  • Suck Me While I Poo