Inanimate Existence are Calling from a Dream, and You Should Probably Hang Up

One of the most vivid dreams I ever had came to me several years ago, and I remember it clearly to this day. At the time, I worked as a morning cook in a small post-op healthcare and physical rehabilitation facility. My job was simple: make a couple large batches of some staple breakfast foods, check the patients’ meal tickets for any special dietary requirements, and serve them accordingly. This dream I had was the night before one of those shifts, and came to me right at the edge of sleep; not quite sleeping, but not quite awake. In it, I stood in the small kitchen by the dining room and was serving food to the patients. It was extremely detailed, but that was it; no preamble, no dreamlike oddities, nothing special- just me doing my job. I forced my eyes open after a minute or so, refusing to let my day be bookended by kitchen duty. The dream was very detailed, yes, but it was also one of the most profoundly boring ones I’ve ever experienced.

This, unfortunately, is the same feeling I get from Calling from a Dream, the latest offering from Inanimate Existence. The album’s title and concept promise a strange journey through the world of dreams, an adventure across a hostile mindscape as the soul of the narrator’s deceased lover calls to him from beyond. There’s so much potential for experimentation in a narrative set in the unconscious, so many sounds a band can explore, but it’s squandered here on ideas that have already been done more proficiently by other bands. Great care was taken with a lot of the smaller details of the music, but it feels like the band lost sight of the larger picture in their effort to carve out those details.

Let’s take a look at the title track, which serves as a perfect overture for the album and thus illustrates all of my problems with it. The first thing that’s established is the lover’s motif, built on soothing clean guitars laden with effects and minimal input from the rhythm section. Singer Adrianna Tentori lends her voice as the spirit, and it’s with these sung sections that the first problem appears. I initially thought I simply didn’t like her voice, but it became apparent on repeat listens that my issue is actually with how her voice is used. First off, she doesn’t sit well in the mix, both from an engineering and thematic standpoint. Her voice is the only part of the music that has any dynamics to it; everything else at all times is at an even volume, so Tentori is occasionally buried almost completely or blazes like a sun over the rest of the band. Thematically, she feels too real; whereas everything else has been engineered to have a dreamlike quality, her voice is almost completely organic. I’m usually all for that, but it actually works against the music in this case. For comparison, listen to Tori Letzler’s parts in Fallujah’sThe Void Alone” (from their album Dreamless. Coincidence? You decide). Regardless of how you may feel about the track, there’s no denying that Letzler fits. Her voice has received the same treatment as the rest of the band and therefore blends cohesively with the rest of them.

The second major issue with Tentori’s parts are the melodies. They are rarely presented as a complete idea, wandering aimlessly before resolving at the last second. It feels like they were written on either a guitar or a piano and handed off to her without consideration of how it would sound sung rather than plucked. Perhaps the biggest issue is the placement of these clean sections. They crop up far too frequently, removing any sense of danger presented by the heavier parts of the music. This might seem like a silly complaint, but it ruins the vitally important narrative pace on an album that relies so heavily on the music’s direct interaction with the story for emotional impact. I understand all this might have been done intentionally; the spirit might be more solid in the dreamer’s mind than anything else, her messages might be purposely odd-sounding to reflect the nature of the dream, and she might show up frequently to remind the dreamer that she’s never too far out of reach. These are all really good ideas, but they’re implemented to such an extreme that it ruins the experience, especially the pacing issue; it’s hard to take the protagonist’s battle with a guy in flaming armor seriously (“Pulse of the Mountain’s Heart,” below) when you know that safety is right there.

All of this aside, tech death and progressive death metal relies so heavily on instrumental skill and acuity that these issues could be overlooked if the rest of the music was solid. Unfortunately, it’s not. Most of the leads feel like Fallujah Lite™, relying largely on drawn-out octave-doubled pentatonic scales with tremolo bar dips on each of the downbeats. The riffs have largely been reduced from the clever dances of past albums to djenty chugs and poorly timed breakdowns, both of which are frequently interrupted by the aforementioned clean sections. I’ve never been keen on vocalist Taylor Wientjes’ vocal phrasing, and these bizarre pacing issues serve to highlight that further.

Thankfully, mercifully, it’s not all bad. “The Arcane Crystal” and “Shore of Rising Shadows” retain more than just trace elements of the band’s past sound and make good use of both the clean vocals and synths. Despite the annoying vocal cadences, the lyrics are better than most of their peers. Guitar solos are very tasteful and well-written when they pop up, and when the chugging riffs actually land, they land hard. There are some genuinely skin-crawling moments when they line up with a clean guitar backing and a synth, but all these parts are few and far between. The album as a whole suffers from the same issue as the opening track, illuminated by a handful of bright spots. They are brief discrepancies in the cooking dream, momentarily distracting me from dutifully portioning out bland oatmeal and toast.

I apologize for the wall of text, but Inanimate Existence are one of my favorite tech death bands and it pains me to pick them apart like this. I tried very hard to like this album, but it never resonated with me. Some of you will appreciate the music far more than I did; I already know some of you who do. However, there are too many things that hold this back from its fullest potential, thus earning it:

2/5 Conflagrant Latrines ov Hades


Calling from a Dream is out this Friday, September 16th, via Unique Leader. You can follow Inanimate Existence on Facebook; stop by and tell them I still love them no matter what.

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Ouch, the artwork alone would hurt my bowels, as well as the djentesque “riffs”. Honestly sounds like rubber bands. Flat tone and boring.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    “Calling From A Dream” starts awkward and the intro segues poorly into the rest. That part at 2:30 is super-irritating and bad and it goes on for a hecking minute. Instant boner-killer (if I had had a boner in the first place that is).
    “Pulse of The Mountain’s Heart” has much better ideas and execution, but apart from a few lone moments it’s very meh.

  • Eliza

    The clean vocals are really out of place here. I seldom complain about clean vocals in metal, but I feel that they don’t go together with this band’s sound. Otherwise, the rest is just aggressively bland.

    • Brutalist_Receptacle


      • Eliza

        I’m sure you’re perfectly mediocre.

        • Brutalist_Receptacle


  • Sounds like some solid third-tier-Fallujah-micmic’ers, mixed with some solid 5th generation-Winds-Of-Plague-core, with a dash of Born of Osirisbuttz, baked in the oven for 5 hours, and then forgotten.


    • Back when I was a drinker, I would occasionally bake a frozen pizza in the oven, and then pass out. I bet the end product matches your description noicely

      • Scary stuff, man. My first house I bought I had two of my buddies rent from me. When I was out of town for the weekend they put chicken in the oven, passed out, and feel asleep for 8 hours. By the time they woke up, the fire alarm was still going, the chicken was vaporized, and the house smelt like a pile of burnt ass for an entire week. Scary

        • Yessir, burnt ass odor suuuuure likes to linger. You’re lucky it was just one week.
          BTW, you said vaporized, lol. *Vapes*

          • Abradolf Lincler

            My old lady is bad for this. came home from work a couple months ago and the stovetop was still on from when she made tea in the morning

          • Another reason to not drink tea. lol

      • Haha! Holy shit, I remember those days. I was such a fat drunken piece of shit.

        • Sounds insane in retrospect right? Glad our respective houses are still standing!

          • I used to leave the stove burners on too. I’d pass out and wake up and the burners would just be running. So stupid, it really is amazing that I never burned the place down.

          • Tampaxon, Flusher Of Gods

            Done that more than enough times when getting passed out drunk. Thankfully I’ve had electric stove tops over the last few years, or yeah, the house would’ve gone up in flames. One of my friends stayed over at my old place years back (I had a gas powered stove) and put his wet pants on an open stove door right before he passed out drunk. I ended up kicking him out quite forcefully, and thankful we didn’t both die of carbon minoxide poisoning.

      • Waynecro

        I rarely bothered cooking anything when I was a heavy drinker (I sometimes thawed little pizza rolls enough to eat just by sitting on them for a while), but I used to black out while holding a full drink pretty often. I ruined one PlayStation 2 that way.

    • Ayreonaut

      Buttz of osiris

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    This is a very honest review Spear, good work. I liked how you noted they were a favorite of your’s, it really adds to the sincerity. Sorry to hear you were let down

  • W.

    This was a really solid review.

    • Spear

      But it doesn’t make me feel solid.

  • You can’t say bad things about bands I like on the internet! For real though, this was a good review and now im nervous about listening to it because you used that djent word. I don’t like that word.

    • Spear

      If you’re okay with the opening of “Pulse” and the middle part of “Calling,” you’ll probably like it just fine.

  • Hopefully Virvum won’t disappoint.

    • That one track you tagged me in was 🔥🔥🔥

  • Ah, hell, that track from TDT the other week got me really excited for the rest of this album, but if what you say is true… Inanimate Existence always struck me as a band who were this close to getting it, maybe by their third or so they’d have their sound fine-tuned, finally… Sad to hear that isn’t the case this time around 🙁

    • Spear

      I don’t fault them for experimenting. I just hope album 4 feels a little more complete.

      • Oh I don’t either, it’s what makes their music compelling. I just wish they mixed the ingredients right this time around.

  • I think you should have added half a flaming toilet ov hell for the sweet flying jellyfish art.

  • This definitely identifies one of the single most important aspects of music and how it can make or break you. The clean vocals are just kinda there. While they are performed well, nothing grabs you about them. Vocals always will be for me the final element that puts an artist over the top. If that is lacking in anyway, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and your listeners.

  • Well, at least we still have new Mithras coming up next month…

    • That title track sounds like poor STD names or something. . .

      • Those are my first and last names IRL

  • This was an enjoyable reading, very concise and to the point with the flaws you detected. Great work, and thanks for making me skip this one!

  • Stockhausen

    Time for some tough love, Inanimate Existence. The Spear hath spoken.

  • Abradolf Lincler

    KSOFM was rite. this band has just become a trumped up djent band. “boing b-boing b boing boing . . .” Sounds like every other djent band out there.

    • Spear

      When the album comes out, I do recommend looking up those two tracks I mentioned towards the end. They’re much better than the rest.

      • Abradolf Lincler

        i just dont see how they went from A Never Ending Cycle . . . to this. they lost some members rite? but geez

        • Spear

          Both the guitarists are still there, so I don’t know what the deal is. They changed vocalists, so I guess my issue is less with Taylor and more with how they’ve always handled the vocal delivery.

  • Too bad this didn’t click with you. But really, this article is positively stellar. Amazing writing, un-inanimate Spear

  • When it comes to modern tech death, I’m hard pressed to find anything better than Deviant Process. But yes, definitely some choice guitar solos on this one.

  • Waynecro

    Excellent honest review, Spear. I like what I’ve heard of the album so far; however, it sounds like something I’d listen to postworkout rather than intraworkout. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I can sing along with the clean sections in the shower.

    • Spear

      That’s the thing; I still think everyone should give this a listen when it comes out. I know a couple other people who’ve heard the full thing already and absolutely swear by it, and I like the ideas presented on it. It just didn’t sound fleshed out enough to my ears. I suspect the followup will change that, though.

  • JWEG

    Latrine ov Hades, huh. I expect many more synonyms to start popping up from now on; though I honestly figured they’d appear first in the form of fan sites.

    I hereby lay claim to one specific multilingual (dead language/Metal Latin) pun: Cultus ex Barathro

    I’ll probably wind up just writing for this site sooner than making my own though. I’m not sure I’d get much of an audience with a fan site entirely written in badly-translated Latin.

  • Jack Rabbit

    There’s nothing I like more over my generic breakdowns than a pointlessly noodly piano.

  • Every time I read a Spear review I think: Oh, this is how it’s supposed to be done.

    • Spear

      Are you kidding? Your reviews make me want to quit writing. I can break things down from a technical standpoint, but that’s about it.

      • Serious. You strike an optimum balance between being informative and eloquent. Your reviews flow so nicely.

  • Count_Breznak

    Well, as I wrote in my end of year notes 2014:
    Inanimate Existance – The Rune of Destruction effortlessly is the worst acoustic experience of the last few centuries, including parallel dimensions.