The people of Revolver are hosting the stream of the album. Do check it here.
Now, for our review, but first a little rant. Feel free to skip it if it feels a bit tl;dr.
There’s a group of people being quite vocal about the production of the album, claiming that a leaked demo sounds better than the finished product. I haven’t listened to said leak, but unless someone held a gun to the head of each member of The Dreaming, then this is how they wanted the album to sound and on that basis, the review won’t go into comparing the album to the leaked demo; it’s unfair to the band that put so much effort to polish their art. This is their choice and if they are happy with it, let it be. If you are one of the people who prefer the demo and you have it, listen to that one and relish the music and the very emotional, heartfelt lyrics. It’s not a “the suits made them do it” situation, it’s a conscious decision. More the power to the band, some of us wish we had such creative control over our endeavours.
But enough rants, let’s go into the industrial grittiness (that hides some deeply emotional lyrics) that is Puppet. Opening track ‘Puppet’ is very standoffish and energetic. Chris Hall’s marvellous voice still is in top form and makes a certain track by Depeche Mode his own. Drummer Johnny Haro gets a chance on the limelight very early on the album with ‘Every trace’. Awesome drum intro (and great mix too).
The one-two punch rope a dope comes from ‘There will be blood’ and ‘End in tears’. It’s a fantastic combination, with ‘There will be blood’ sounding for a few moments like symphonic metal (the intro, baby) and with enough electronica elements peppered in to never intrude too much into your rocking experience (but the again, it’s a good match). The ending is haunting (music boxes always scare me).
‘End in tears’ is one of the “holy shit!” moments in Puppet. The industrial rawness is there, with Johnny Haro‘s steady, firm beat making it menacing enough. On a first spin, my favourite, no argument. The solo is brilliant. Heck, someone give Wesley Snipes a shot at Blade IV and use this one as the soundtrack for a chase in a dark, rain drenched alleyway.
Sorry, slight distraction. If you want some industrial rock done the right way, there are two prime cuts waiting for you in the later half of the album. ‘Stitches’ is relentless and ‘Solo Crucifixion’ is the soundtrack of a thousand nightmares rolled up in one shadowy figure stalking you in the darkness, yes, the one you barely see in the corner of your eye.
Not all is a grinding process. There are quieter moments in some of the songs and those are the songs that felt the more complete. No problem with aggressive, no holds barred songs like ‘Breathing’ (which rocks), but it’s the quiet moments in songs like ‘Hole’ (which is beautiful) that give it a bit of a journey. It’s all about variation and although The Dreaming seem comfortable with their sound of their own in this sophomore album, it’s all about their previous identities (Econoline Crush, Stabbing Westward) meeting with their present forms, sharing a few beers and walking towards a new stage.
There is a noted change in from Etched in Blood and as the interview in Revolver magazine points, it’s a slight “back to basics” while still looking for a fresh sound. Look at it as 90s vintage industrial in the ipods of a thousand broadband babies seeking more about this and taking the genre with their own sensibilities and cultural nuances. Hopefully, they’ll find a bonding point in the lyrics and music of Puppet. It certainly has offered several to me so far.
Ps: Massive respect for this quote: “In the Dreaming we wanted to get back to that feeling of making music for ourselves. Not for a label or an A&R guy or a manager or even for fans, but just the music that we wanted to make” – Chris Hall.