The only thing better and more exciting than the idea of a new Dream Death record is the fact that it's actually pretty incredible.

Dream Death has always been a standout band to me, even before I was a true fan of doom metal. One of a large handful of bands of their time who bothered to sound truly original and unique, write some damn good songs at it. They were also one of those mysterious flash in the pan bands. They released one incredible record, "Journey Into Mystery" in 1987, and almost immediately ended up losing members and reforming as Penance, another great band, but one I have not had an emotional connection to the way I have Dream Death. (Penance also begat the otherworldly Argus, but that's another story)

Listening to "Journey Into Mystery" today, it sounds like a beta blueprint of countless bands who have come after. I would not be shocked if Obituary used this band (along, obviously, with Celtic Frost) as the basis of their sound. They also predate sludge metal while showing many similarities; barked vocals, mixtures of hardcore punk, thrash and Black Sabbath worship.

When you hear a fantastic band is putting out a new record after 25 years, there is little to do but wait anxiously. How incredibly easy is it to shatter the reputation you've had for that long? Apparently, in Dream Death's case, it's pretty hard. This new record, Somnium Excessum, is a relief, and a masterpiece.

Despite a darker, slightly less raw tone, the intensity is still as present as ever, and the updated production values are more than welcome. What is also welcome is the music which has changed very little from the first record. Complex riffs snake back and forth, occasionally dropping a pure headbanging fury moment (the end of "Them".....wow). The vocals are still gruff, but also still clear and up front, still giving the songs a raw, punkish edge.

I can't think of any true complaint about this record other than the length. If the songs weren't lengthy, it would basically be an EP. I demand more! It's a perfect companion piece for its younger brother record, and shows passion, maturity, controlled and logical progression, and just plain smokes.

Top spots: "Them" and "You're Gonna Die Up There"