DREAMGRAVE – Monuments I – The Anxious (Independent) DREAMGRAVE – Monuments I – The Anxious (Independent)

After their stunning ‘Presentiment’ album, a highlight of 2014, things have appeared to be pretty quiet in the Dreamgrave camp. (“Yes, it’s been a long time, but I won’t bore you with my yammering about constant line-up changes, unreliable musicians, financial havoc, etc…” sighs guitarist/vocalist Dömötör Gyimesi.) But out of the glare of the spotlight Hungary’s finest have been working on the first in a series of three EPs, the thinking probably being that three shorter (and quicker to record) releases will help maintain their profile better than the delay caused by working on and completing another full-length outing. As such, ‘Monuments I – The Anxious’ will (hopefully) soon be joined by two further releases ‘…The Mad’ and ‘…The Imperious’. I say ‘hopefully’ because although I’m not aware of the timescale yet, it’s worth pointing out that ‘…The Anxious’ is an extremely good body of work and one which it would pay anyone with an interest in contemporary progressive metal to add to their collection.

Three cuts offer three very different takes on how to write an accomplished song. Opener ‘Drop The Curtain’ – the shortest song on the CD, at just four-and-three-quarter minutes – is a beautiful ballad, the perfect vehicle for the haunting vocals of Mária Molnár, and despite the relatively short running time violinist Krisztina Baranyi, the aforementioned Gyimesi and keyboard player János Mayer all get to flex their muscles with brief but exciting solos . ‘Monuments’ kicks off all jaunty and swingtime, but over eight minutes it turns in to a particularly nasty beast with a range of male vocals and a smack-in-the-face riff which leaves you punch-drunk and reeling. And no, respite does not come at the halfway mark, despite the acoustic interlude: it’s just the calm before the storm. The CD plays out with ‘The Passing Faith In Others’, a true progressive metal fan’s dream with twelve minutes’ of twists and turns, light and shade, hope and despair, which winds down with a fabulously uplifting closing refrain.

Beautifully written and expertly executed, ‘Monuments I – The Anxious’ is undoubtedly one of this year’s highlights. News that they’re now signed to a label – thus taking some of the day-to-day pressures off and allowing them to concentrate on what they do best – is the icing on the cake. You won’t regret checking this band out – trust me on this.

© John Tucker December 2017