I absolutely love seeing bands put out independent music. Especially when it hits hard. Dreamshade is set to release their fourth studio album A Pale Blue Dot on Friday March 5, 2021. I was offered the opportunity to give it a spin before the big release and I’m more than glad I did!
“Safe Harbour” starts the record off in a big way. The intro has an engaging guitar riff that explodes and takes off. The riffs continue to back up the lyrics, which are exceptional in both heavy and clean style. I’m a huge fan of the layering of clean and heavy vocals in the chorus. This song is catchy, upbeat and sets a good tone for the record. “Lightbringers” is a strong track with heavy lyrics and distorted guitars at double time, and a chorus that features more clean vocals and ringing guitar tones.
“Question Everything” was the first released single and is one of the strongest songs on the entire album. It has a chant-like verse that builds into an over-the-top chorus. This song is catchy to say the least, and keeps up a heavy element throughout. The solo riffs are engaging and a huge moment for the track. I’m surprised this hasn’t blown up yet, but the song will undoubtedly get Dreamshade some attention.
“Step Back,” my favorite track on the record, starts off with a warning shot with lyrics, “Take a step back,” before exploding into one of the heavier songs on the album. The dual vocals between scream and clean really drive the track home for me. The layering is out of this world. “Stone Cold Digital” features Rose Villain, an Italian pop singer based in the U.S. The song has a rap/rock feel but keeps the heavy element in the background throughout giving a unique twist towards the middle of the record. Villain’s take on the chorus at the end is chilling and adds a solid layer to this track.
The verses during “Impulse” are engaging with clean guitar riffs that add melody over a heavy background and a heavy stop beat. The chorus is almost like a chant and I can see it echoing throughout a venue. “toD-euIB-eIaP-(A)” marks the mid-way point of the album and is a transitional track, using piano melody and effects behind spoken word. In the middle of the track, a heavier beat and effect picks up, shifting from a purely transitional palate-cleanser to a melodic intro/set change the band can (and should) lean on live!
“Shanghai Nights” brings the album’s pace back up. The vocals are solid and move from heavy to clean within a verse/chorus, which departs from the earlier parts of the album. Most impressive is the guitar/bass riff throughout the first verse: some of the most amazing unison riffs I have heard in a while. The double bass drives this one home when the tempo picks up. The layering in “Elephant” stands out and the lead guitar hits a few notes that almost ring slightly out of key. The heavy chorus is a nice change-up and adds dimension to the track. “Somewhere Else” opens with a wall of sound that is uplifting and engaging. The bass ‘slaps’ in the verse on the low tones are the highlight here for me.
“On My Own” is the second pre-released single and initially reminded me of old-school AFI. It has a punk rock, heavy feel for the intro with a grinding riff over top. The chorus is catchy and has a poppy crossover appeal before transitioning back to the heavy side. “Nothing but the Truth” features John Henry of Darkest Hour and is easily one of my standout tracks. It’s intense and has a crazy pace right out the gate. The drums and bass really push this one forward and the riff work throughout is insanity. The clean vocals are big and the feature takes it to a different level. “A Place We Called Home” starts out with a heavy introduction that feels like it’s about to explode. The track boasts a huge chorus that got stuck in my head for days.
“Save This” closes the effort and steals the show. There’s a group vocal featuring over 500 fans from 70 countries. That’s enough to make a song special, but this one shines even without it. The verse has excellent pace and a heavy build up leading to heavy vocals and a featured bass riff that gives me chills.
Simply put, A Pale Blue Dot rips. It boasts 14 tracks and a run-time of almost 50 minutes and I never felt disengaged throughout any of my listens. Pale Blue Dot keeps me banging my head and singing along every time.