Album review by William Dibble of Panfocal Photography
Friction Lives is the new album by Dreaming Awake, a metalcore band that hails from Tucson, Arizona. Dreaming Awake is composed of four members, and seeks to “capture the essence of Pop and RnB” with their music. Friction Lives is their first full length album, and goes to considerable lengths to achieve those goals.
“It Lives” is a short introductory song that starts off with a dancey, pop-like vibe. Halfway through, you can hear the guitar work begin to come in, and then the heavy, screaming vocals. Nobody would fault you for being surprised when the track switches genres, as it comes entirely out of the blue, before melting into the drum fill that starts “Friction”. Between the latter half of the introductory song, and this one, the mood of the album is clearly set. The clean vocals sound perfectly at home during the choruses of “Friction”, offering a stark contrast to the screamed vocals.
“The Revenge of Regina George” drags you straight into the mosh pit. It is a song that inspires the listener to mosh, swing fists, and dance from the get-go. It has a stop-and-go beat to the beginning that disappears and returns at varying points throughout. Throw in some happy-sounding, high notes from a keyboard, and you have a very unique song that also blends musical themes popular in modern pop music. Meanwhile, “Acta Non Verba” promises a bit of a mellower ride. While the song features screamed vocals, it is also a much gentler track overall, with a heavier emphasis on a persistent rhythm and clean vocals.
“Devil Skin” and “Empty Avenues Lead to Bad News” are more of the same, sounding fairly similar in composition to “Acta Non Verba”. “Support Group”, however, offers a unique take on metalcore. The mix of slow-and-fast certainly grabs your attention and warrants listening. There are parts of the song that almost crawl, and others that sprint along at breakneck speeds. “There’s Something In The Air”, like “Devil Skin” and “Empty Avenues”, does tend to follow traditional metalcore tropes. However, that does not mean it is a bad track. Even when following the crowd, Dreaming Awake manages to push out powerful, evocative songs.
“This World Ain’t Big Enough” is a complete change of pace in the album. This song features almost entirely pop-like clean vocals and a happy sound to the instruments. When the screaming starts, it gives it even more emphasis, because it is completely at odds with the rest of the song. This is, however, a good thing, not a bad thing, as it lends the track a truly unique sound amongst the rest. “Tranquility Lane” borrows from “Support Group” in some areas, especially in the stop-and-go nature of the instruments during verses. This song’s lyrics also begin to stream together into more rant than verse, which lends it an interesting sound. Closing out with “Smooth or Not, Diamonds Still Scratch”, this album ends on a heavy note.
For the most part, Friction Lives is a very well balanced album. Parts of it certainly achieve their goal of genre-bending, with clear influences from both pop and RnB present, as promised, throughout. As previously said, even when the album follows along traditional metalcore routes, it is still a powerful release. It is certainly worth buying a copy from one of their sources, and keeping an eye out for future releases.
Friction Lives is available from multiple sources at this link: http://smarturl.it/ukaasp