On their debut split EP with Monster Movie, Dreamend treaded a similar ground as many post-rock bands, but did it with enough flourishes that made me wonder where they would take things next. On their debut album As If By Ghosts, both their songwriting and craft have grown a great deal, making for a near-great album that again treads somewhat similar ground as other groups have done before, but pulls everyting together in a way to make it sound revolutionary at times.
One of the bands that one could draw comparisons to might be Explosions In The Sky (for the lovely dynamic shifts and absolutely huge walls of guitars), but this time around the group has also encorporated vocals and it actually works quite well adding another human layer to the music that many instrumental rock outfits don't seem to want to go near. "Of Ravens And Winds" opens the disc with quiet strums of guitars layered alongside ebowed guitars, and even though the vocals feel a bit fragile, it serves as a nice lead in to the release as "Ellipsis" takes similar elements and piles on chimes and a mountain of shimmering guitars.
In fact, the first half of the album feels like one slow crescendo as "Four Days In May" marches on towards something more potent yet, closing out with great multi-tracked vocals and another haze of guitars before "The Almighty" wastes no time in laying waste with a blistering full-on attack of pummeling drums and guitars. From there out, the group mixes things up a bit and fortunately succeeds most of the time. "The Old House & Its Occupants" is yet another in a long line of quiet-to-loud guitar-led instrumental rock tracks, but damn if the group doesn't make it sound invigorating once again.
At their worst, the group can be accused of sounding like a Smashing Pumpkins b-side and they stumble a bit during the midsection of the album with the vocal-led "Can't Take You" and the odd "Slide Song" (both of which try something a bit different and don't entirely succeed). And so, the group is at their best when they let their instruments do the talking, as on the maelstrom to quiet tempest "10 Guitars From Salem." I have to say that I'd also be slacking if I didn't mention the lovely packaing, which is again hand-made, including an inset photograph that is unique to each individual CD. An excellent debut from a group who's managing to do some original stuff in a very crowded genre.