I don’t normally give full reviews to EPs, but there are always exceptions to any rule. Honestly, I usually don’t have much to say about them, but the new EP from Hungary’s Dreamgrave has lots going on that I really didn’t expect. Their EP is called “Monuments”, and it released on October 26th.
Bands mature as they work longer together, and Dreamgrave is no different. Their older albums are more along the lines of progressive metal with lots of harsh vox. “Monuments” represents a different approach in important ways. While the progressive metal label does still apply, this release is far more eclectic, melodious, and inspired than anything I have heard from the band. The EP still contains heavier moments with big riffs, but also plenty of playful bluesy segments and folksy portions. This EP contains lots of musical space and harmonies that allow the music to grow and emote in exciting ways.
The band includes Dömötör Gyimesi on guitar and vocals, Tamás Tóth on drums, Mária Molnár on vocals, Krisztina Baranyi on violin, Péter Gilián on bass, and János Mayer on keys. The band, at their heart, are still progressive metal, and the heavier segments do deliver. Dömötör’s riffs show heft and excellent composition, really pulling you into the whole experience: I was really impressed with his restraint, as he only goes heavy when it makes sense.
I am also impressed with Péter and Tamás’ rhythm section, as it is full of life and class, but bulking up to meet the huge riffs head on. Krisztina’s violin and János’ keys are both very important to the overall sound, too, with the violin’s singular sound coming across as pining and nostalgic, whereas the keys sound mighty and atmospheric. Overall, the musicianship is outstanding.
The vocal performances on this EP are fantastic. Mária’s voice sounds great with lots of emotion and melody, while Dömötör provides a gritty contrast with some guttural sounds in the perfect places. This is Epica levels of awesome, in my opinion. One other thing to mention is that a significant portion of Mária’s performance is harmonization that is either in another language or does not consist of words at all. These tones are usually very haunting and wandering, but perfectly timed with the music.
“Monuments” only contains three songs, but they are all great. “Drop the Curtain” is a very melodic opener with beautiful violin weaving its way through the catchy main hook of the song. It is a lingering, gorgeous song. “Monuments”, the titular second track, follows and is a bluesy song that transitions from playful moments to the first truly heavy moments on the EP. This track is very eclectic and varied, and it might take you aback at first because of its outside the box nature.
“The Passing Faith in Others” ends the EP. It is a grand 10+ minute song that is fully infused with folk tendencies and almost a cinematic approach to structure. At times, this track feels like you are experiencing a theatrical production with lots of atmosphere and passion, especially accented through the flute provided by guest Diána Czirkó. Near the halfway mark, Mária starts a vocal harmony that feels like an emotional ode of some sort, building the foundation for the big finale. She holds this harmony into the climax of the song, and it all feels so sublimely inspired and majestic.
Dreamgrave has impressed me greatly with this new EP. “Monuments” is a hugely ambitious effort, even if it is only around 22 minutes long. This can be seen in everything from varied song structures all the way to the vibrant cover art. All three songs show character, maturity, and strong writing skills from this group, and I’m honestly really excited to hear their next full length album.
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