No Man’s Land by Dream Into Dust (Review)

Derek Rush and crew do a good job of keeping the atmosphere tense without ramming it down your throat.

Let’s try something new. Rather than immediately tell you my impressions, I’m going to ask you some questions. That way, you can already have an opinion before I force you to read mine.

Here we have Dream Into Dust’s No Man’s Land, a 4 song EP released in 1997. First off, let me describe the cover art. The cover consists of two images: a bombed-out city from what I assume is the roof of a church of cathedral, due to the stone statue, and a picture of some trenches, the bodies of soldiers barely visible. The art on the disc itself is the body of a dead soldier, stretched across barbed wire. Does this imagery A) repulse you and wonder what kind of person thumbs through books to find these images or B) present a powerful image of ruin and decay, of man’s cruelty to man, and comment on the true nature of the world we live in?

Second question. What do you think of lyrics such as ​“We stand among the broken statues/​shadows in our eyes/​All around us the truth destroying the hollow echo of lies” (“The Lost Crusade”), ​“The sun is a black flower of despair/​Twelve rays shower the earth with shards from the void” (“Dissolution”), and ​“Faith and despair are one/​they drive us to the same ends” (“Seasons In The Mist”)? Do they A) sound silly and contrived, like the artist is trying too hard to be dark, eerie, and frightening (or reads too much H.P. Lovecraft), or do they B) hit you as powerful and moving, dovetailing quite nicely with the way in which you view the world?

Third question. Listen to the provided audio sample. Does it A) sound dark and disturbing, like something you’d expect to hear in an old Hammer horror film or from someone who needs to get out more, or does it B) create compelling soundscapes full of dark, yet powerful movements that create the backdrop for the emotional lyrics mentioned earlier?

If you answered ​“B” to any of the questions above, you’ll probably like this album, or at least see it as a good addition to your collection. While not too original — artists like Death in June and Les Joyaux De La Princesse have all done this kind of stuff — it’s fairly well done. It’s tense enough to stand up to fairly active listening, though if I subject music of this style to close scrutiny, it almost always fails to keep my interest.

However, Derek Rush and crew do a good job of keeping the atmosphere tense without ramming it down your throat. And although words like ​“experimental soundscape” usually cause me roll my eyes, I actually found the soundscapes more enjoyable than the song-oriented pieces, which is rare for me. I’ll admit that the lyrics do nothing for me. They just sound too much like the stuff I wrote when in my ​“goth” phase.

if you answered ​“A” to any of the questions above, you will hate this release. In fact, your reaction will probably be similar to that of my friend’s mom who was so concerned about my musical tastes that she wanted me to make her a mix tape so as to make sure my young soul wasn’t being unduly corrupted. I’d hate to hear what she’d think of this one.