On its second album “Dream Deceiver” Dead Head reached a level of composition, and production values that finally lived up to its stellar live reputation. The band still played incredibly fast, and technical thrash metal but this time around everything was controlled better. Although the overall pace is lower, the album remains rabidly intense otherwise. Enforced by a superior drummer, and Tom Van Dijk adopting a deeper, but but not any less gnarly, biting or venomous vocal style Dead Head released its definitive statement. “Dream Deceiver” was the second of two Dead Head albums to be released through German label imprint Bad Taste Recordings and Intercord Record Services.
New drummer Marco Kleinnibbelink was less frantic, and chaotic than Hans Spijker, but technically far superior in terms of fills, footwork and general composition. He would take his leave after the independently released “Promo 1995” demo. The songs are densely structured with more fluent transitions, the band’s patented explosive guitar leads/solos, and rapid start-stop sections. All are integrated far more naturally into each of the tracks. The songs sound not nearly as disjointed as some of the more frantic material from “The Feast Begins At Dawn”. In fact the flow of the record is one of its greatest strenghts. Prior to these recordings a promo tape was cut including the tracks ‘Ambiance Of Evil’ (that later became ‘House Of Ambiance’), ‘I Or the Needle’ and ‘Crimson Remains’. ‘Repulsive Emission’ is a track detailing the dangers of information technology. The remainder of the tracks deal with the nefarious influence of religion.
One of the highlights of the album is the uniformly breakneck ‘Unholy’ that pulls the “The Feast Begins At Dawn” songwriting style into the band’s current creative paradigm. Not only has the track one of the best accelerations, it also has some very impressive drum chops by new recruit Kleinnibbelink, and veritably thundering bass licks. ‘Dream Deceiver’ has some very concrete rhythm sections, and a stellar emotive lead or two. The second half of the record is introduced by the slower, but not any less intense, ‘I Or the Needle’. The track deals with substance abuse, isolation and depression. ‘Crimson Remains’, as ‘Unholy’ before it, is custodian to a pair of fiery leads, and an explosive acceleration during its second half. ‘Shifting Sands’ is an instrumental moodsetting piece in tradition of ‘The Tribulation’ from the debut that was released two years prior. ‘Dying Angels’ is much slower fare once again, but Dead Head manage the style flawlessly. ‘Spiritual Suicide’ ends the album on a high note with its marvellously controlled chaos.
One aspect to take umbrage with on the band’s debut record was its overly dry and thin production. Dead Head understandably moved to a different studio location for this session, although they maintained a working relation with long-time producer Berthus Westerhuys. “Dream Deceiver” was recorded at Westerhuis Audio with Gert Stegeman, and Bertus Westerhuys manning the console. The record comes with a superior bass-heavy production with a lot of body, texture and depth. The instruments are balanced better against each other, with greater emphasis put on the booming bass guitar – and commanding drums with powerful kickdrums and cymbal crashes. The rhythm guitars possess far more crunch, and bite with increased levels of density, clarity and definition for the leads and solos. A lot of more attention was given to vocal production, and Tom Van Dijk’s serpentine rasps were now more malevolent sounding than on “The Feast Begins At Dawn” bordering on almost death metal territory in its gravelly bellowing.
“Dream Deceiver” is based at least in part on the 1987 Robert de Niro thriller “Angel Heart”. The movie itself was a screen adaption of the 1978 William Hjortsberg hardboiled detective novel “Falling Angel”. “Angel Heart” was directed by Alan Parker, who earlier had directed the silver screen adaption of Pink Floyd’s legendary 1979 concept double album “The Wall”. The screen adaption of “Angel Heart” stirred its own share of controversy for its infamous sex scene between leading man Mickey Rourke and a nubile Lisa Bonet. The track ‘Angel Heart’ is a basic summation of what the novel, and film are about. The track ‘Dying Angels’ samples De Niro’s final speech of said movie.
Disregarding the partial concept “Dream Deceiver” is strong on its own considerable merits. Dead Head abandoned its chaotic approach, and near unhingedness in favor for tightly controlled aggression within more ambitious song construction. All while keeping its savage songwriting formula intact within the perimeter of a thicker, more textured and bass-heavier production. Only the visuals seems to have not undergone quite the same transformation. The photography is fantastic, but the cover artwork is underwhelming to say the least. The album was released in 1993 through Bad Taste Recordings and Intercord Record Services. While somewhat forgotten these days the album remains one of the strongest in its genre. Their sporadic output makes Dead Head one of Holland’s most enduring but still continually overlooked thrash metal entities.