This will sound cheesier than fondue, but there are only a few bands that were truly “life-changing” for me to hear. Without doubt, Jeromes Dream is on that short list. While I liked heavy music, even a little noisy music, dissonance was a concept I could not really wrap my head around. So when tunes like “This is for Baby Fat” or “Exit 29 Collapsed as I Drove By” assaulted my ears for the first time, I was overwhelmed by how unabashedly abrasive they were, and totally confused by how much I loved it.
Hearing Jeromes Dream that first time completely and irrevocably altered my musical tastes. I’ve since come to absolutely crave dissonance and chaos from my music, an addiction that is wholly JD’s fault. So when I heard not only that they were reuniting after nearly two decades, but also putting out a brand-new album, I practically pissed myself in excitement.
One of the things that initially enamored me of Jeromes Dream was how terribly heavy they could get, and their latest, untitled effort LP is no exception. The drums hammer out focused patterns and meditative rhythms, punctuated by the occasional vicious blastbeat. The guitar whips around grindy distorted chords and panicky highs, riffs dipping up and down the neck like some fucked up rollercoaster. The bass rings out booming chords alongside the guitar, the string section playing in unison to create mountainous lows and startling highs. Static-drenched vocals decorate the sonic backdrop like graffiti tags on a wall, enraged acts of rebellion against a large and loud surface of sound.
While chaos has always been an integral part of JD’s sound, this time around there is a new focus to their composition: groove. Amid the turbulent sea of dynamic changes, time signature shifts, and syncopated hits, Jeromes Dream builds powerful and expansive rhythmic progressions. The instruments operate entirely as one unit, stressing each downbeat with force and precision. Sections like the pounding coda of “Drone Before Parlor Violence” or the meditative bridge of “Reverse in a Valley Combine” spin energetic grooves that are so contagious, they feel almost danceable. In addition, the band drops small, spacey interludes between their heavy-as-hell songs, letting the album breathe before dipping back into vehemence and velocity.
With its heavy rhythmic focus and miles of groove, LP is perhaps Jeromes Dream at their most accessible musically. But when it comes to the writing, JD is as obfuscate as ever. The lyrics to their songs have always been enigmatic to say the least, relating hyper-personal sentiments or creating vague impressionistic scenes, and this record is no exception. Phrases like “Fog of breath from a sick dog” or “Feed old bone mash to an ardent young herd” function as powerful images, but keep their purpose obscured. And the vocal delivery of those lines—off-kilter rhythms drenched in distortion—serves to compound the confusion further.
But perhaps that’s the point of the vocals in the music of Jeromes Dream, to be indefinable. While there is certainly meaning buried within the writing, the effect-heavy delivery of those lines makes the vocals feel more like an instrument than a focal point. They sit low in the mix, creating a participation touchstone for fans to latch onto, while letting the complex guitar work and frenzied drumming dominate the spotlight. The lyrics too reflect this auxiliary approach: the tongue-twisting line “Drink warm lye / Lie in bed warm / Lie to lie” is more for reading than it is for listening. Jeromes Dream employs their vocals like other bands employ a synth or string section in the studio, using them to apply emotion and energy to certain sections while letting their thrashing hardcore riffs do the bulk of the talking.
For what has to be the most anticipated screamo release of the last decade, LP does not disappoint in the slightest. Jeromes Dream heralds their return with bombastic and beautiful riffs and a whole lot of loud. LP easily calls to mind memories of their previous catalog, but without feeling derivative of it—this new record feels like the next logical step after Presents, but also sounds like the debut of a whole new band. LP is evidence that Jeromes Dream have lost not an iota of their energy or honesty over the past two decades. Wherever the future takes them, you can be damn sure I will be pressed against the stage barriers, screaming my support like a madman.
My Top Track: “Antietam for Breakfast”
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LP is streaming on both Spotify and Bandcamp. Jeromes Dream are currently on their first tour in 18 years supporting it, and if you have the opportunity to see them, DO NOT BLOW IT. For more information including upcoming dates, merch and news, check out their website.