To become the source of legitimate legend is no easy feat, just as paying tribute simultaneously to one’s own accomplishments over time as well as to a fallen, beloved brother is no simple task for most mortals. Meanwhile, it’s not hard to find those in the underground who are all-too-eager to throw weight around that just isn’t there to support big-headed “rockstar” talk. However, as with the glorious tales retold over beers with friends, and saluted memories of any true warriors throughout history, through the underground rumble the unstoppable stories of true heroes to the cause. Yes, it could be said that the ones who really make a lasting mark on this world are those that stand by their convictions and brothers without faltering…and kick everyone’s ass in to the dirt with ease every single time they take the stage. I’m talking about down-for-life, tried and true individuals who have paid their fucking dues again and again in blood, sweat, and in the end…enough tears to prove just how die-hard, meaningful and sincere the endeavor was from the very start to the grand finale. Which brings us to the subject of this feature, perhaps the best hardcore band to ever grace the confines of Indianapolis, Indiana with their presence and genuine statement, The Dream Is Dead.
Formed in 2000 by vocalist (and founder of Happy Couples Never Last Records) Clark Giles and his long-time friend Jason McCash (now of The Gates of Slumber), The Dream Is Dead was ignited with the notion of injecting menace and politically-fueled rage back into the realm of hardcore. Throughout their whirlwind ten-year span, the band (with influences including Drop Dead, Entombed, and Danzig among others) evolved with minimal personnel changes while building on the seething aggression found both in their devastatingly emotive live performances (for example the band’s hell-raising 2004 tour with fellow hoosiers, Phoenix Bodies) and recordings alike, such as the undeniably classic 2005 Alex Newport-produced full-length, Hail the New Pawn. Soon after the release of that record, the band began gradually assembling material intended to be part of the follow-up, unleashing a split seven inch with The Gates of Slumber through Relapse Records to satiate the hunger of the masses in the process.
In the end, the world would never see the completion of the next record, and on June 21, 2011, the band lost one of their own. With the passing of guitarist Jared Southwick, The Dream Is Dead, along with the Indianapolis scene, and hardcore in general, were all left with a space that will never be filled. Immensely loved and revered by family, friends and fans the same, Jared was one of the most friendly, funny, talented, unbelievably passionate people one could ever wish to have the luck to know. A definite cornerstone to the heavier side of the Indy scene and entire hardcore community, as a part of many bands, and in his love of all things flat-out metal, Jared’s relentless spirit lives on in the countless lives he touched before leaving us all way too goddamn early. Now, his mammoth talent and adoration of music can be heard in any recording he was a part of and his impact will be felt forever.
With the independently-released Punk is a Mental Disorder, The Dream Is Dead have offered up one last excursion (limited to just forty-five copies) into their decade-long madness, while paying crushing tribute to Jared’s life. Clocking in at just under fifty-four minutes and comprised of nineteen tracks (the first six of which were meant to be a part of a new record), the collection is essentially a marriage of new and unreleased material that will go down in history as the band’s bittersweet last hurrah.
The opening number, “Vamachara”, lights the fuse with grinding, hardcore ferocity and immediately sheds light on where The Dream Is Dead were heading with a much-anticipated new record in mind. Jackhammer percussion, searing riffs and a raw-throated, bark-and-howl vocal approach pull the curtain back with lethal precision. “Kamikaze” most definitely bears an appropriate title, chaotic in its take-no-prisoners delivery. The last of the “new” tracks, “Ten Long Years”, chimes in with a bit of feedback before swiftly tearing your very core wide-open. What follows are the older T-Diddy ditties like “Bartertown”, the cyclonic “Introducing Your Enemy”, and a gloriously searing, punk-as-fuck take on Twisted Sister’s “Burn in Hell” and a couple of live rarities among others. Not a single second goes by that this disc doesn’t destroy!
It’s with this last release that The Dream Is Dead combined their last-ever live performance as a part of this year’s Dudefest extravaganza. If you were there, you witnessed the last incarnation of the band (also featuring current members of Coffinworm and Demiricous) lay waste to a packed house in hellish temperatures unfit for most. Inferno aside, they did it anyway, drawing ten long years to a close in mind-blowing fashion. And the band’s last release is no different. To witness this band in any sense was to indeed take part in a scouring of the psyche. What I’m getting at here is, whether you’re a longtime fan of the band or you know all these guys in real life, Punk is a Mental Disorder should hit you square between the eyes as a toast-inspiring tribute to not just the band’s decade-long warpath, but also to a fallen member whose contribution is now set in stone. Rest in peace, Jared, you are greatly missed and I raise my gauntlet. On toward Valhalla, fallen heroes ride…