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Jeromes Dream knits feedback into the tangled seams of 'The Gray In Between'

Iodine Recordings

For Those Who Like: screaming as catharsis, ugly pretty music, feedback

In the late '90s, Jeromes Dream came up with the likes of pg. 99, Orchid and Usurp Synapse, chaotic hardcore bands that could quickly turn unsettlingly quiet. For better or worse, the kids called it screamo — bassist Jeff Smith would literally scream atop short bursts of sonic destruction during live shows without a microphone, so perhaps the coinage wasn't without merit. Several split 7-inches, a debut album and a stylistic 180 toward shouty math-rock later, the band broke up in 2001.

Upon its reunion in 2018, Jeromes Dream picked up where it left off with 2019's LP, swaggering more toward rock than complex music equations — a welcome return, if a bit sleek in its presentation. The Gray In Between, however, recaptures and reinforces a shredded tension. Across 10 tracks in 25 minutes, you can feel the crushing effects of the world upon humanity, yet the album captures glimpses of beauty through Smith's vivid imagery.

"I once knew a guy who lit himself on fire / He took his pain and the pain of the world / and lit a match," Smith screams over grinding blast beats and blackgazey guitar via "On Holiday with Infinity." Loma Prieta's Sean Leary, at first an addition who soon became the band's sole guitarist, keenly understands how Smith and drummer Erik Ratensperger write; he riffs furiously, but wisely decorates their percussion-forward dynamic with scraped harmonics and Johnny Marr-like sweeps.

Feedback turns out to be an apt metaphor for pain: That squealing noise erupts when an amplified signal feeds back into the instrument that produced it, continuously looping until the signal is cut. So ... we suffer endlessly until we die! But hardcore frequently knits feedback into its tangled seams as a form of catharsis; The Gray In Between, while not exactly hopeful or despairing, empathetically injects split-second shrieks as punctuation marks between ruptured riffs and the ache of existence.

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