Dreams in the Witch House: A Lovecraftian Rock Opera (2013)
Review by Jude Felton
There are moments in your life which help define you, or should I say help craft what you will develop a passion for later in life. For my good self, one such moment for the first horror book I read, or at least attempted to read for the first time. It was H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, and for my young eyes and brain (I can’t have been much older than 10) it was tough going. I was a stubborn kid though and persevered with it over the year. The cover alone was enough to keep pulling me back in.
Fast forward a decade or two, or three, and I find myself faced with a rock opera based on the works of Lovecraft, with the epic Dreams in the Witch House. It is truly a sumptuous release, with it being available on CD, Digital or the lavish violet double LP version, which really is a thing of beauty. Aesthetics is one entirely different matter though, and it is what is contained within that matters. Dreams in the Witch House does not disappoint in any department.
Performed by a collective, as opposed to band, of musicians, songwriters and singers, they have created a wonderful and grandiose. In fact there 17 singers and 14 musicians involved in the album’s creation and instead of sounding crowded there’s a beautiful flow as the story of the Witch House unfolds.
Musically, the likes of Bruce Kullick (KISS), Douglas Blair (WASP) and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Jody Ashworth all contribute, as the album blends metal and rock in a symphonic and operatic manner. It is full of all the pomp that you might expect from a rock opera, but never loses sight of the story that it is telling. You really want to crank this bad boy in a darkened room and let the entire thing wash over you; I can assure you that you will be swept into this dark and mysterious tale.
It’s certainly quite obvious, upon listening to Dreams in the Witch House, that there is an overriding love and passion for the subject matter. The music and lyrics have been written with the express purpose of fitting the subject matter, rather than fitting a story to music. I’ve listened to the album several times, on different formats with different speakers, and each time I take more of the story in. Even those that aren’t knowledgeable on the subject should find themselves drawn in to it.
In terms of content, Dreams in the Witch House is the perfect marriage of music and horror, which instead of focusing on guts and gore, as some bands do, focuses firmly on the story, and what a majestic story it is.
Overall, Dreams in the Witch House comes highly recommended. Theatrical, magnificent and thoroughly engaging, this is an album that is quite simply stunning.
1. The Confession/Arkham Overture
2. Dreams in the Witch House
3. Higher Fire/Breaking Me Down
4. Bridge to the Stars
5. The Nightmare
6. No Turning Back
7. Signum Crucis
8. Nothing I Can Do
9. Legends and Lore
10. The Sleepwalker
11. Blessed are the Faithful
12. Crawling Chaos
14. The Sacrifice/No Turning Back
15. Between Reality and Dreaming
16. Madness is my Destiny
Dreams in the Witch House is available on CD and Double Vinyl from CD Baby. You can also check out the Official Site.