Atmospheric black metal is a bit of a mixed bag in my opinion. While this can be said of most genres, I find there to be a particularly large number of bands that seem to think they can just howl over 3 tremolo notes and a few chords ad nauseum and call it “atmospheric.” If you allow me to get on my high horse for just a moment, I feel the true masters of this style use those same, simplistic components; but through use of layering create a composition that builds to ever more terrifying heights.
It is in this that The Dreaming I unquestionably succeeds. There is a palpable atmosphere that surrounds the listener and invokes visions of dark places. Specifically, these soundscapes are inspired by the nightmares of frontman, Naas Alcameth (Nightbringer). Despite having only a few tracks, there are some great ups and downs and real progressions within their meaty runtimes.
While I would have liked to see just a little more finesse in the guitar-work, there were some truly chilling uses of simplistic hooks as with the high-pitched ringing tones that recur throughout personal favorite, "Consummation." Rather than focusing on rapidly-strummed chord progressions, Akhlys takes a few picked notes and turns them into the foundation for some real earworm melodies. The synth work is also very layered and quite beautiful.
Repeat listens only led this to grow on me exponentially. My misanthropic, miserly side wanted to write this off as more background music, but in the end I could not peel arrangements from my mind. It is available on bandcamp with a digital pricetag of 6.66 Euro (so kvlt), but I personally just had to have the digipack for this gorgeous cover art. Sweet dreams.