DREAM BLOODY GORE: Dreams from Gruesome, SubRosa, and Dreaming Dead

Illustration by Ellie Shvaiko
Illustration by Ellie Shvaiko

What happens when you ask extreme metal luminaries to crack open their dream journals and share their most memorable nightmares, dreams, hallucinations, and astral projections? Dream Bloody Gore. This month, members of Gruesome/Exhumed, SubRosa, and Dreaming Dead/Cretin invite Decibel to crawl into their unconscious minds and prowl around their dreamscapes. Ahead, our contributors share cenobite hooks protecting corn crops, two-year old clairvoyants, and a “war is hell” fable of post-apocalyptic combat shock and redemption. In the immortal words of Evil Chuck Schuldiner, “See past the dark and use your energy/Learn from these images/Thoughts that we call dreams.” Scream on and dream on.

Sarah Pendleton (center) and SubRosa
Sarah Pendleton (center) and SubRosa

SARAH PENDLETON (Violinist/vocalist of SubRosa)

“Three companions and I are running through some sort of apocalyptic agricultural maze. It’s cold. We’ve stolen food – cabbages and corn – and we are being chased by unseen pursuers. We’re threading through rows of unnaturally uniform crops – completely symmetrical ranks of corn and files of cabbage – and the air smells like iron. There are searchlights roving over the landscape and a siren is screaming. I can hear boots hitting the ground behind us and I want to cover my face so I don’t breathe the foul air, but my arms are full of food, and I will do anything not to drop it.

“We are looking for the way out. It’s a tunnel. We came in through the tunnel, but we are disoriented, trying to stay together and evade our would-be captors. As we round a corner, two things happen simultaneously: With a loud piston click, three steel hooks shoot out of the end of the crop row, and we see the tunnel entrance. One of the hooks punctures my left hand and I drop. Two of my group continue to race toward the tunnel entrance. One of them turns back, kneels in front of me, and while staring into my eyes, wordlessly cuts two of my fingers off to free me, and carries me out through the tunnel.

“We emerge from the tunnel and the air is warm and soft, and the landscape is made up of rounded hills that are covered in fuzzy brown grass. My wounds seem superficial to me. It’s evening and yellowish light somehow emanates from beneath the hills. We know we are safe and cannot be followed. One of these rounded hills is our home or our base and we descend into it. It’s much larger inside than it looks from the outside. The two of my company who left me behind prepare the stolen food and the one who rescued me holds me down while cauterizing my wound. The searing pain of the fire is devastating, but I feel clean. That’s when I woke up.”

Daydream at SubRosa’s altar by blasting the killing rapture of For This We Fought the Battle of the Ages from Profound Lore Records over HERE. You can keep track of their tour dates and cabbage theft over on Facebook.

Elizabeth Schall (third from the left) and Dreaming Dead
Elizabeth Schall (third from the left) and Dreaming Dead

ELIZABETH SCHALL (Vocalist/guitarist of Dreaming Dead; guitarist of Cretin)

“First, I have to give you the backstory to put it all into perspective. This happened a long time ago, when I was around 12 years old. I lived with my family in Quilpue, Chile; a small hillside town next to the port of Valpariso, just a few hours from Santiago.

“It was a summer night like any other; nice and quiet, still dark out, everyone in the house was sleeping. My room was down the hall from my parents, and at some point that night I woke up out of bed after hearing an electrical buzz. There were no images, no lights, just what sounded like a person being electrocuted.

“So I jumped out of bed and rushed down the hall to my parents’ room. I could hear my sister – who was 2 years old – crying at the top of her lungs. I immediately thought she was hurt, so I made it to the doorway. I was surprised to see all the room lights on, to find my mother comforting my sister in her arms, and my father sitting up in bed with his feet resting on the floor. Very forcefully I asked my dad if everything was okay. He turned his head and with a confused look on his face told me everything is fine – which in turn made me very confused. After scanning the room a few more times, I turned around and stumbled half-asleep back to my room to return to bed.

“The next morning at breakfast, I immediately began questioning, almost interrogating my dad about the night before. And I told him about my sound dream, that I could hear electricity or the sound of someone being electrocuted and thought something happened to my sister. He immediately locked eyes with me and told me that he also had a dream, that lightning struck in our backyard, and the moment it hit the ground my sister started crying. Almost right after he woke up I was at their doorway.

“I don’t know what to make of it. Did we have a shared dream? Is that even possible? Did my sister receive some kind of super power? (Laughs) So many questions, and something I’ll never forget. It keeps the mysteries of our lives alive.”

Rage out to the sepulchral blast of Dreaming Dead’s Funeral Twilight from Hammerheart Records HERE. You can also learn more about their death metal midnightmares and other shared dreams on Facebook.

Matt Harvey (second from the left) and Gruesome
Matt Harvey (second from the left) and Gruesome

MATT HARVEY (Vocalist/guitarist of Gruesome and Exhumed)

“I have a lot of weird and lucid dreams, especially on tour. Since I usually pass out drunk in a moving vehicle, it’s difficult to spend as much time in “deep sleep” as I normally would, so I end up drifting in and out of REM sleep a lot. I actually started writing comic book scripts after being inspired by a dream I had in the van on tour with EXHUMED; it’s a great way to pass the time on long drives.

“I’ve always enjoyed dreaming and I dig the work that Carl Jung and, to a lesser extent, Sigmund Freud did on dream analysis. It’s been really useful to help understand just what the fuck is going on in my unconscious mind; the part that vanishes if you look at it directly, but flourishes if you can drift away from the thinking and reasoning aspect of your being and allow yourself to let go. I think my approach to creative art is a sort of marriage between these two complimentary tendencies. The core idea – or “spark” – comes from allowing the unconscious mind to do its work, whether via dreams, or doing activities that allow my mind to wander: Running, exercising, driving long distances in silence, or taking LSD, mushrooms, DMT, etc. The unconscious mind provides some half-remembered melody or idea from childhood, and then the conscious mind gives it a form and structure that creates something that can be understood by others – a song, a piece of writing, etc. I think most artists work like this to some extent, whether they know it or not. 

“Even when I’m doing something blatantly derivative like GRUESOME, all those DEATH riffs have seeped into my unconscious mind through years of listening and my playing along to records like Leprosy and Spiritual Healing when I first started trying to figure out how to play death metal. If I just allow my conscious memory to take a back-seat, I can create stuff that echoes my understanding of those riffs, and then use my conscious mind to put them together in a way that is as close, analytically speaking, to how Chuck [Schuldiner] would have arranged a song. 

“Anyway, When I was 19 to 21 I had a lot of very vivid dreams that had similar thematic elements, and I always enjoyed them. Even dreams that others found violent, unsettling, or morose, I always found interesting and insightful to my own understanding of myself and my feelings about the world around me. The dream itself had five distinct chapters or scenes, and as I told people about the dream throughout that day, I was able to recall it with more and more nuance. Here’s probably my all-time favorite:

“I: I was riding a school bus through the streets of Los Angeles with a bunch of other guys my age – 19 at the time – who were all whooping and carrying on. I knew that we were going to join the army, but it didn’t seem particularly serious or disciplined. I remember getting my head shaved and being sent into training, but no one really had a firm grasp on what it was we were supposed to be doing. It seemed like it had been a long time since there had been any kind of military and people were kind of guessing and making the process up as it went along. 

“II: After training, I had to collect valuables from the civilian population to help fund the war effort. I was driving an army truck around Beverly Hills where people were bringing out their valuables. We stopped at a house that hadn’t put anything out, and I volunteered to knock on the door to solicit the collection, since I had to piss and wanted to go in anyway. The person that answered the door was Rod Serling, the host of The Twilight Zone TV show, and he invited me in. When I followed him inside, there was a strange flash of dark purple light and I felt a sudden fear. Serling ordered his butler, an Asian man that kind of looked like “Odd-Job” from the Bond movie Goldfinger, to attack me. All at once, and seemingly out of nowhere, the butler and I ended up in a fist-fight at first, and then we were wrestling around on the floor while Serling sat back and enjoyed the show. I ended up gaining the upper-hand and bashed the bulter’s head in with a candlestick, which really freaked me out. Serling just stood there, seemingly unsurprised at what he had just seen. I felt sick after killing the butler and ran out of the house. Covered in blood, I jumped in the truck and yelled at them to drive out of there as fast as they could. 

“III: A while later, I was back in LA at a military celebration, which started with a parade and a medal ceremony. Since the incident at the Serling residence, I could remember fighting in a war and committing horrible atrocities: Slaughtering people, civilians, soldiers, women, children, etc. This was part of the background knowledge that I possessed while the ceremony was going on. As there were speeches being made and honors being awarded, I stood there, silently disgusted with the knowledge that what myself and all of these guys were doing was horrifying and ugly and pointless. I felt sick, like a mockery on display up there, and the worst part was that the people in the crowd loved it. They were all cheering and waving banners in exultation of the horrendous crimes we had perpetrated. The celebration ended at a huge ballroom, where everyone wore tuxedos and elegant gowns. I remember Ravel’s “Bolero” was playing, and I was dancing with my mother, who was incredibly proud of me. I felt a cavernous, bottomless shame and was trying to tell her how this celebration and this war were a grotesque sham, but I couldn’t bear to shatter the illusion for her. As the music reached a crescendo, bubbles descended from the ceiling, and when they popped, candy fell out. Everyone around me was delighted and amazed at the spectacle. As their attention was distracted, I ran out of the ball, unnoticed, and escaped into the night. 

“IV: Sometime later, maybe weeks, maybe months, I was keeping martial law on the streets of Los Angeles, enforcing curfew after dark. I had a partner, a big African-American guy that looked like he could have been the brother of a co-worker of mine. I let him leave early to go see a girl in the neighborhood and was patrolling alone in the night. Nothing was really happening, so I walked into a nearby 7-11. There was a young couple, a guy and a girl, who were dressed like some sort of glamorous post-apocalyptic cyber punks– if that makes any sense – and they were robbing the store. I just sort of stood there watching. But then the shop owner started screaming and complaining about how the world was out of control and I was supposed to do something about it. So I chased the kids around the back of the 7-11 and shot the boy in the head. As I did this, I remember feeling completely detached from the action. I was thinking about 7-11 and how their operating hours had returned to actually being from 7 to 11 due to the military curfew. The killing was cold, emotionless, and mechanical. The shop owner came out and was shocked; he thought I was just going to arrest them or give them a stern talking-to. He begged me to stop, and I told him I was glad he was there because he needed to see what I was doing. Then I took my army knife and eviscerated the girl. I remember looking into her eyes this time though, and feeling her anguish and her pain and desperation as I stabbed her to death for stealing some petty cash from a 7-11. I left her bleeding out on the street, threw my weapons and bullet-proof vest in the garbage, and walked off. 

“V. The fifth and final vignette happened afterward. I had gone AWOL and was leaving a run-down flop-house type motel. After the 7-11 incident, I had kind of snapped out of the violence I had been trained and hardened to accept, and I felt a strange sense of regret. I had renounced violence completely and was ready to find another way to live my life. I was determined to return home to the Bay area and had a bus ticket out of LA. I got on the bus, but when we approached the edge of the city, the freeway had been blown up, and everything to the north had been devastated by warfare. It looked like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, basically. So the bus got off at the last usable exit, where I got off the bus. I remember thinking, “Well, I guess I live here now, I should get a job.”  The first place I saw was a fast-food place called Burger Barn. They had a sign that said “Burger Barn is a proud supporter of the ‘World’s Child'” with a picture of a deformed, quadriplegic infant. I knew in the dream that this baby had been found in a dumpster by the president, who adopted the child and made it the mascot for the peace effort that helped end the war I had just fought in. I went into the restaurant, was told that I could start sweeping the floor and felt content. Then I woke up.”

Prepare to be stabbed to death by Gruesome’s Fragments of Psyche from Relapse Records on March 31st. Stream the title track HERE. Stay up to date with Gruesome‘s Schuldiner worship and Exhumed‘s gore fucking metal on Facebook.