Jan 272023

(In this new interview Comrade Aleks talks again with Justin DeTore, this time with a focus on Dream Unending, whose second album was released last fall by 20 Buck Spin.)

We spoke with Justin DeTore in November – back then the theme of our interview here was his death-doom band Innumerable Forms and its up-to-date album Philosophical Collapse. Check it, the album is worth attention. And the problem was that we had this proper interview focused mainly on Philosophical Collapse released in September 2022 and I was very, very impressed with another project where Justin shares his ideas with the talented guitarist Derrick Vella  – Dream Unending.

Their second album Song of Salvation saw the light of day in the very same November 2022, and I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that I needed to learn more about this piece. It’s a breathtaking death-doom-based psychedelic experience with an absolutely unique atmosphere and approach. If you believe that nothing new could be done in the death-doom realm then Song of Salvation proves you’re wrong.

I fought with temptation to do this interview for some time because I can’t interview Justin each time one of the bands where he plays releases a new album – Innumerable Forms, Solemn Lament, Sumerlands, or Vestal Claret are active in almost equal measure. But after all… why not?


Hi Justin! How are you doing? What’s new on Dream Unending’s side?

Doing great. Happy with the response Song Of Salvation has gotten. Me and Derrick are working on something currently for Dream Unending, but I can’t get into details right now, haha.


Okay then, we’ll be patient. So we spoke with you about your death-doom band Innumerable Forms and its up-to-date album Philosophical Collapse a few months ago, and I would prefer to avoid another interview in such a brief period, but I can’t get Song of Salvation out of my head. So, let’s start from the beginning. What drove you and Derrick Vella to start this project? And how did you meet each other?

Me and Derrick met online in 2018 as he had gotten in touch with me around the time the first Innumerable Forms album came out. We hit it off right away. I was very impressed with his guitar playing on Tomb Mold’s album Manor Of Infinite Forms, so I hit him up about doing a “doom” side project. I was both surprised and delighted to hear that he was into the idea and we sorta went from there. I figured with his guitar playing and our connection as humans we could make something pretty interesting.



You played doom metal in its many forms and Dream Unending is something new, not only for you but for many of us as well. The band’s genre is tagged as “melodic death-doom,” though an ethereal psychedelic vibe seems to be almost dominating in Song of Salvation. How did you work out this original formula?

Initially I wanted to do something akin to classic doom mixed with ’90s UK stuff ala the Peaceville Three. It was really Derrick who wanted to push beyond those boundaries, and I’m very thankful for it. From the start he was uncompromising in his song writing approach, still pulling from those initial influences but adding his own sound to make something that sounds unique to my ears.


If we cling to the “melodic death-doom” tag then Daylight Dies is the first name which comes to my mind, and “psychedelic death-doom” may be used for Tiamat’s Wildhoney or Esoteric – choose any album. But Song of Salvation has not so many common points with these bands. Did you have certain references to some bands when you started Dream Unending?

Well, Esoteric was certainly an influence, especially in the beginning. Evoken too. As I mentioned before, we used a lot of UK doom as a starting point. Another thing we decided early on was that we didn’t want to be derivative of any one band, either from the past or current scene. No disrespect of course, we just wanted to do our own thing.



And you did! Were you satisfied with the album Tide Turns Eternal (2021) in the end? Can you tell if you fulfilled all of your ideas in this material?

Yes, absolutely. There was a lot of uncertainty going into that album. I had never done a record so “ambitious” before, especially one that was recorded totally remote. Me and Derrick were never in the same room during the recording process, as the pandemic made that impossible. Luckily, Arthur Rizik, who produced the album, was very easy to work with and did a good job pacifying my anxieties, haha. I was very happy with the end result and it inspired us to immediately begin working on another album, which turned out to be Song Of Salvation.


You quoted the Lebanese-American writer and poet Khalil Gibran in one of the Tide Turns Eternal songs, but most of the lyrics are quite abstract. What the lyrical side of Dream Unending about? What kind of message do you want to transmit?

I’d like to think that we transmit a message of hopefulness. That’s the goal at least. We made a conscious decision early on that we didn’t want to dwell on the morose. A lot of other bands do that, and they are very good at it. That’s not to say that we don’t explore other feelings or emotions too. We do, but I’d like to think that even our songs about longing have a redemptive quality to them.


How did you get in touch with Benjamin A. Vierling who performed the striking artwork of Song of Salvation? Did you discuss with him the connection between the artwork and the album’s plot?

That was all Derrick. I’m not much of a visual guy so I let him handle all of that stuff, haha. Anyway, I believe he found his work online and was very impressed. After we initially got in touch, we sent him some lyrics and a few other points of inspiration to work from. I gotta say, I was pretty blown away when I saw the finished product. I feel like it totally matches the energy and spirit of the music.



By the way, is there a solid concept behind the Song of Salvation lyrics?

Not really. It’s certainly not a concept album. There are songs like “Secret Grief” that tackle loss while songs like “Ecstatic Reign” are more introspective and “spiritual” you could say. I didn’t have an agenda when I wrote the lyrics, but I wanted to make sure I was honest with myself. It seems like some people found some comfort in the words, and that makes me feel good.


It’s a subjective point of view but Song of Salvation sounds like you and Derrick found a more effective way to collaborate and develop ideas than you tried in Tide Turns Eternal. How would you compare the new material with those songs from the debut album?

I think by the time we got to Song we were more confidant in our approach to both writing and recording. I know I certainly was. We had developed a “sound” on the first one which made it easier to expand and take more risks on this one. I may have mentioned this earlier, but the process of recording the first album really felt like uncharted waters for me. I was glad to make it through. Not to say I didn’t enjoy making the record, but Song came together so much easier for me this time around.



One of the album’s most interesting points is its trumpet part performed by Leila Abdul-Rauf in the “Secret Grief” song. Did you want to try this instrument only in one song or was there a chance to make it an integral part of Dream Unending?

Derrick has a really good imagination and he was the one who thought the trumpet would be appropriate for that part. He was right, I think it sounds amazing. That also reminds me, I should reach out to Leila and thank her for doing such a great job. Anyway, I don’t think we would ever include something just for the sake of including it. For me, it must fit the psychology of the song. It must have a purpose.


What are your further plans for 2023 regarding Dream Unending or any other of your projects and bands?

Like I mentioned above, we are cooking up something for the end of the year. Forgive me for being vague, but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag until there’s an official announcement. We would love to play some shows eventually, we just need to find the right people.

Besides Dream Unending I have a few other things in the works. Solemn Lament will be recording a full-length this spring. I’m excited about that. We are also working on a new Innumerable Forms album and would love to record that by the end of the year. Forms may be releasing a promo tape in the meantime. Also, the plan is to do some Sumerlands and Innumerable Forms gigs this spring and summer. We’ll see what happens.




  1. Love this guy, it’s always a pleasure to read him.

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