"In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Unanimated. The album was released through No Fashion Records in February 1993. "In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead" has a pretty interesting release history as there exist three versions with three different cover artworks. Unanimated are usually counted among the elite Swedish blackened/melodic death metal acts from the early- to mid nineties along with artists like Dissection, early Marduk, and Necrophobic. They didn´t receive much recognition (only from a cult audience) or achieved commercial success while they were initially active though and they disbanded after releasing their second full-length studio album "Ancient God of Evil (1995)". They´ve since reformed and released their third full-length studio album "In the Light of Darkness (2009)".
Stylistically the music on "In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead" reminds me a lot of early Necrophobic. Occult lyrical themes, a singer that delivers both raspy black metal styled vocals and death metal growling in a very convincing and commanding fashion, melodic guitar leads and a generally dark and epic atmosphere. Keyboards are used occasionally, but always as an atmosphere enhancer, seldom as a lead instrument. The riffing style varies from brutal death metal riffs, tremolo picked blackened riffing and occasionally rythmic thrashy riffing. The band are well playing and the performances on this album are generally pretty strong.
Some tracks stand out a bit more than others though and if I have to mention a minor issue with "In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead", it´s the inconsistency of quality of the material. The best tracks like "Blackness of the Fallen Star", "Whispering Shadows", and "Through the Gates" are absolutely brilliant blackened death metal tracks, but there are a couple of more unremarkable tracks on the album too. Especially the ones which employ more thrash tinged riffing, stand out as the least interesting tracks on the album. I think it has a lot to do with the band using demo material for the album, and maybe not being critical enough of that material. To their defence it should be mentioned though that quite a few of their demo tracks (which are among the best tracks on the album) are of a very high quality.
The sound production is raw and powerful and has the right darkness to it, to suit the music. Overall it´s not the most well produced album in the genre, but still an enjoyable listen and of course a mandatory listen for fans of early- to mid 90s blackened melodic death metal. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.