• Sammy O'Hagar

he-who-shall-not-bleedLet’s say you need a new car, and you have it narrowed down to two: A BMW and a Toyota Carolla. The Carolla is a safe, dependable car that you’ll probably own until your kids are in high school, even if you don’t have kids yet. The BMW, on the other hand, is also, in theory, a well built, reliable car with the added bonus of being fucking awesome. The difference, of course, is that your finances don’t allot for a new BMW, despite its awesomeness, and a new Carolla – with its reliability and not entirely emasculating presence – is certainly one of the better new car choices you could make considering your budget. Metal, however, isn’t priced on quality, and such choices don’t have to be made in that fashion. Dimension Zero are definitely a Toyota Carolla: they’re perfectly adequate, they play proficiently, their band members are of varying pedigrees in Swedish metal, and there’s absolutely nothing exceptional about their music. And though Dimension Zero aren’t a low quality melodeath band per se, there sure as hell isn’t anything really good about the band’s latest, He Who Shall Not Bleed.

In their defense, He Who Shall Not Bleed would be a little less dull had the teat of Swedish death metal not been sucked dry to the point of dust. But although they’ve been around longer than the Black Dahlia Murder and have members of In Flames and Marduk in their ranks, Dimension Zero’s shtick could not feel more stock. The melodic spidery riffs, insistent thrash beat, and sub-Lindberg vocals feel entirely too familiar, as if Dimension Zero either a) scrambled to put an album together after hearing that At the Gates and Carcass were making serious-ass reunion money in 2008 or b) fell asleep for a few years early in the decade and missed the deluge of minor key riffing from floppy-haired emo reject stick figures with nautical star sleeves. The best of the Swedish death crews broke up or drastically altered their style; it’s confounding to believe that Dimension Zero think they can get away with releasing a third rate melodic death metal record after so, so many bands have based their entire careers regurgitating said metal (indeed, many of those bands formed and burned out within the time span of DZ). You could argue that because they’re Swedish death OG’s they’re able to get away with playing old school melodeath completely untweaked; I’d agree if the music were better.

And maybe I’m judging He Who Shall Not Bleed a little too harshly: while not much is good, not much is downright deplorable, either. In fact, the only unarguably bad parts are when the band veers into acoustic dalliances or clean singing (holy shit, metal bands, how many times do I have to type that sentence?). Even despite the well-trodden mess of harmonizing in thirds and semi-epic minor keys riffs, a few still manage to stick out. But perhaps it’s that epic quality combined with melodic death metal’s massive oversaturation that make the call for an above-and-beyond approach necessary. America’s dirty, atonal metal can more easily get away with rehashing Suffocation grooves or Morbid Angel riffs (though maybe not so much after Suicide Silence and Whitechapel are done with it); Sweden’s counterpart needs to work harder. Dimension Zero don’t work hard enough. Reliable? Sure. Exceptional? Not even close.

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(two out of five horns)


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