Dimension Zero

He Who Shall Not Bleed (Reissue)

Written by: AP on 23/12/2008 15:52:21

In 1993, Jesper Strömblad quit his then-current death metal band Ceremonial Oath due to musical differences and began focusing on a more melodic side project he founded three years earlier, which, as the present tells, was a decision that would have a tremendous impact on metal, then an underground community. One might say that he, along with Mikael Stanne, Niklas Sundin, Thomas Lindberg and brothers Björler, shaped the future of metal by creating out of death metal a sound that now stands as one of the most influential genres in modern musical history: Gothenburg metal (or more commonly: melodic death metal).

To this day, Jesper Strömblad remains the eldest and sole remaining original member of In Flames. What most people don't know is that in 1995, Strömblad and then-guitarist Glenn Ljungström formed a side project, Dimension Zero, with members of Marduk and Diabolique. Three years later, internal problems dissolved the supergroup. However, in 2000, the band reformed, albeit with a slightly different line-up, and released three full-length albums in 2002, 2003 and 2007 respectively. The latest of these albums, "He Who Shall Not Bleed", was re-released earlier this year as if to appease fans of old school In Flames, enraged at the band's consistent leaps toward a more mainstream sound. Seriously, if there's one band to carry on the legacy of At The Gates and pre-Clayman era In Flames, it's Dimension Zero.

Stylistically the group pays most tribute to the former, particularly in the frantic rhythm section as delivered by drummer Hans Nilsson, but occasionally the riffs Strömblad lets loose have me wonder why "A Sense of Purpose" didn't sound like this. Then again, it was when Björn Gelotte stepped down from the drumkit and picked up a Les Paul in 1998 that In Flames' supposed descent began, which makes me wonder if Dimension Zero is Strömblad's catharsis; a refuge in which to play from his heart rather than from the band's wallet. How perfect is it, then, to bring in a vocalist that sounds like both Marcus Bischoff of Heaven Shall Burn and Anders Fridén in his younger years.

On more than one occasion the hyper-melodic, yet sufficiently brutal speed at which Dimension Zero comes at you will enforce your romanticized idea of how In Flames sounded, and should still sound like. It's fucking nostalgic, and it's hard to put a finger on what keeps it from being a tenner. I'm tempted to say that it could be that, like "Slaughter of the Soul", there isn't much variety to the songs, but that would be because all of them are so damn good. Well, almost, since "Going Deep" and "Red Dead Heat" sound somehwat anonymous next to what else is on offer here.

Ultimately it's probably because of the fact that while musically "He Who Shall Not Bleed" is flawless, it does not have an identity of its own and so ends up as one Gothenburg legend paying homage to other Gothenburg legends. But at the very least the name Strömblad should be a cue for just how excellent the songs are, and in any case if "The Jester Race", "Whoracle", "Colony" and "Slaughter of the Soul" rank among your favorite albums, "He Who Shall Not Bleed" is sure to plant some satisfaction in your soul and, if you're the sentimental sort, induce a teardrop or two. The Three Kings shall never be forgotten.

Download: A Paler Shade of White (A Darker Side of Black), I Can Hear the Dark, Hell is Within

For the fans of: At The Gates, In Flames, Unleashed

Listen: Myspace

Release date 13.01.2008 (Re-issue)

Toys Factory

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