Released: 2009, Candlelight
Many metal fans are probably already familiar with Swedish super group Dimension Zero, and its members from In Flames, Soilwork, and Marduk. Guitarist Jesper Stromblad leads the band on HE WHO SHALL NOT BLEED, a worthy follow-up to 2003’s THIS IS HELL. I was not expecting much of a departure from the previous album and HE WHO SHALL NOT BLEED delivers more of the same aggressive, technical, and melodic death/thrash metal that the world has come to expect from the land of snow and ice. Generally this is not a bad thing, but is that predictability I hear creeping into this album? I think it just might be.
People would expect the opener to be a blazing riff fest with drums to match and Dimension Zero does not disappoint on the title track. The songs hit hard and they hit fast, most of them are in and out in less than three minutes. With such compact intensity, it is no surprise that the total run time is only around 35 minutes, and a fatiguing 35 minutes it is. A brief reprieve from the frenetic pace comes with the slightly slower tempo of “I Can Hear The Dark” and its brief spoken intro and lightning quick melodic riffs. The guitar work from Jesper and Daniel Antonsson are the expected highlights, with the riffs and complexity matching the usual standards of this style of music.
Annihilator’s Jeff Waters also provides some guest solos and the drums match the warp speed of the riffs. The tempos, with the exception of “I Can Hear The Dark” , the excellent “Deny”, and the unexpected cover of the Bee Gee’s “Stayin Alive” have very little variety. Likewise, Jocke Gothberg’s vocals have absolutely no variety, basically raw and throaty black metal screams sung tunelessly into the maelstrom of riffs. Think of Arch Enemy and you get the idea.
Basically, this album delivers what most fans of this music can appreciate; a return to the more traditional Gothenburg style of metal. There is nothing surprising or actually bad from this album, just an expected consistent quality that quickly becomes predictable. Production is absolutely blistering with the guitars. The vocals are mixed lower and the bass is almost lost in the chaos but everything is mostly balanced and appropriate.
However, I would say the band played it safe and avoided any deep levels of experimentation on this album, and so it starts to sound monotonous. Fans of this type of extreme metal know who they are, and this album is definitely for them. Emphatically, this is not going to garner fans from metal’s wider circles, which is why they call this extreme metal. It is not for everybody, and you probably have a good idea of whether or not you are going to embrace HE WHO SHALL NOT BLEED or toss it.