Released: 2001, Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
I’m going to begin this review by stating that I am pretty much totally unfamiliar with past works of Dismal Euphony, which apparently include two previous albums on Nuclear Blast. In the eyes of some readers, therefore, I may not be qualified to review this album. If that’s the case, this review will be no help to you. However, jumping into this band for the first time with PYTHON ZERO, I have to say I’m quite encouraged to go out and find their other releases and see if they’re as good as this one. This album is quite progressive and interesting as hell, and I’m curious to see what previous DE offerings might have in store.
I began this review with a caveat because I hear a lot on PYTHON ZERO that sounds like a band that’s been around for a while trying to experiment around with different styles. Coming out of the Norwegian black metal scene in the mid-1990s, somehow I doubt they were this progressive when they got their start in metal. Elements here remind me a lot of the last few In Flames albums, but there’s less of a straight death metal influence lurking in the background. The first track, “Critical Mass,” is pretty heavy and hard-hitting, but has just a hint of the outer-spacey electronica type of thing that popped up on In Flames’ CLAYMAN once in a while. The guitars shred pretty formidably on the second track, “Python Zero,” although not as much as I’d like. Things really get going at about track three here. One of Dismal Euphony’s assets is eerie dual vocals. The traditional death metal shout of Ole Helgesen is augmented by the eerie wails of female vocalist Anja Natasha, and together the two of them divvy up the vocal duties in a way that lends an interesting broadness to the music. But don’t worry – there’s plenty of metal here too. A snappy double-bass on “Zentinel,” churning guitar dirges on “Magma” (behind female vox that sound like the torment of the damned), and traditional NWOSDM-style punishment that rears its head pretty regularly remind the listener that, despite all the progressive playing around, Dismal Euphony is still a METAL band. Some bands that attempt to go in progressive directions tend to forget this all too often, and the foot that remains firmly rooted in metal territory prevents PYTHON ZERO from becoming a debacle like Mayhem’s GRAND DECLARATION OF WAR, for instance.
That having been said, I have to say that the final track, “Flyineye,” which is probably the least traditional metal song on the album, is in a class by itself. With flat, fuzzy, almost surf-style guitars and a galloping rhythm, it sounds like the kind of stuff that might end up on the “Pulp Fiction” soundtrack, but it’s still tormented, tortured and disturbed. This is tricky stuff – bands that go out on a limb like this more often than not have their cajones handed to them on a plate, but Dismal Euphony pulls it off. Exactly how this song, radically different from the rest of the album, manages to be successful I’m not sure, but for whatever reason, it rocks! You may be pleasantly surprised.
From the standpoint of a total newcomer to Dismal Euphony, PYTHON ZERO is excellent. I have no idea whether people with more familiarity with the band will share that judgment (and they may well not), but I have no choice but to give it a thumbs up.