He Who Shall Not Bleed
posted on 2/2009 By:
As far as I’m concerned, melodic death metal—especially the Gothenburg variety—is kind of like getting really, really drunk. When you’re a kid it seems like an awesome idea and you partake all the time. As you age you notice drawbacks to the practice, like awful decision-making and the gradual transformation of your liver into a useless rock, and drinking for flavor becomes relatively more appealing. Eventually you decide that imbibing until you’re obscenely sloshed is generally a bad idea, and afterwards you might get crapulous only once in a blue moon. So has been my experience with hack’n’slash melodeath. As much as At the Gates and Dark Tranquillity helped me learn the ropes during my teenage years, the thrashtastic antics of the Gothenburg school and its many disciples have gotten more than a little old. Still, though, occasionally an album in that tradition will muster up the gusto to bash through my wall of cynicism and remind me of what drew me to melodeath in the first place. Dimension Zero have done just that with He Who Shall Not Bleed—these vets have delivered a rager that revs me up just like Terminal Spirit Disease did back in my inebriated adolescence.
As many of you already know, Dimension Zero are something of a super group. Featuring In Flames guitarist Jasper Strömblad and former In Flames/Marduk vocalist Jocke Göthburg along with Dark Tranquillity/former Soilwork bassist Daniel Antonsson on guitars, these boys are about as steeped in melodeath tradition as they come…and boy, does it show. He Who Shall Not Bleed takes an almost dogmatic approach to thrashy, biting melodeath. You’ll find no keyboards, clean singing, acoustic interlude tracks, or other such skullduggery here—this disc is pure, seamless aggression from start to finish. Hell, Dimension Zero relegate even metal mainstays like the guitar solo to supporting roles. These guys focus exclusively on bringing the riffs and bringing them hard. Though Stromblad and Antonsson sling plenty of catchy harmonies on tracks like “I Can Hear the Dark” and “Hell Is Within,” they never get overly noodly or wander too close to Iron Maiden territory. He Who Shall Not Bleed succeeds largely because of its irrepressible energy and urgency, the likes of which I haven’t heard from a like-minded band since the demise of The Crown. Sure, the constant ‘tooka-tooka’ beats and quicksilver guitar duets get pretty redundant by the time Dimension Zero have broken out the jokey cover of “I Will Survive,” but it’s hard to deny the sheer aggression of tracks like the sub-two-minute “Red Dead Heat” or “Going Deep.” Göthburg’s relentless rasp and a spot-on Arnold Lindberg production round out the package.
I’m frankly kind of stunned that someone who’s involved in the hideous wreckage of In Flames can still put out something that sounds so youthful and exuberant. Sure, this choppa-choppa style has slipped into the realm of self-parody over the last five years of total oversaturation, but god damn if Dimension Zero doesn’t manage to sell it on vigor alone. This kind of album helps keep metal viable for me; it’s kind of dumb, but it somehow manages to be totally fun anyway. If you want someone to reinvent the wheel you’d best look elsewhere, but if you’re of a mind to have some salty Swedish dogs beat you unconscious with that wheel, He Who Shall Not Bleed gets the job done.
Register to post comments.