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Review originally published at http://www.teethofthedivine.com by Erik Thomas
Finally getting a US/Worldwide release after coming out 2 years ago on Japan’s Toy Factory Records, the third album from super group Dimension Zero holds up not only after two years but as an album that would have sounded fresh and energetic whatever years it was released in.
For me, the 2002 debut, Silent Night Fever from this side project of In Flames’ Jesper Stromblad and former Marduk guitarist Jocke Gothburg single handedly re-energized the melodic death metal scene and although the follow up, 2003s This Is Hell, was a bit of a let down (for me at least anyway), He Who Shall Not Bleed perfectly melds intensity, aggression and melody into one perfect delivery. Basically, if you took the supine dual melodies of In Flames’ early work and gave them the back bone and thrashing relentlessness of Dew Scented-you would get Dimension Zero.
The formula is actually surprisingly simple in essence, but in execution, the delicate harmonies that intertwine the thrash salvos (often in the choruses), are so perfectly rendered in their tenacious intensity that they will blow by and you will have to go back to ensure that gorgeous melody you just heard wasn’t a figment of your imagination. Granted, the drumming of Hans Nilsson ( ex-Liers In wait) is pretty uneventful, buts it’s forceful and steady back bone to the melodies of Stromblad, the slicing rhythms (Soilwork guitarist) Daniel Antonsson and the blackened rasp of Gothburg.
After the blistering, pure thrash assault of the opening track and the short sharp “Unto Others”, and tantalizing melodic thrash of “A Paler Shade of White”, personal favorite “Hell Is Within” delivers one of the album truly stunning moments with a chorus that sounds like is was from The Jester Race-on steroids as does “I Can Hear the Dark” and other favorite tracks “Is” and “The Was”. “Going Deep” and “Red Dead Heat” are just forcefully menacing thrash romps while “Way to Shine” offers the albums only respite with a mid paced chunk and some questionable, more modern In Flames moments. The US release gets two bonus track in the way of (ready for this?) a blistering cover of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees-one of the more creative cover tracks if recent memory and “Rövarvisan” a furious number to end the album on a high note.
He Who Shall Not Bleed may not revitalize the genre as Silent Night Fever did back in 2002, but amid all the watered down Americanized, core based bands and In Flames/Dark Tranquillity’s hot /cold resurgence, Dimension Zero stand as a pure and vitriolic offering as you will hear.