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bl3h - 52%

RapeTheDead, December 29th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Hammerheart Records

I'm not really sure what happened to black metal artists in the early 2000s, but it seems like a lot of them were really concerned with pushing the genre into THE FUTURE or whatever. Ulver, Arcturus, Dodheimsgard, Aborym, even the later Emperor albums sort of hinted at this new direction. It's not as though the end results really sounded much like black metal, as anyone who has ever heard The Sham Mirrors can tell you. The tendrils of metal influence lurk, but only in the background. I guess there's only so many tremolo riffs and blastbeats one can play before wanting to expand their artistic palate in other ways.

Dimension F3H can almost immediately be seen as a part of this continuum, and Reaping the World Winds is probably one of the weaker albums to emerge out of this movement. Hideous album cover aside, this doesn't really strike me as a massive step sideways from the parent project of Mr. Morfeus, Limbonic Art. Say what you will about modern Arcturus or Ulver albums, they're distinctly different from earlier work by those bands. Reaping the World Winds has a different feel on the surface than Limbonic Art just by virtue of not relying on black metal theatrics, but the vibe you get from both bands tends not to differ much when all is said and done. The keyboards/synths might be emphasized a little bit more with Dimension F3H, but they still sound a bit tacky and contrived in their cultivation of atmosphere in almost the exact same way Limbonic Art did. While the synths are intended to be the focal point, they don't completely dominate the atmosphere--there's at least a few moments where both bands throw some metal riffs in to reminds you that this is supposed to be heavy and intense or whatever. Dimension F3H just uses vague thrash/power metal riffs instead of black metal ones. Some elements have been substituted for others, but the balance between them tends to be similar in both projects. As such, Reaping the World Winds occupies the same place in its respective scene that Limbonic Art did. Both are third or fourth-tier bands that are competent and workable, but nothing particularly spectacular. This mostly stems from the oversaturation of synths and all the bells and whistles that accompany them, which are always a big turnoff in metal for me. Both bands love constantly hopping between strange and vaguely interesting ideas, but they do so at the expense of real substance or grounded songwriting.

Maybe I'm being a little bit harsh, but even though I own In Abhorrence Dementia I could never fully get into Limbonic Art, and all of the elements that held me back just rear their ugly head all over again when I listen to Reaping the World Winds. I get that they're trying something different, but many of the same faults are present. When Arcturus transitioned into a less black metal-influenced style, they were able to pull it off because they had Garm and ICS Vortex singing at the helm, and both of those guys have great voices. Nesmoth is definitely not at the same level these guys are with his clean singing, which he pretty much does for the entirety of the record. It's not that he's got a particularly awful natural timbre (though I doubt it's gonna blow you away or anything), it's more that his vocal melodies often seem ill-fitting and grating in the context of the music that surrounds them. Because the guitars provide the root chords and the synths dance around them with the melodies, it is unclear what the vocals are supposed to bring to the mix at times, as they don't really gel with either of the other two melodic components in the band's sound. Every now and then they have their moments, but they're often quite heavily saturated in harmony which only contributes to the disjointed feel Reaping the World Winds has. Everything just sounds like it's trying to be over-the-top and mindblowing in this really obtuse, artistic way, and as a result this album suffers a bit from "special snowflake syndrome": because everything is trying to stand out, nothing stands out.

I suppose this is kind of a novel idea for like ten minutes, maybe even a little longer if you have an affinity for electronic music or synth-heavy metal. Really, though, the same general concept that Dimension M3H is executing here has been done by better bands at least a few times over now. No matter what he does, Mr. Morfeus will always be a third stringer trying to keep up with the big boys. The only tracks I found memorable in this mess were the two instrumentals. "Waterworld" and "Reborn" just focus on the electronic side of things, and both tracks are much better off for that, although it should be said that I have next to no knowledge of that sort of music beyond a couple Autechre albums I enjoy from time to time. I would like to see Dimension F3H do a full album of electronic music, because playing metal certainly isn't doing them any favors. Just buy The Sham Mirrors instead and skip this.