Review Summary: A consistent, heavy and melodic effort that shows the potential of the Swedish quartet, but sadly is let down by a lack of variation and originality.
Jocke Gothburg, vocals (ex Marduk)
Jesper Stromblad, guitar (In Flames)
Daniel Antonsson (ex Soilwork, Dark Tranqullity)
Hans Nilsson (Diabolique)
This is Hell
, the second, long awaited release from Gothenburg metal supergroup Dimension Zero certainly had a reputation to live up to upon its 2003 release. The potential, musicianship and quality the band had to offer was not doubted: three members either were members, or were ex members of some of metal’s most famed and influential bands. To further this Jesper Stromblad, well known for his part in the development of the ‘Gothenburg sound’ as well as his role in creating four of the greatest melodeath records in history was the guitarist and main songwriter. This Is Hell was expected to be an exceptional follow up to ‘Silent Night Fever,’
the noteworthy debut released a year previously. So, did the album live up to expectations?
Clocking in at just 36 minutes, the average listener would expect an album stuffed full of thrashy riffs, lighting fast leads and brutal drumming, and for the most part the average listener wouldn’t be disappointed with their first spin. The opener Dimension Zero
effectively sets the tone for the album and lives up to those preliminary expectations: Jesper’s guitarwork is brutal: chugging and unrelenting. The leads are lightning fast and influenced, as you would expect, by the sound of the Gothenburg scene. Lastly, Nilsson’s drumming is entirely complementary to the guitarwork, and is dominated by blast beats and savage fills. The song continues in this fashion for the next three minutes. So, a success? Not necessarily.
The opening track is as good a representation of the album as the album itself, and while consistency is always a virtue for the average metal band, the level of consistency exhibited on This Is Hell is no longer a virtue but a curse. The guitar leads lack the great invention, harmonisation and sense of melody that made Gothenburg legends In Flames and At The Gates so great, and generally follow a similar blueprint in every song The lack of harmonised leads and solos is also a downer: songs such as Into And Out Of Subsistence
and Blood On The Streets
are far better than those missing them, as they add variation and finesse to the mix. As a result, the guitars become generic after a few songs, climaxing in the filler The Final Destination
. However, this is not always a negative, as the riffs are still typically better than those of the average metal band.
Sadly, the drumming suffers, but to a greater extent. Nilsson’s extensive use of repetitive blast beats which are only occasionally varied results in a completely uninspired listening experience by the end of the second song Immaculate
, which ironically features some of the albums best guitar work in its final minute. The drumming is so unnecessarily repetitive that, in places, it actually detracts from the work of the other members, which becomes more apparent as the album progresses.
The vocals on the album are far more listenable than the drumming, and are easily on a par with the guitar work in terms of quality. Gothburg is easily an above average vocalist, but he is by no means the best. His high pitched shriek cuts through the low rumble of the guitars, and is varied to some extent by changes of pitch and songs such as Di I Minores
, the occasional use of the spoken word. However, while being an improvement on the drumming, they are still fairly repetitive, perpetuating the faults of the album. Lastly, the bass is typically inaudible throughout.
Does the album live up to the combined reputation and back catalogue of the individual members? In a word, no, due to the severe amount of repetition that sadly stifles the hints of quality that the band members evidently posess. However, the brutality and innate sense of melody of the songs mean this is an album that can be dipped in and out of when needed, a great redeeming quality. There is also a hint that the band, being a side project, has not had the priority or appropriate time together to fully exploit their potential, evidently shown in the quality of the 2007 follow up, ‘He Who Shall Not Bleed.'
Into And Out Of Subsistence
Blood On The Streets