Does The Pain Excite You?
12/16/2009 - Review by: Etiam
After the demise of Limbonic Art, one of Norwegian black metal's alternate cult (not kvlt) favorites, it seemed that Dimension F3H might be a reasonable successor. Between Morfeus and Daemon, Limbonic Art's two members, a number of splinter projects were candidates for succession, but so far none has struck it big. Daemon's other projects include Nocternity (a promising but dissimilar black metal project based in Greece) and Sarcoma Inc. (an obscure effort in dirty thrashing black metal that has released three LPs to essentially zero acclaim). Only Dimension F3H managed to break out, relatively speaking, onto the larger stage by signing to the now-defunct Hammerheart Records.
The band's 2003 debut LP, 'Reaping the World Winds', was a quirky excursion into electro-metal with some Gothic and black metal touches that, despite looking like a complete mess on paper, actually managed to impress fans and some critics alike. As a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades, Morfeus is the the band's core force and was responsible for most of the album's instrumentation. Battery was handled by Stian Kristoffersen of Pagan's Mind (interestingly, bassist Steinar Krokmo also is mentioned as a passing affiliate of the project). The most memorable element of 'Reaping...', however, was the vocal presence of Nesmoth. Ranging from aggrieved rasps to weird falsetto backing to more traditional grunts, his layered expression was dynamic, fairly original, and polarizing.
Three years later, Dimension F3H returned in a new incarnation, on a new label, and with a new album entitled 'Does The Pain Excite You?'. The album artwork is equal to the low-budget and cheesy excess of 'Reaping', but 'Does...' undoubtedly is the worse album title of the two--perhaps one of the worst of the decade, to be frank. Since 'Reaping...', Hammerheart has folded and Nesmoth has left the band, leaving Morfeus to take over on vocals. Also, Dimension F3H has traded in its lavish arrangements for quasi-death metal riffing and drums. To be sure, the band's core identity is still undeniably its electronic "future metal" base, but the nearly Belphegor-like blast of tracks like 'Superior' firmly puts the band in new territory.
Trouble is, Dimension F3H simply isn't good at what they do. Few things are more frustrating than a bad band with a record deal, and one of those few is a bad band that occasionally shows promise, but so inconsistently that it's not worth pursuing. Morfeus has a handful of sound ideas here, but they are either bracketed by filler or so exhausted by repetition that no song stands out as a winner. 'Babylon' has a vibe that briefly invokes Zyklon or The Project Hate, but falls short of either's punch (fans of the latter may still enjoy this, however). The title track has a mildly engaging interlude section with a throbbing string arrangement and clean vocal harmonies, but kills the momentum by descending back into the leering, plodding chorus.
Another issue is the production, which is quite unkind to Morfeus' wayward songwriting. Riffs that should have death metal chunk are anemic; drums that should have some black thrash rawness are soulless; keys that should sweep like Gothic metal are tinny; and vocals that should be ravenous are drab. Too, his attempts at breakdowns are simply unmentionable.
Once unpredictable, maybe even a bit avant-garde, Dimension F3H is now an obsolete parody: one lyric includes the word "cyberworld", and, in a graver misstep, another childish lyric about suicide-- "Alone again and I'm sitting in my room, it's dark outside, and this life is ending soon"--is called "Final Solution". To be fair, the implications of this phrase in English may not weigh upon non-native speakers (Soilwork also used it in 'Nerve') but the lyric is still insipid at best. In comparison, 'Reaping...' was no poetic masterpiece, but Nesmoth at least helped deflect the focus away from the lyrics and towards the delivery. On 'Does...', Morfeus' processed pitch-shifting and meager harsh vocals make listening to the lyrics unavoidable.
Not wholly a loss, 'Does...' features one unexpectedly compelling passage in the chorus of 'CyberQueen'. The song's instrumentation is largely forgettable, as is the second half of the chorus, not to mention the completely flat verse, but Morfeus hits a deftly melancholic progression in the bridge section that shifts from guitar to his chorus vocals. It's a small victory (very small), but in the context of an album called 'Does the Pain Excite You?' is the best we're likely to get.
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