HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Dimension Zero - Silent Night Fever
(Century Media)

In Flames guitarist Jesper Stromblad and ex-In Flames guitarist Glenn Ljungstrom enlisted current In Flames vocalist Anders Friden to produce this follow-up to the six years back EP Penetrations From The Lost World. The sound enclosed is like gritty, violent, power-packed, fast In Flames with Swedish death vocals provided by Jocke Gothberg, ex of Marduk. Friden is a big part of this record's success, somehow (accidentally) massaging in a couple layers of distortion, one that undoubtedly emanates from the fuzzy guitars, one that seems to fall out of the drums. Think new Crown, old Soilwork, all Haunted and timeless At The Gates, but with a sense of confident, compressed mission that supercedes all four. A little samey (quick and quicker, save for hangover cure 'Slow Silence') and a little shoved into a glut of farsightedly high quality bands and albums like things, but nevertheless, a half hour of heart palpitations and devil horn salutations.
Rating 8

U.D.O. - Man And Machine

I'd give the edge to the last couple of U.D.O. albums over this one, Man And Machine containing a few faults amongst the general faultlessness of any U.D.O. presentation. First off, the album's man versus technology theme is a tired one, over-examined in metal and - guess what? - just not that interesting. Wrapping it up is cover art that blows. The duet with Doro, Dancing With An Angel is a rote-by-numbers power ballad, thus a chuckler and a chucker. Much of the rest sifts into solidly acceptable (and never truly passionate) and utterly filler-faceless. Granted, the band was going for a subdued Balls To The Wall simplicity, and this they got, songs starting with leaden riffs which often fall away for verses that loiter. So the sum total is quite melodic and commercial, plodding the middle line, the band doing their usual very pure metal job of the playing and production (big, convincing, manic mechanic guitars and steely, hard, exact rhythms) but really stripping the songwriting too ruthlessly in search of some sort of meat and potatoes metal self-evidence.
Rating 6.5

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