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(53:38 / Unicorn Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Serial 2:41 2. The World News 1:49 3. Justification 13:11 4. Silver Spoon 1:00 5. Heartbeat 3:18 6. Cordwood 7:51 7. Hazelnut 0:51 8. A Fifth of Madness 5:22 9. Epiphany's Flight 0:58 10. Lamentation 3:37 11. The Hospital 0:53 12. Retribution 5:01 13. Watercolor 6:57 LINEUP: Dave Hoover - vocals DR Burkowitz - bass Troy Stetina - guitars Jeff Konkol - keyboards Edward Shapanske - drums With: Angie Schmidt - cello
Prolusion. DIMENSION X is a quintet from the American state of Wisconsin. "Implications of a Genetic Defense" is a follow-up to their debut outing "So This is Earth" (2005).
Analysis. When reading the supporting material I was twice reminded of the fact that the release of this CD was expressly timed to Friday the 13th. Lyrically "Implications of a Genetic Defense" is a set of monologues in which a serial murder invites the listener to take his pathologic passion as being the result of his genetic constitution. On top of all that, the booklet is chockfull of repellent pictures that vividly portray the killer while massacring his victims. All in all, Dimension X shouldn't be surprised if many will find their efforts to present their new brainchild as a particular concept album to be too emphatic, if not ridiculous. Black Sabbath's self-titled debut LP saw the light of day on Friday the 13th as well, but that's happened due to the caprice of their recording company, contrary to the will of the band themselves. So, what we get here lyrically is yet another modified story of yet another Jack-the-Ripper, just projected into the future. Musically however, the album is no less outstanding than its predecessor, though it didn't do without a fly in the ointment in that field too. There are seven songs and six instrumental pieces on this 53-minute recording, the compositions more varying in length than in style, but although much of the music is still symphonic Prog-Metal, this time around it doesn't seem to be completely free of outside factors, Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime" being as much representative in this respect as any of King Diamond's concept albums, beginning with "Them". The point is that most of the instrumentals are small self-contained musical vignettes, all without exception combining a sinister atmosphere with narratives, most of which in turn represent news of the world that seem to be recorded immediately from a TV set. Since those cuts inevitably separate some fully-fledged songs from the others, they to some degree deprive the album of cohesion. Otherwise the music is very good, regardless of whether you can overlook the sketches or not. The remaining short cut Epiphany's Flight, featuring a virtual orchestra, fluidly flows into Lamentation, a reflective symphonic piece with only piano, strings and vocals in the arrangement. With its disturbing piano and low, semi-sung semi-narrated vocals, Heartbeat is most of all reminiscent of King Diamond's work, well, except for the song's very beginning where the bass's heartbeat-like pulsation is certainly just another flat trick in the series, appearing in a way like an off-screen laugh in modern TV comedies (you know, whose directors seem to be sure that their audience consists exclusively of idiots). One way or another, the band's ability to craft compositions that are both complex and totally coherent best of all manifests itself when they work with prog-metal textures, regardless of whether they remain within the idiom throughout, such as on Serial, Justification, Cordwood and Retribution, or push its frontiers by widely introducing elements of the other genres, namely electronic on (the remaining instrumental) A Fifth of Madness and symphonic on Watercolor, though the most striking element of each of these tracks is their remarkably steadfast quality as musical creations. The playing is lively throughout and is full of passion, technically approaching the best of Dream Theater, but since the prevailing mood is dark, the three aforesaid groups each come to mind much more often, so if I were forced to use anything else as a collective reference point, I'd have without hesitation cited "Burnt Offerings", Iced Earth's sole masterpiece. Finally I'd like to mention that Dave Hoover has a very original low-pitched voice, his vocal style and singing as such both well suiting the music.
Conclusion. Despite all the above criticism, let me assure you that, with the deduction of its lyrical component on the one hand and with a greater thematic connectedness on the other, this album would've been a masterwork that would have instantly transported its makers into the upper echelon of Prog-Metal. Recommended with minor reservations.
VM: November 14, 2007
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