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Open The Nile - "Visions Of The Next Dimension" (CD)

Open The Nile - "Visions Of The Next Dimension" CD cover image

"Visions Of The Next Dimension" track listing:

1. Descent Into Denile
2. Vivid Degradation
3. Pathogen Eradication
4. Perish
5. An Absolute Memory
6. Blessed
7. Immortalized

Reviewed by on May 26, 2012

"Melodic, eccentric, unpredictable - check. But in pure metal terms, they deliver the goods on time and on target, with terrifying intensity."

To take another whack at a decomposing horse, Opeth’s shedding of death metal influences was a long, gradual process, not an instantaneous bombshell in the form of “Heritage.” Anyone longing for the fire and fury of early works “Orchid” and “Morningrise” will find it scattered among countless acts worldwide, not the least of which is New York City’s promising Open Denile. So let’s leave poor Opeth alone, at long last. Forget you even read this paragraph.

Too direct a comparison between one of the world’s leading veteran musical innovators and an underground band with one independent album to its name? Perhaps. After all, the appropriately titled “Visions Of The Next Dimension” is a largely futuristic affair, built around rhythmic, mechanical riff-grinding and quick-footed blasting, where most hooks and melodies evoke a grim doomsday scenario – a far cry from the surreal and organic warmth one can experience from Opeth’s lighter moments. But lead growler Stephen Kain also contributes full-time keyboards and organs, elevating songs like “Pathogen Eradication,” “Perish,” and “Immortalized” to airy, jazzy heights amidst the unfolding carnage – which takes a bow during mellow instrumental “An Absolute Memory,” a welcome six minutes of repose that could’ve been conceived in a smoke-filled New Orleans speakeasy. When Kain’s fingers retreat to the atmospheric background, as on the bulk of “Vivid Degradation,” guitarist Craig Storer takes over with some creative lead and harmonic work of his own, ensuring that none of this album’s multiple layers is ever absent.

Storer’s clean backing vocals bring another Akerfeldtian dimension to the music, though they’re considerably shaky and tentative here, and thus an overall weak point in execution. Also nagging is the fact that the two most solid cuts, “Blessed” and “Immortalized,” happen to be the shortest (save for the creepy industrial intro). This raises the question of whether certain songs would’ve fared better if chopped in half and fleshed out further as separate pieces. Today’s short attention span is a sad reality, and Open Denile’s potential impact may be maximized through some editing, or at least an improved shuffling of musical ideas.

Admittedly, the drawn-out song is another Opeth trademark, and the fact that it doesn’t always work for Open Denile highlights a refreshing distinction that separates them from the progressive titans they otherwise so plainly admire: at the end of the day, they’re a death metal band. Melodic, eccentric, unpredictable – check. But in pure metal terms, they deliver the goods on time and on target, with terrifying intensity. That’s the reason I didn’t add “pretentious” to the checklist.

Highs: "Blessed," "Immortalized," "An Absolute Memory," and an overall creative blending of progressive and jazz-influenced keys with the heaviest of death metal.

Lows: The occasional clean vocals, while well-placed and full of potential, are rough and don't carry the impact they should. Also, the plethora of ideas crammed into single songs could've been more strongly concentrated and developed over multiple tracks.

Bottom line: While there's room for improvement, this is progressive death metal that actually earns the description. A masterpiece may yet be on the horizon.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)