Dimman is a self-described “modern metal” band that sounds nothing like what we take to be modern metal. Hailing from Finland, they play a symphonically-inclined, at times borderline metalcore and power metal-like melodeath with harsh death vocals all the downtuned goodness mixed with tasty leads, tied together with good drumming and a very solid bass (when you can hear either of those.) Guide My Fury is their debut, four-and-a-half track EP (see below.)
The style played here is achieved through some very nice playing and solid song structures that border on progressive. That is the album’s biggest strength, that transitions between and into parts feels organic and natural throughout. This owes much to Jaakko Yli-Sorvari and Mikael Haapala’s guitar work. When he can be heard, Elias Halkola’s bass ties it together, and there is some very comptent, razor-sharp playing on the EP (check out the tail end of Harbinger for a taste of tasty, tasty bass.) The drumming is nothing to scoff at either – delivered in a nice, semi-improvisational flare over tried-and-true beats, making for a nice bow and definitely something to pay attention to… when it can be heard and felt.
As for vocals, Valtteri Hakola’s style is tad on the “death” side of the equation, in that he employs those low, guttural growls. He does break character in My Head My Prison but when he does, his voice is better suited for a neo-prog or your average power metal album, and it’s clear that while able, clean singing is not his forte. He is a good vocalist, but not a Mikael Stanne or Björn Strid level man in terms of diversity, that’s for sure.
Now, while things get off to a good start with the title-drop track and succeeding highlight Harbinger, the second biggest problem of the EP emerges in the form of track number three, My Head My Prison. It is a mid-tempo gothic metal number. It’s bright tones and frilly guitars create a disparately empty atmosphere that’s actually pretty hollow, despite an attempt to tug at the heartstrings with attempted soaring vocals that have a very flat tone for the aim. It disrupts the thus-far galloping flow by bringing it to a standstill that costs the band established cred so far.
This, coupled with the pointless instrumental ballad that is the closer, which is the orchestral version of My Head My Prison, renders 40% of the album (so nearly half) worthless. Not a good sign.
Which brings us to the biggest problem of the album: the production. It runs Guide My Fury to the ground. It’s so senselessly muddy, so much of a clusterfuck that at times the music feels like it’s trying to claw its way out of a fresh grave that’s been soaking up heavy rain for the past three hours, but it’s not punchy or sharp enough to be intentional. The guitars are muddled, the drums are dry and sort of dull, the bass fades in and out (check out Harbinger,) and the vocals tend to get overwhelmed by everything else. The keyboards and orchestral elements never manage to quite break through. Things trample over one another for headroom that just isn’t there. It just sounds ugly and messy, and is so badly produced that all the stellar musicianship won’t save it, especially since Guide My Fury comes with its wide variety of frills and tries to cram too much into a cramped and bogged-down production.
That in and of itself is an interesting choice, because in an age of brickwalled productions and high casualty rates of the Loudness War, for a band to do the utter opposite should mean nice dynamics, a good, solid mix, but Dimman seems to have gone a bit too far off the other end.
So in conclusion, Dimman is your cup of tea if you’re down with that sort of thing. If you like your melodeath with death, a touch of -core and a side of power metal, go for it. Otherwise, better look elsewhere, to something with much better production.
Valtteri Halkola – vocals
Jaakko Yli-Sorvari – guitars
Mikael Haapala – guitars
Elias Halkola – bass
Samppa Raittila – drums
01. Guide My Fury
03. My Head My Prison
04. Pitch-Black Morning
05. My Head My Prison (Orchestral version)