If nothing else, the Dimensions of Horror EP, the latest release from the Matt Harvey-led semi-super group/Death tribute act Gruesome, proves that Savage Land was not a one-off affair. Is Gruesome going to be a long-term project? I guess an EP doesn’t necessarily answer that question conclusively. Will Gruesome explore other eras of the Death discography? If Dimensions of Horror is any indication, the answer is no; this EP draws primary inspiration from the Scream Blood Gore /Leprosy era, as did Savage Land.
I’m not sure if the metal world as a whole was clamoring for more early Death worship, but I was. Scream Bloody Gore is my favorite Death album, because it is, without a doubt, the most fun of the bunch. It’s brutal, gore-spattered fun, but fun nonetheless. As Death ultimately progressed, much more was gained than lost, but that sense of fun was one of the casualties of that progression. Matt Harvey knows a thing or two about gore-spattered fun, having spent a quarter century tinkering with Carcass’s blueprint in Exhumed, and as he did on Savage Land, he puts that knowledge to good use on this EP.
Dimensions of Horror differs most significantly from Savage Land in the compact simplicity of its tracks; all six songs on this release are under four minutes. And where Savage Land had a few hints of the more technical material of Death’s later work, Dimensions of Horror has almost none. This EP leans more on thrashy ferocity to get the job done, as evidenced by the burning opener “Forces of Death” and, well, pretty much everything else that follows.
The crown jewel of this recording is undoubtedly the title track, which, in three minutes and forty-seven seconds, features every facet of the early Death sound: the horror movie theme melody, face-ripping thrash, a catchy chorus, a melodic interlude, and some heavy hitting grooves. It never ceases to amaze me how well Gruesome has this sound down.
I’m not sure how much further and in what direction Gruesome intends to take this Death tribute business, but at some point it would seem prudent for the band to develop its own sound. Then again, Christ knows we’ve had way more than our fair share of Carcass and Entombed clones, so if Gruesome keeps mining the early Death sound for gold like Dimensions of Horror, I guess it could be a Hell of a lot worse. If you enjoyed Savage Land, there’s no reason this won’t do the trick for you.