Dim Mak — Intercepting Fist (2002)

11.04.2002  :: АрхивАрхив рецензий Автор: Chris Alfano

When three-fifths of the original Ripping Corpse line up reunited to release 1999’s ‘Enter The Dragon’, the journalistic community responded in a curious manner. Their reviews were generally favorable, but it seemed that Dim Mak were repeatedly slapped with the «metalcore» label. Such classification isn’t necessarily wrong, but those writers who were content to ignore that album’s myriad thrash underpinnings were guilty of deception. Dim Mak had certainly not abandoned their roots, and this fine tradition continues today with the release of ‘Intercepting Fist’.

Perhaps I should be a little less critical of the band’s past reviewers, as many elements that define metalcore were derived from the 80’s thrash scene. Breakdowns, technical riffs, and even blast beats were introduced via thrash, although most of these devices were originally borrowed from hardcore, then refined. Over the past five years or so, I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that most metalcore bands are overwhelmingly influenced by the first three Slayer albums. This nextricably ties them to thrash scene, rather than its hardcore counterpart. Hence, someone without the benefit of a proper historical perspective could easily mistake certain thrash-influenced bands for those of the metalcore variety.

However, I would be very hesitant to describe Dim Mak as a «thrash-influenced» outfit, because under the Ripping Corpse moniker, they played a part in creating that scene. They may not have garnered as much attention as their west coast peers, but this was probably more a function of geography than of innovation. Furthermore, their tendency toward technical overkill put Ripping Corpse on a pedestal that few could touch. While most of the world outside of New Jersey was blissfully unaware of their presence, Ripping Corspe was churning out warped tunes that (along with Revenant) inspired an entire generation of bands to ditch subtlety in favor of over-the-top extremity.

With that in mind, let it be known that remnants of Dim Mak’s past are scattered liberally throughout ‘Intercepting Fist’. The most obvious signs are found in tracks such as «Tai Pan Snake Venom» and «Phoenix Eye Fist», both of which sport appropriately thrashy riffs and sweeping solos from guitarist Shaune Kelley. Further evidence rears its ugly head during «Interceptor», «Climbing Knife Mountain», and «Essence Of The Northern Fists». The three aforementioned tracks are based on similar grounds, but with more of a hardcore twist.

Common comparisons are difficult to draw, but those unfamiliar with Dim Mak’s past exploits might find it helpful to imagine Nasty Savage getting together with Exodus for a musical gang-bang, with Roger Miret of Agnostic Front providing color commentary. The riffing is fast and often unpredictable, while the soloing is more subdued, and even moody in spots. Vocalist Scott Ruth tops everything off with his usual caustic shouts, which are somewhat monotonous, but not annoyingly so.

As for lyrics and imagery, Dim Mak’s are based almost entirely on a martial arts theme. This might seem silly or cartoonish to some, but the subject matter is well-researched and expressed in a unique manner. In fact, I’m amazed that the band didn’t resort to using dialogue samples from cheesy 70’s Kung Fu flicks to fill space between tracks. How many other bands could resist such a tempatation? The answer is none.

As a whole, I’m impressed with ‘Intercepting Fist’ in every respect, with the exception of production. Interestingly, all knob-twisting duties for this disc were handled by a man who is known not only for his tenure with such bands as Morbid Angel and Hate Eternal, but also for his old affiliation with Ripping Corpse. Yes, I’m afraid it’s true: none other than Eric Rutan has left his former band mates with a flat production that leaves much to be desired. I don’t mean to imply that a «cleaner» sound would have been better suited here, as Dim Mak is definitely a band that benefits from the dark, gritty aura that results from analog recording. Unfortunately, Rutan seems to have deprived this record of its «punch» in the process. When all is said and done, this is still a well-crafted album from a highly dedicated band. Enjoy.

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