Retro-Review: ‘Dimensions’ by Believer

Believer’s 1993 album Dimensions is one of those albums I took a chance on due to the glowing reviews from Borivoj Krgin.

Krgin was the reviewer I trusted most at Metal Maniacs and when he said something was exceptional, I usually took that as a cue to go buy an album.

I wouldn’t usually pick up an album by a band from the Christian scene. It’s not really got to do as much with religion as it is simply with most of the groups seeming to be boring knockoffs of better bands.

So, when Krgin, who was openly atheist then, recommended Believer, I thought there must be something to them.

Man, he was right.

Dimensions is one of those albums you could call an “experience.” All of the different elements mesh to create a beautiful soundscape, leaving a lasting impression on the listener.

Interestingly, I’d say that Believer shares a lot in common with the band Atheist, which is sort of a progressive avant-garde style that likes to throw convention out the window. Sonically speaking, they also have a crisp sound that’s akin to Anacrusis’ Screams and Whispers.

But, Believer does not sound like either of those bands. They have carved an identity out for themselves, much of it having to do with their incorporation of instruments like cellos and violins. They don’t use samples of those instruments, instead, they actually play them or bring in the players.

This all leads to a sound that is memorable and enjoyable. Yes, lyrically, they do talk about their belief in a higher power, but it’s not the “oh woe is me, I’m a persecuted Christian” or “Jesus will make everything bunnies and rainbows” that we’ve gotten used to over the last couple of decades. Instead, a good deal of their lyrics aren’t overtly religious and when they are, they tend to take a more intellectual approach, which somehow is much less annoying than the deliveries we’re used to from that scene.

Believer’s lineup on Dimensions is Kurt Bachman, who handles vocal and guitar duties; Joey Daub, drums; and Jim Winters, bass and guitar. Additional musicians include Scott Laird  on violins and violas, Glenn Fischbach on cello, Julianne Laird Hoge singing soprano and William Keller – doing a speaking voice

All in all, this rather odd mix creates a great, eclectic experience.

The album

Gone” kicks things off. It’s a very precise sounding song, with Believer kicking things into a sort of groovy progressive sound. It’s good at giving you a taste of what the band’s about. If you like “Gone” then you’ll probably like the rest of the album. If you don’t like “Gone” then you probably won’t like what’s to come.

Following “Gone” is “Future Mind.” This song sees Believer kick things up a notch speed and shredding. Elsewhere on the album, ”No Apology” and “Singularity” are in the same vein, with “Singularity” probably being the most straightforward metal song on the album.

Dimentia” (yes, the song title is spelled that way) is one of the slower paced tracks and also one of the most interesting. It’s got a lot of good guitar melody going on and the song actually builds toward a climax, making it musically satisfying. It is also the first song to showcase the violin along with the guitar, to a beautiful effect.

What is but Cannot Be” is an interesting song because it combines the slower-paced guitar rhythm with the speed of a double bass drum, somehow combining two contradictory elements. Then it gets to one of the craziest, and coolest, guitar solos on the album. Not sure how to describe the sound, it’s almost, but not quite, an echo.

Of course the must-listen on this album is the symphonic metal suite “Trilogy of Knowledge.” This is a 20-minute long song that’s divided into an intro and three movements. It’s an amazing listen, with not only the band guitars and vocals, but also violins, cello and a female soprano voice, supplied by Julianna Laird Hoge. “Trilogy of Knowledge” certainly feels epic musically and unlike many extra-long songs in the same vein, it doesn’t get repetitive or monotonous. It holds together and it keeps the listener interested. If they released it as an EP alone, I’m sure many listeners would be satisfied.

The verdict

All in all, Dimensions is a good album. It goes a lot of places musically and has a lot of appeal to those beyond the Christian music scene. As far as their music goes, Believer isn’t boring and they match or surpass many of their metal contemporaries at the time.

Anyway, the decision to buy this album for many is going to come down to the Christian label. That’s just how it is, but like we’re used to hearing, keep an open mind. When it comes to Believer’s music, it’s pretty easy to look past the content of their lyrics.

 

Australian Amazon Shoppers: DIMENSIONS

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