This Swedish quartet's sound -- quick-progressing start-and-stop guitar leads, stampeding double-bass-pedal percussion, vocals just on the blurry side of decipherable, sheepish melodies in rabid wolves' clothing -- has been done before, but it's seldom been done this well in the past decade. Keeping that period's best elements (classically informed cool-downs, a prog-rock-opera's worth of time-signature changes violently stuffed into a three-minute frame) and eliminating its frills (screeching show-off solos that added nothing to the compositions), Dimension Zero blasts through nine chilling examples of precision brutality in thirty minutes. Its unintentionally whimsical title might conjure images of disco-dancing wise men, but Silent Night Fever is dead serious. It's also powerful enough to downgrade nearly the entire Ozzfest roster to lowly "metal" status.
While Dimension Zero revives a moribund art, Burnt by the Sun excels at a pursuit of recent vintage: injecting extreme metal with winking indie-rock pop-culture literacy ("Dow Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "Shooter McGavin" are among the song titles) and free-jazz abstraction. At times, Burnt by the Sun seems to plod along in measured slow-motion stomps, an illusion assisted by its occasional shifts into mind-blowing hyperspeed. In reality, the group moves at a moderately brisk pace, stopping only for chugging breakdowns and voice-and-guitar isolation exercises during which riffs dangle like severely tested bungee cords. But for music fans who appreciate technical proficiency regardless of genre, as well as for head-bangers trying to grasp the shape of metal to come, Burnt by the Sun's ambitious effort could become the Soundtrack of the summer.