Dimma - Stigmata
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Okay, hands up who has continued to ignore STUK's many mentions of Dimma over the last couple of years. I bet that's most of you reading this. Shame on you. There's a reason I continue to mention the band at every opportunity, and it isn't just the Dennis Dunaway connection, although that's reason enough. The reason is quite simple. They are one of the best bands out there. Period. The first Dimma album was a stunning work full of power, menace, twists and turns. Amazing musicianship and beautifully crafted songs. A musical tour de force that wiped the floor with pretty much everything around when it was released.
Now it's time for volume two, entitled 'Sigmata', on which Dimma simply serve up more of the same, with the added bonus that Dennis actually plays on this one! So you have no excuses this time.
'Sigmata' is a concept album "that begins with a birth and ends on a death note." The concept is reflected on the album cover, which is an actual 3D sonar picture of an unborn baby in it's mother's womb. It's caused some controversy in their home country of Iceland despite the fact the baby girl has now been born and the photo was used with the full permission of the parents.
'Stigmata' opens with 'Rosebud' and it's immediately clear that the band haven't lost any of their power since the first album. The production (again by Silli and Ingo) is superb. The bass pumps, the guitars crunch and Hjalti's vocals are clear and passionate. Play it LOUD!
'Mama' follows, which is actually a cover of fellow Icelandic band The Sugarcubes, but Dimma make it their own. It fits perfectly well with their own material. 'Dimmey' opens with a bass riff which vibrates the floor. Acoustic guitars arrive which sets the mood before the crushing riff comes in. Additional vocals by Elisabet Eyporsdottir add a haunting feel to the piece. All through the album there are distinct suggestions of a Pink Floyd (The Wall) influence coming through.
The title track starts with more acoustic guitar and a Gilmour-esque guitar motif. A slow build up with an eerie atmosphere makes way for a huge Sabbath-like riff. Dimma are masters of using light and shade in their music. Then it takes a sudden left turn as they up the tempo and lift off. There's even an excellent drum break towards the end (with calypso-ish rhythms!) that allows then to launch into the end section.
"U & I" lightens the mood with a more laid back ballad, with that Floyd influence coming through again. More great acoustic playing. 'Masterplan' heavy's things up again, but while Dimma are a heavy band, they never lose sight of the song and the melody. There's also always things going on in the background behind the main riffs and vocals to keep things interesting.
'Machina' returns to the harder stuff. "I'm the master, I am more then a machine, I can be anything that you want me to be". The angular lead guitars run over a crunching riff. 'All The King's Men' continues the feel before we arrive at 'Desert Nightwish', the song Ingo co-wrote with Dennis Dunaway back in 2006 based around a bass riff that Dennis wrote around the time of 'Killer' but was never finished. Dennis himself provides the pulsing basslines. The longest track on the album, here there is again a definite Floyd feel, although it's unlikely that band would ever have made it sound this heavy. More female vocals, this time by Andrea Gylfadottir, float over the music in places and Ingo's guitar work is simply stunning. The song is a real epic that just builds and builds.
While in many ways 'Desert Nightwish' is the big climax of the album, the final track (the "death note" mentioned earlier) is like a epilogue with it's beautiful acoustic guitars and leads, which remind me a great deal of some of the Scorpions early ballads. This leads to an emotive vocal from Hjalti which flows over an almost electronic drum beat and synth washes to great effect before the guitars crash back in, again scorpions-like to take the song to it's end. "you, you'll never love me anyway...."
In case you haven't got the message yet, once again Dimma have created an album that can stand head and shoulders with ANYTHING out there. It's packed with classic material and excellent performances by all concerned. Just buy a copy now!
Hjalti Omar Agustsson: Lead Vocals
Ingo Geirdal: Guitars, Bass & Piano
Silli Geirdal: Bass, Vocals, Guitars and Keyboards
Bjarki Magnusson: Drums and Percussion