It had been years since I last heard from The Forbidden Dimension. In fact, I thought that they had sadly stopped stalking the countryside and moved on to more innocuous hobbies.
So, when I discovered that, not only had they released a new album, ‘The Golden Age of Lasers’, but that I also had the opportunity to review it for !earshot*, I immediately put on my plastic fangs and prepared myself for a speaker-feature spookfest!
From the first few distorted piano notes of opening salvo “Where’s My Wolves?”, I knew that I was in for a devilishly tasty treat: it promised a forked tongue-in-cheek, late night TV-inspired spookshow – just as I’d hoped!
As soon as the guitar kicked in, I was completely gripped. Gawd, I love a crunchy riff! I was also pleased to hear what Type O Negative would call the “cheesy organ”; it so fills the album’s sound and fits the bill perfectly.
Add to this Jackson Phibes’ vocals and you’ve got a wicked creepshow mix. His is not a pretty voice, admittedly, but it’s nothing like Lemmy Kilmeister’s; it’s distinctive and ALSO easily enjoyable. I quite like it, actually.
One of The Forbidden Dimension’s distinguishing features are their themes, all revolving around b-movie horror and science-fiction. For anyone who’s into the whole ‘horror rock’ thing, they’re a whole heck of a lot o’ fun.
‘The Golden Age of Lasers’ is not as catchy or infectious as I’d like it to be, mind you, but it has muscle where it lacks in hooks. This is, primarily, a rock album. However, it’s a rock album with a different agenda: it’s not about parties and girls – it’s all about psychos and ghouls!
The album flows in a slightly muddied way; the songs don’t always distinguish themselves, for good or bad. Usually, tracks tend to play off of each other so as to enhance one another. I don’t feel that this is the case here. However, there are no weak spots at all – it’s just that the juxtapositions don’t work for me.
Aside from “Where Are My Wolves?”, some of my favourite tracks are:
-“Gag Odor”, an playful instrumental that brings to mind the original ‘The Munsters’ TV show.
-“Oculus Cursus”, featuring a chunky riff that really grabbed me. This sounded like classic TFD to me.
-“Choking on a Heartache”, with its great title, lyrics that resonate and thundering drums.
-“Eine Heine Frostmusik”, which combines a lovely synth lick and a tremendous buildup at the onset.
-“Lillydale Orphanage”, with its great opening guitar hook and awesome supporting keys. Yum.
In the end, ‘The Golden Age of Lasers’ should satisfy fans of The Forbidden Dimension. And as for novices… well, anyone who likes ooky, kooky, spooky stuff such as The Addams Family, will find this platter pitchfork-perfect.
As for me, I’m terribly pleased to have revisited The Forbidden Dimension after all this time and I plan many future returns. Dammit, now if only I had a Harley and a creepy Hallowe’en costume to wear, I’d be burning rubber to this soundtrack right now!
Post scriptum: Not to get superficial, but the cover artwork is a disappointment to me. The reason I even noticed this band so many years ago is because of the artwork on ‘Widow’s Walk’. I like Tom Bagley‘s (a.k.a. Tomb) work so much that I’d love to get prints to put on my walls.
Sadly, ‘The Golden Age of Lasers’ isn’t in the same league as previous albums. With a title like this I had imagined a black and white b-movie lab setting – not a fantasy setting of the ‘Heavy Metal’ variety. Oh well. At least the flipside features a really nice piece.
*this review was to be published in !earshot online magazine earlier this year. However, due to poor communication, this is its feature debut.