Dimension Act – Manifestation of Progress

For better and worse, the traditional sound of progressive metal is still alive and well. DIMENSION ACT is another recent adherent to the synth-laden, time signature-hopping style fist pioneered (and soon mastered) by acts like Dream Theater two decades ago. Although this style has been failing to hold up the ‘progressive’ end of the bargain for quite some time now, it has not stopped bands from making some really engaging music with the formula. Of these ‘Dream Theater clones’, perhaps only the UK’s HAKEN have ever managed to churn out a true classic in recent years, and while DIMENSION ACT’s debut does not inspire that ‘wow’ feeling that I look for in progressive metal, their tried-and-true approach to the genre succeeds at what it sets out to do.

I could possibly write for hours about whether or not this ‘let’s be prog without being progressive’ trend in progressive rock and metal is a good or a bad thing, but to simplify, I’ll say that if a band is going to follow a prescribed formula, their only chance to reach the golden tier is if they’re able to do it better than damned near everyone else. To this effect, DIMENSION ACT are less than successful, although their performing prowess is evident from the start. Throughout the album, the band plays a technically skilled, yet melodic blend of prog metal complexity and power metal flair. Keyboardist Kristian Berg and guitarist Marius Nilsen in particular each stand out for their contributions. The typically fast-paced sound is built around classically-styled melodies, and- as per DREAM THEATER canon- much of the instrumentation contends with a back-and-forth play between the keys and guitars.

DIMENSION ACT do this rather well, and though progressive metal has a tendency to take virtuosic musicianship for granted, the musicianship of the band never ceases to impress. If there is anything that keeps DIMENSION ACT from taking their music into the bowels of glory, it is the songwriting, particular in the first three ‘shorter’ tracks. Although the ideas are always solid on their own, it feels like DIMENSION ACT falls into a formula-within-a-formula, that is; using a small handful of musical ideas and modifying them slightly o make other songs with them. The opener ‘Cosmic Chaos’ has a powerful introduction, instantly making their adherence to DREAM THEATER clearly known, but demonstrating an intensity that had me excited from the start. However, by the second track, its intro sounded so similar to that of the first that I almost felt that the first song simply repeated. Thankfully, this sense of deja- vu is broken with their ‘Perspectives’ epic, but utterly formulaic songwriting makes the first half of the album very difficult to distinguish on a song-to-song basis.

Although seasoned proggers may find themselves anaesthetized to the novelty of a half- hour epic, there is a certain prerequisite of skill involved in pulling it off, and as cliche as the monster ‘Perspectives’ is, it impresses greatly for its wealth of different musical ideas and dramatic ebb-and-flow. Compared to the signature epics of progressive metal, it lacks the ‘full circle’ element that would have made it sound like a complete composition, rather than a quasi-rhapsody of prog-power metal episodes. It may pale in comparison to ‘A Change of Seasons’ or ‘No Exit’, but the level of skill and consistent power of the musical passages in the epic lifts DIMENSION ACT’s debut out of a purely run-of-the-mill status.

DIMENSION ACT is a little too derivative, but they are impressive, perhaps moreso than most of their like-sounding contemporaries. The talent and energy is certainly here, and hopefully- like their fellow Norwegians in LEPROUS- they will eventually depart from the typical prog metal sound in favour for something a little more unique. Until then, ‘Manifestation of Progress’ is a fine prog-power album in need of an identity.


1. Cosmic Chaos (5:07)
2. Industrial Evilution (9:49)
3. Uncharted Waters (8:17)
4. Drawing the Lines of Mortal Existence (31:39)


* Tom-Vidar Salangli – Lead and backing vocals
* Marius Nilsen – Electric and acoustic guitars, additional keyboards
* Kristan Berg – Keyboards
* Tommy Granli – Bass guitars
* Frank Nordeng Røe – Drums and percussion



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