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I'm going to start this off by stating that the only reason I gave this a 20% is because I still have a soft spot for Dimmu Borgir. I've been following this band for quite some time now and while they have releases I actually quite enjoy, I was a little awestruck by this album. In fact, I feel the same about every release after Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. Let it be known (if you didn't know prior) that Dimmu Borgir is the like the lonely goth kid sitting alone at the lunch table; when it comes to black metal, it simply does not belong
The first drawback to this album, which I also think is the biggest flaw, is the overuse of the orchestra. It seems as if they paid off the composer to write the entire album for them and then decided later that guitar riffing would be a good idea throughout. The orchestra is actually so loud in some songs that it takes away from the potential of any catchy guitar lead. I feel the album would have been more respected if they left this part out entirely.
The guitars in some of the tracks were actually quite impressive, given how poorly written these songs are. Not Dimmu Borgir's best work, but it also seems they're not hard pressed for ideas after being at it for so long, which is probably due to the fact that everyone and their mother has been in the band at some point. The track "A Jewel Traced Through Coal" I felt was the best song on the album. After listening to the rest of the smut prior to this track, I was actually pleased to hear something good come out of it. However, about halfway through, I snapped back to reality and realized it was Dimmu Borgir. I instantly disregarded any good this song did for the album when I reminisced on their prior material. Albums such as Stormblast and Enthrone Darkness Triumphant seemed legendary in light of this record.
There's not a whole lot to comment on when it comes to the vocals except that Shagrath decided that layering his voice four or fives times might actually make him sound better. The overproduction of the vocals was easily another major mistake on this album. Any gain or presence in his voice almost seemed programmed, like the producer ran his voice through a Line 6 combo amp on the highest gain setting imaginable.
How anybody can sit in the studio while recording this and actually think this is worth releasing is beyond me. I'm actually very disappointed in this record and I'm certainly not going to hold my breath for a comeback. Ever since Death Cult Armageddon, I feel as if Dimmu Borgir is trying their hardest to feature on the next kid's bop record. Hell, we may even see them on the Disney channel in a few years if they keep this up. I feel I've spent more energy on this review then I did listening to the entire album, so I guess I'll wrap this up by simply saying, don't waste your time!