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Don't you just love it when a good band stagnates more and more with every album they release. Dimmu Borgir's first two releases, being 94's For All Tid and 96's Stormblåst were two well-done pieces of Norwegian melodic black metal...despite being second-wave, and therefore lacking the primitive greatness of their black metal forefathers. Their next release, Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, showed a shift to a more keyboard-dominated sound..but that didn't take *much* away from them and it was another polished release. I don't have the privelage of owning Spiritual Black Dimensions...but I can imagine that it is alot like EDT. Puritanical Euphoric Misantophia, the band's next album marked a change in Dimmu Borgir sound...concentrating even more on the keyboard element. It was at this point where I stopped referring to Dimmu Borgir as a black metal band, but a symphonic heavy metal band with black metal roots. If it hadn't been for the crushing riffs on this album(hats off to Galder) I would have hated the album. But now...onto the band's latest album, Death Cult Armageddon.
You can tell how much of an effort Dimmu Borgir puts into being "evil" with such a ridiculous title for the album....sure, being played on MTV is -very- evil Since I wasn't entirely pleased with the band's previous recording, I downloaded this album....which I look back on as a very good choice. There are plenty of things I like about Death Cult Armageddon, first and foremost that the crushing riffs have returned as well as merciless fast-paced drumming by non-other than ex-CoF drummer Nick Barker. Death Cult Armageddon brings in not just Barker, but three members from well-known bands which almost makes Dimmu Borgir a "supergroup" such as Borknagar or Bloodbath. Unfortunately their talents are nearly rendered useless by the keyboards, which are overwhelming at some parts.
The worst thing about this album, as you may have picked up already, are the keyboards. This is not Lord of the Rings, this is a metal CD. So why do all the keyboard pieces sound like the background music to the opening sequence of the film? It's not just the keyboards that deem this album "nothing special", it's the boring riffage througout the entire production. There seems to be no variation in the way the guitar parts are played, it's the same fast paced power chords, or the same boring lead guitar. The band's vocalist, with his laughable evil carpet name Shagrath has very little variety when it comes to his "grim" vocals either. It's the same gutteral screams or heavily distorted screams on track after track. However, his vocals have improved since Dimmu Borgir's early days.
Finally, this review earns the title "Black Metal...my ass!" because of it's label. Any teenage kid that you speak with will refer to this album as a piece of "evil black metal"...just as the media might portray them. I listen quite heavily to black metal music...and I've listened enough to know the qualities of black metal...and this is not it. First off, the album focuses too much on their beloved keyboard, instead of guitar riffs or an overall dark feeling. What Dimmu Borgir has done here is used a few black metal riffs and drum beats and watered them, mixing it with commercial appeal. There was once a time when black metal bands hated the mainstream and tried to avoid making their music listenable and playable by networks like MTV and Fuse. This album as good production, and that's a black metal sin. If the kind of music on this album is looked upon as the "future of black metal" I'll never by a modern black metal CD again.
The only good song on this release is Vredesbyrd...download it, love it, ignore the rest of this CD. If you really must hear it, don't fuel this band's future efforts by providing them with the profits from this album. Don't purchase it.