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After raising eyebrows with their preceding full-length "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia", Dimmu Borgir had lofty expectations to reach with Death Cult Armageddon. The inclusion of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra spearheads the album's fervently symphonic sound, taking many cues from their preceding full length.
While the orchestral effects were used sparingly in the past, they are brought to the forefront on Death Cult Armageddon, profoundly overshadowing Mustis' lackluster work on the keys. Regardless, the orchestra is used wisely; for example, completely driving the single: "Progenies of The Great Apocalypse". The prime complaint of many is that the symphonic effects often oversaturate the sound and mask the pedestrian guitarwork that is present. Now while I am not the biggest fan of Galder/Silenoz duo, "Cataclysm Children" nearly makes up for their follies and lack of direction on the majority of this release. Chugging, powerchord-driven riffs are the order of the day for the most part, with few exceptions.
The production is without a doubt, stellar. Quite gratuitous in the low end while maintaining a very smooth balance. The deafening drum level of their last release has finally been toned down. Regardless, Nick Barker delivers an incredibly tight and technical performance. I.C.S. Vortex is adequate on bass, but really shines with his clean vocal contributions. If anything, he should have been utilized more; his vocal sections often come as a fresh of breath air, since many of the songs tend to drag on. Shagrath's vocals are, however, a vocoder dependent mess; absolutely destroying the promising intro of "Blood Hunger Doctrine". Why he opted to deviate to this vocal style baffles me, its damn near laughable at points. Furthering the anguish, soundclips are used routinely. An art that, in moderation, helps add backing and direction to the music. Here, it is entirely mismanaged, throwing tracks off balance just when they seem to start going somewhere...
The album maintains a halfhearted consistency throughout the first half, but flounders a bit near the end due to filler. The atmospheric, Norwegian-spoken "Allehelgens DÃ¸d I Helveds Rike" has the be the most complete track on the album, showcasing all of the positive this release has to offer. "Vredesbyrd", along with the aforementioned tracks are all worth your time. The rest of the album consists of overlong filler tracks, with only a few good ideas sprinkled throughout minute upon excruciating minute of croaking, chugging, and movie soundclips. Abbath is buried somewhere in there, but his presence is little more than a gimmick, just like what this entire band is starting to become. Fans of the band will find this worth a listen, and I did enjoy many of the tracks; but don't expect all 63 minutes to be captivating.