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When someone says the word Black metal, most minds will think of Dimmu Borgir. No single doubt. From all those bands, Dimmu Borgir seems to be the most known. With a small mainstream success, it seems to outweigh pretty much every other black metal band. Yet, as we all know, success is not a keyword for quality. A black metal album gone mainstream seems like a paradox, but Dimmu Borgir quite happened to break that taboo.
Enter Death Cult Armageddon.
It’s quite interesting to track down the Dimmu Borgir albums and notice the big change the music has made. Beginning with For All Tid, Dimmu Borgir started as a melodic black metal band with symphonic elements. Their sound was very underground; atmospheric production, Norwegian lyrics, instruments played with passion and emotion. Their sound hasn’t got much of a change until Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropy. Dimmu Borgir became a symphonic black metal band, with an addition of a orchestra. It quite worked and several classics were written, but there also was a negative side on it. They became too popular. To satisfy the likes of more people that they could ever dream of, they did the thing that disappointed most of the older fans. Dimmu Borgir specialized on only one thing. The orchestra.
The music Dimmu Borgir make themselves, sounds very stale. Everything sounds the same, and barely progresses. When a song starts, the feeling will stay the same until the end, there is almost no dynamic to be found. The guitar riffs are not only stale, they are misleading too. Every guitar riff on this album has the meaning to be evil, but just can’t get evil. Very often, there are dissonant tones that don’t need to be there. Very often there is a lack of a scale while such a scale is needed to make a nice sounding riff.
Shagrath Also performed a rather annoying vocal habit on this album. In the old days his screams were speechless. Those days were full of passionate screams and emotional growls. Over the years, Shagrath developed a nasty vocal habit. It’s very raspy and very monotone, just not interesting to listen to. It’s also quite sad that the keyboards took a step back on this record. Without the melodic keyboard lines, Dimmu Borgir has lost a great appeal. In many songs, the keyboard saved the song of getting rubbish. Now, the keyboard is no more able to save certain songs.
There are certainly some good things to be found on this album. Most important, the drumming. Nicholas Barker has proven himself to be one of metal’s greatest drummers alive. His speed is incredible, his technique very fine, but on top of all, he is very versatile. He makes great use of his whole drum kit. Secondly, we have ICS Vortex, Dimmu’s bassist and second vocalist. His clean singing is much more stable than Shagrath’s rasp. It’s sad that unlike Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropy he only sings on two tracks. His bass playing is nowhere to be heard on this album, making him rather a useless person in the band, which shouldn’t be.
Of all those same sounding songs found on this album, there are a few songs that can be set apart of sounding similar. First and foremost, there is Blood Hunger Doctrine, a song focusing more on guitar leads and piano work than anything else. It’s great, but sadly Shagrath brought up a annoying vocal effect, making the middle parts almost unlistenable. We also have Vredesbyrd, along with Blood Hunger Doctrine the only song that focuses more on lead guitars than anything else. Sadly, just like Blood Hunger Doctrine the middle section is not as appealing as the intro and outro.
There are of course some more enjoyable moments, such as the killer drum roll in the beginning of For The World To Dictate Our Death, or the epic opening orchestra of Eradication Instincts Defined. The parts where ICS Vortex sings are also satisfying. Sadly, that’s about it. Dimmu Borgir focused way too much on the orchestra and on sounding evil, forgetting that those two things are not the main features of making a good song.
- Blood Hunger Doctrine
- Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse
- The drumming is done impressively good.
- ICS Vortex has an incredible voice
- When the guitars or keyboard do a lead riff, it’s sounds very good
- Shagrath’s voice
- Guitar riffs with the only use of sounding “evil”
- Overuse of the orchestra
- Lack of keyboards (and to a lesser extent, the bass)
- ICS Vortex’s voice is only used twice on this album
This review was originially written at www.sputnikmusic.com under the name TheHamburgerman