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For my first review on metal-archives.com (I've done a lot of jumping around sites doing reviews here and there, but this site has caught my attention recently), I thought I'd review the often-maligned Dimmu Borgir. This is a band many place in exactly the same space as their also often-maligned peers Cradle of Filth. I personally enjoy both bands (usually preferring Dimmu), but I can see very clearly why they receive a lot of hate, and for the majority of their releases wouldn't get myself into any real fuss if someone was to call them shit, cheesy plop. However, I feel that I may make an exception with this, Dimmu's best album (so very easily claiming the title)...Death Cult Armaggedon.
Dimmu Borgir has long been a band with a hell of a lot of unrealized potential. After the second coming of Dimmu Borgir, which began with decidedly average Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, I've felt that Dimmu have always just missed out on making that awesome, ultimate album that fully expresses the good things about their sound. Since Enthrone the cheesy synths have always brought the songs down, making them sound a lot less dramatic and evil, and, well, crappier than they deserved to be. I felt that Spiritual Black Dimensions had good songs, but was really choked to death by the completely overbearing synths, that made the sound become a real sonic mish-mash. The production of Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia was extremely clean and clear, but unnecessarily mechanical, lacking any sense of organic timbre, thanks in no small part to the monstrously electronic drums.
Finally, with Death Cult Armageddon, we have a Dimmu Borgir album that has nice sounding classical instruments instead of Casio synths, organic sounding production in which the drums aren't too dominant and perfectly compliment the other elements, and guitars that blend into the overall texture without becoming a drowned out mess. Everything has finally found its place in the sound. Far removed from the stark, weak crappiness of Enthrone, through to the ungodly mechanical sound of Puritanical, Dimmu has finally overcome the production problem.
Then we have the songs. The orchestra is perfectly implemented into 11 tracks of yummy metal goodness, with great riffs and grooves popping up all over the place. The drumming is just amazing too. The album opens with a weird crackling sound, and after a little bit of subdued guitar and feedback effects we jump into the action. Allegiance has an incredible sense of momentum and energy, with Shagrath sounding as powerful as ever. The lyrics concern war and destruction, and are simply cool: 'How it was like to kill? So cold and necromantic'. Mwhaha. The orchestra ain't too lazy, jumping along excellently with the band.
Progenies of the Great Apocalypse is an epic-hollywood-disaster-film score written as a metal song. The orchestra shines here, with bombastic flourishes and some great clean vocals from Simen Haetnes (sp?) (who is tragically underused on the album, one of my main complaints). It is like Wagner metal, truly epic and enjoyable.
Other highlights include the truly pummelling songs Vredesbyrd and Allhelgens Dod I Hellvends Rik, both with Norwegian lyrics. The drums are absolutely crushing and massive, and still not overbearing, and the riffs are consuming, driving, and exceptional. Cataclysm Children gets my vote as easily the most crushing Dimmu song ever written, with the band absolutely churning forward...take note of those awesome keys, the groove the band gets into near the three minute-mark, and that cool, climactic harmonized solo. Eradication Instincts Defined gives the orchestra a two minute intro on its own, highlighting the great musicianship on offer here and providing a menacing, and epic atmosphere.
That's about enough about the songs, here is the bottom line: Dimmu Borgir have never sounded so good. As far as I'm concerned they have had an album like this in them for a long while, but have just missed out. The sad thing, to me, is that people are gonna not like this just because it has the name 'Dimmu Borgir' on the cover. Even if you hate Dimmu's past efforts (I would fully understand if you do), I urge you to give this one a chance...you might be pleasantly surprised. Although the songs occasionally feel like they blend together stylistically (especially in the case of lesser, blander songs like For The World To Dictate Our Death or Heavenly Peverse, which are hardly very interesting in context of the rest of the songs), this does give the album a great cohesiveness and consistancy (as opposed to a monotonous, repetitive feel...the awesome songwriting and arrangement keeps it away from this). Highly recommended, symphonic 'black metal' (using the term cautiously), that through it's quality spits in the eye of all the Dimmu naysayers. If this band is so gay and shitty, how did they make an album of this quality? Something to think about, hopefully.
Bottom line: Dimmu Borgir's best album, and it is a scorcher.