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Even though this well known, sold and discussed record gets bashed on a regular basis by the so called fans, this record is the Dimmu Borgir's summit to me and perfectly defines what the band is all about.
Dimmu Borgir did pretty much everything right in here they did wrong on other records. It's a consequent evolution from the last records and a peak compared to the certain regression that would follow afterwards until now. Death Cult Armageddon is an album with a healthy length of over sixty minutes which gives the instrumental parts the time to evolve and get quite atmospheric. The album sounds lighter and more precise than the overwhelming orchestral “wankery” on Abrahadabra, it sounds more consistent and creative than In Sorte Diaboli and more equilibrated than the early works that focussed too much on vocals, rapid instrumental heaviness or useless dominating blast beats. The Norwegians find just the right mixture between their atmospheric black metal roots and their later orchestral experiments and developed an epic horror metal atmosphere that is only topped by the masters of this genre which are The Vision Bleak.
Especially the epic tracks give some time to breathe and deliver profound atmospheric passages. The last three tracks of the album which are the atmospheric "Eradication Instincts Defined" with its numerous classic and symphonic influences, the dark and gripping military war epos "Unorthodox Manifesto" and the bleak "Heavenly Perverse" that uses great sound samples and even some acoustic guitars are pure perfection from that point of view. The band is clearly influenced by epic film soundtracks in the key of composers such as James Newton Howard, John Williams, Howard Shore and Hans Zimmer that can easily be considered as the contemporary big four of this genre.
The great thing is that Dimmu Borgir can also put a quite intense atmosphere in their shorter tracks this time. The first output and well known"Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse" perfectly defines the brave new direction of this album and is probably the best single or video release the band has ever done to date. One should also cite the heavier and pretty much diversified "For The World To Dictate Our Death" with its atmospheric sound samples of different historical speeches as well as "Allehelgens Død I Helveds Rike" that should also please to the whining fans of the band's early years and that mixes harder parts with harsh vocals and upbeat passages with relaxing parts including clean vocals and some piano works. In fact, every single song of the album offers a healthy degree of epic structures, diversity and bleak atmosphere. The songs are not conceptually connected in a progressive way and may sound slightly alike to some people but those are the only possible weak points I could find and where there is a thin line between excellence and pure perfection.
Until now, this record is the band's climax but I'm pretty confident that the band can even top this effort with a little bit more focus, organisation and time. This record is a bleak horror metal symphony. It may offend black metal hardliners but please to any fan of atmospheric gothic and symphonic metal styles. The band has not entirely the class of The Vision Bleak, Therion or Moonspell but they get pretty much close and anybody that likes those band should put his prejudices aside and check this record out. Dimmu Borgir are not satanic, commercial or overambitious, they just sound equilibrated on this record and do what they needed to do and created something that just sounds like them. Now climb the band's creative summit and be prepared for a great dark ride.