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For me, this album is quite strange from a certain point of view - while I've heard all the other ones, some I rarely listen, others from time to time, but DCA has recaptured my attention after six years, even though it feels artificial, tiresome, long and too "modern". But then again, it's still black metal at core, with eclectic elements for diversion and, perhaps surprisingly, atmosphere. And before anybody bashes me as "blasphemer", "poser" or whatever the retarded human mind can come up with, let me present you the reasons regarding my statement.
In the music business, a band must sell its products to survive, if music it's a life priority - nothing wrong here. A competent musician must always prove to himself that he is capable to adapt to the evolution or involution of the music scene, without losing its identity - again, totally normal. Of course, a musician or a band distancing himself/itself for the pop "culture" and incorporating elements to produce something unconventional, yet ambitious and captivating, is a subject to talk about at home. This is the case for Dimmu Borgir's "Death Cult" and it is a paradox that it is both successful and criticized, mainly because of its eclectic black metal nature.
Using a full blown orchestra this time, the band incorporated a Wagnerian theme to the songwriting process and, in sharp contrast, half-thrash riffing but, as stated above, it retained the black metal core. The first two elements represent the most extreme pair, of course, a noticeable fact in the tracks where one of them tends to dominate the music, while the other is more a natural reaction than anything - just check out "Eradication Instincts Defined" or "Vredesbyrd": the orchestra is playing most of the lead melodies and the interesting parts, leaving the traditional metal instrumentation to thrash around or to groove along. I've found it very interesting and a necessary approach, because there is not a single moment of conflict between the instruments and the music flows very well. If one would like to hear guitars over orchestras or vice versa, he/she should check Anorexia Nervosa's "Drudenhaus" or "New Obscurantis Order", where this formula succeeded almost flawlessly. The reason why in Dimmu would not have worked is because of the more relaxed vision of the musicians, more inclined to whatever the scene could offer, so that the final product could reach its full potential.
The afore-mentioned "Vredesbyrd" has also a power/speed metal vibe in the beginning and at the end, while in the middle, a martial industrial metal one - see the spoken voices which remind me of Triarii, but without the NS bullshit. "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse" is like a short metal "Gotterdammerung", full of half-thrash riffs, uninteresting alone, but cool as an addition; also, the dark ambient middle, with the spoken verses add a great deal of atmosphere. "Unorthodox Manifesto" is the martial industrial metal track of the album, with even a death metal influence on the fast parts. "Cataclysm Children" is mostly a thrash metal one, with some piano and guitar melodies at the end, reminding me of "Spellbound", although not that forward in approach. I think that these are enough examples to prove my point.
Before anything else, something must be said about the black metal part of the record - it's still there! Besides "Eradication", "Progenies" and "Blood Hunger Doctrine", you can find typical black metal chords or tremolo's, but the approach is still in black metal style - it's about the feeling, not the shock value, the atmosphere and not the moshing, head banging or the speedy shit; I mean, it's still an intense record, full of surprises, extremes and hate-spilled messages about humanity, deities and good. I believe it has almost a mystical thing inside it, with the classic satanic message as backbone: "Stay true to yourself!", and I see it when all the non-black metal elements kick in, but I still hear the blast beats, vocal shrieking, razor sharp guitars and sinister and cold riffing. It just takes time to fully understand it.
What really take away from the natural beauty of this album are the production and the vocals. The first one makes everything too artificial and strange sounding but, thankfully, the final product is not as loud as PEM was! The vocals are so drowned in effects that it resembles a mockery than anything else. C'mon Shagrath, I know you were all experimenting and shit, but for fuck's sake, you have two lungs, a throat and brains - just fucking use them! Just look at Attila Csihar, because that man/beast/whatever (he is like 10 feet tall!!!) is really inspirational vocal-wise! I think that even that the chick from Tymah could have sung on this album better, even if she's a bit one-dimensional.
An aspect I've seen criticized by other reviewers was the lyrical department and the "shock value" of it. Well, of course it's shocking for the entire world to hear a popular band sing/scream about Satan, eradication of the human specie et cetera, et cetera... The same was for Slayer, when Araya screamed about Auschwitz, serial killers, rapists and war. But c'mon guys, I don't believe that a band can be shocking when you read the lyrics it composed, but when it plays live, with its visual themes and such! You know, singing about Jesus or Satan doesn't make you a believer anyway... And of course, singing about rapes and murders doesn't make you a practitioner… hopefully...
In the end, I think I've summed everything concerning the album: a clearly satanic, blackened offering, with plenty experimental moments, that some may find enjoyable, others, causes for rabies. For me, this effort was honest, ambitious and eclectic in nature, as I usually like my black metal served. Too much of the same kind is wrong and unhealthy, you know. So, I recommend this album for listening and hope you like it. If you don't, who the fuck cares?