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As I stated in my review of Stormblast, Dimmu Borgir changes their sound with Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. From this album they stop sounding like true black metal and become more heavy. Of course, this kills the feeling of sorrow and darkness, but the atmosphere is still there - it's just has a different package. And most of the songs off this album range from enjoyable to masterpieces, as we shall see.
The album opens with Mourning Palace, whose string intro was written by Stian Aarstad. But just as you find yourself enjoying this little piece, the guitars burst in, this time with a heaviness which you wouldn't expect from a band like Dimmu Borgir if you've heard their previous 2 releases first. This song is a fan favorite and found its way through all of this band's live setlists. And on its own right! The guitar riffs are catchy, the keyboard sounds variate from strings and choirs to clever pianos, the drumming is sure to make your head bang faster than a paint mixer and the vocals are fantastic as always (this time Shagrath is performing the vocals with the band's new bassist, Nagash, as backing vocalist). Spellbound (By the Devil) begins with a creepy choir intro which becomes more melodic when the rest of the instruments kick in. Shagrath and Nagash do some terrifying screams in this song, all while the songs progresses. The keyboard offers us some good atmosphere with the church organ in the middle and the bell riff at the ending. And to make it more awesome, they added a guitar solo to follow the bell riff. Pretty clever, I must say.
In Death's Embrace is one of my top favorite Dimmu songs, as it features everything that made me love old Dimmu in this fresh high quality recording. It has a fast-paced piano intro, with almost thrash-like guitars and drums. Then Shagrath and Nagash do some amazing shrieking, and afterwards a slower piano follows. The guitars are pretty distorted in this song, but this makes them more enjoyable. In the middle of the song we have an orchestral string riff which is soon followed by the rest of the instruments and the vocals. Then the slow piano part repeats once more, having the vocals follow, and afterwards the real exciting part of the song comes. A beautiful piano riff is played, all while followed by the vocals, which sing: "Heavenly father is stretching his hand, pathetically begging for mercy/ We spit and piss on his sacred flesh, as we breathe the brerath of the unholy" And to add more to the epicness, they included another guitar solo to follow this beautiful piano. Once the solo finishes, all the instruments stop for a few seconds, only to have the cymbals announcing us that the madness has not ended. Then they repeat the first riffs of the song with Shagrath and Nagash concluding the epic battle between heaven and hell with hell's victory and the proclamation: "We are forever captured by the embrace of Death!". This is truly one of the best songs off the album, and should have been played more in my opinion!
Relinquishment of Spirit and Flesh is one of the lesser songs of the album. It has some choir riffs here and there, some shrieking from Shagrath and Nagash, and of course heavy guitar riffing. Sadly, since this song doesn't have much catchiness, I can't comment much on it. The Night Masquerade begins with tremolo picked guitars and synthesized choirs trying to create a nightly atmosphere, thing at which they succeed perfectly. Silenoz even stated in interviews that this song was supposed to be on Stormblast, but it never reached that album. A pity, in my opinion, but it's still awesome. Its ending features female vocals asking a 'beast' to bring them to a realm of lust, sex and sodomy, and Shagrath replying with demonic growls "Blood is life, and it shall be ours!". Pretty creepy, in my opinion. Tormentor of Christian Souls is a true mix of melody and brutality. Starting with a haunting choir, continuing with a brutal guitar, then with even more choirs, this song is sure to make you headbang or scream loud along with the blasphemic lyrics. There is even an awesome fast-paced piano near the end of the song. Good way to add more melody, I must say.
Entrance is where the album continues the melodic part which started with its first 3 songs. This song begins with a choir intro and then the rest of it consists of really catchy bell melodies. The tempo is rather slow, compared to the other songs. But everything fits in very well, and if it were not for the blast beats, this song might have been a black metal ballad. However, another track off this album is the ballad, and an amazing one, as you'll see when we reach it. Master of Disharmony is a re-recording off the band's Devil's Path EP, this time without the ambient intro and with much more heaviness added. The song begins with Shagrath's and Nagash's screams, heaviness, speed and chaos all over, and then continuing with Shagrath reciting his prayer to the Master of Disharmony, and we all know who that is. The only notable things off this song might be the choirs, some of Shagrath's vocals and of course the guitar solo. But that's all I can say about this song. Prudence's Fall begins pretty much like In Death's Embrace, with fast-paced pianos. This song is melodic like hell, the pianos being as catchy as in the 3rd track. Another interesting thing might be the fact that the lyrics make this song the title track of the album. They speak about Lucifer's fall from heaven and add to it some spiritual mysticism and a little elegant satanic flair. And quite opposed to the intro, the ending is pretty slow-paced, the piano adding more emotion and atmosphere than ever.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the ballad of the album and one of the best Dimmu songs of all time. I bring you... A Succubus in Rapture! This song by far is one of the most different Dimmu songs of all time, and I will show you why. First of all, the lyrics are not satanic, like the rest of the album was. They speak about a man being entranced by the spell of a succubus and consequently making love to her until he dies. The pianos are atmospheric and romantic the same time, adding even more elegance than on Prudence's Fall. The drumming is pretty slow, but this fits the song's atmosphere. The guitars at first do not seem as an important element, but near the middle of the song they show what they're capable of, coming up with a beautiful melodic riff. After that, they stop and leave room for the piano, drums, bass and rather clean vocals of Shagrath to prove to us that they're still alive. Then the song repeats some riffs and at 3:46 is where utter perfection begins. A slow piano plays a romantic song and is then joined by the guitars which play an even deeper and romantic riff. And this was just the prelude for the real awesomeness: the guitar solo! No words can describe its beauty and awesomeness, it's something that is sure to get stuck in your head after you hear it. And once the 1 minute guitar solo ends, the song slowly fades away as the guitars repeat the riff from the middle and Shagrath attempts one last shriek, saying: "Her diabolical beauty enchants your bewildered mind!" And he was right, if this song was the Succubus, I was completely enchanted and I would never ever want to leave her trance. Congratulations, Dimmu Borgir, you've written another masterpiece and probably my second or third favorite Dimmu song, after Stormblast. Good job!
And last, but certainly not least, is the re-recording of Raabjorn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde. Honestly, I prefer the original because it was more raw and atmospheric, but this song is also priceless because of the pianos that Aarstad added on the intro and in the middle. The rest sounds like the original with high quality.
So this is my review of Dimmu's Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. It may not have been true black metal, but it was a ride that I'll never forget. It has the catchiness of old Dimmu mixed with some mainstream metal elements, and over all, is a truly enjoyable release.
Favorite tracks: Mourning Palace, Spellbound (By the Devil), In Death's Embrace, Entrance, A Succubus in Rapture
This is regarded as a transitional period for Dimmu Borgir, not only in the sense that this is where a lot of the band’s success started to take hold, but also because the character of their sound became a bit more subdued. Right in neighboring Sweden there was a booming melodic death metal scene taking hold and making inroads even in the alternative rock dominated USA, spearheaded by the consonant musical underpinnings of Dark Tranquillity and In Flames in spite of the harsh vocal work, and also the emergence of a faster and more riff happy, power metal-like alternative via Finland’s Children Of Bodom. Whether or not Dimmu was aware of all these bands when they began constructing the songs for this album, the end result is something that blends both of those approaches to melodic extreme metal with this band’s already established symphonic sound as pioneered by Emperor.
In two respects there was a huge leap away from the character that kept “For All Tid” and “Stormblast” within the same essential paradigm that defined Norwegian black metal. The first and most obvious is the radical change in the production, which has left the distant, raw sounding aura of coldness and despair for a much more polished and tight arrangement that has every dimension clearly defined. A good analogy would be the radical contrast between the nebulous imagery of impressionist art where figures seem to fade in and out of each other, versus the clear cut and defined dimensions of a Renaissance or Romantic era painting. I’ve personally come to see both approaches to production as having their own charms, but I tend to prefer the older approach to black metal albums as it has a very unique character, separating it not only from modern practices but also from all other styles both before and after it. The other and not quite as obvious change is the beginning of a stricter approach to song structure that is a bit closer to the one that Immortal had adopted at around this time as well. But while said black metal pioneers poised their music a little closer to a melodic variant on death/thrash, Dimmu seems to be a bit closer to a keyboard heavy yet not as strictly defined variant on Swedish melodeath.
This is not to suggest that this is in the same style as Dark Tranquillity, but more that the lines between black metal and that style have been blurred a bit here, mostly by putting a greater emphasis on hook driven riffs. Certain songs such as “Mourning Place” and “Entrance” take on a tiny bit of a catchy power metal character with keyboard ambiences that are strikingly similar to what would be heard out of the likes of Kalmah and Skyfire just a few years later. “In Death’s Embrace” all but completely embraces that epic style of galloping power chords and bombastic keyboards that would be exploited by Kalmah and contrasts it with a series of somber piano lines that have a gothic, almost Nightwish character to them. There is a general sense of blackness that is maintained in the guitar presentation, but these three particular songs definitely seem to be flirting with something very different with where this band started out. Even Shagrath’s vocal delivery seeks to be a bit more subdued and intelligible during these songs, though they don’t come quite to the point of being obvious in their enunciations and are still fairly garbled.
The band doesn’t forget their roots completely here, and do offer up a few really nice slices of Emperor oriented, ice blasting majesty. “Relinquishment Of Spirit And Flesh” has sort of a weird keyboard intro that almost sounds like it was borrowed from Darkthrone’s “Soulside Journey”, but afterward it’s a beautiful barrage of blurring blasts and rapid guitar riffs trading blows with mysterious sounding buildup sections with coldness bleeding from every note. “Tormentor Of Christian Souls” has a similar mix of nebulous speed and darkened atmospheres, but with a little bit more of a Thrash character at most junctures. “Master Of Disharmony” and “Prudence’s Fall” are also excellent examples of the band translating a slightly simpler version of “In The Nightside Eclipse” into the medium of a clearer, crisper production character that will be a bit easier for non-2nd wave fans to grasp.
It’s difficult to truly nail this album down into one particular category, as it seems to be a perfectly blended half-breed of old and new practices, but it could be argued that this had a level of influence upon some of the later, more animated and power/thrash oriented melodic death bands that came a bit later after the Gothenburg scene came into prominence. It’s basically a solid release, though some of the songs seem to run together a bit, and is definitely something that would be worth checking out unless your deeply entrenched within the traditional raw style that first typified this music.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on May 13, 2009.
Dimmu Borgir have been at the forefront of the Norwegian black metal scene for quite some time. Their popularity has exploded since they signed to Nuclear Blast, toured the United States on Ozzfest, and produced big budget albums like Death Cult Armageddon. This newfound popularity has had mixed results from fans and critics alike. Some have accused them of selling out while others see them bringing black metal to the mainstream as a good thing, but enough about that, for today we’re looking at Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, arguably the band’s greatest work.
Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, whether you like the album or not, has been considered Dimmu’s breakthrough album and one of the most highly regarded symphonic black metal albums for many reasons. This was Dimmu Borgir’s first album for Nuclear Blast and was the first album to feature English vocals (their two previous albums were sung only in Norwegian). The album also gathered a good amount of controversy around the time of its release regarding its highly anti-Christian themes and lyrics (more on that later). As a whole, Enthrone Darkness Triumphant sees Dimmu Borgir reaching a level of majesty and cohesiveness that they have never been able to touch even ten years later.
Enthrone Darkness Triumphant was recorded at Abyss Studios and features the sterile and big production of Hypocrisy main man and studio owner Peter Tagtrgen. The guitars are as clear as glass and pack quite a punch. The drums sound appropriately triggered and the ominous keyboards sound rich and dark.
Dimmu kick of Enthrone with their very popular song “Mourning Palace”. This mid paced tune features a very dark, brooding synth section under Shagrath’s possessed screams. Shagrath’s vocal style is different here than on successive releases but his genuinely spirited performance has never been matched. As opposed to the average sounding croaks featured on later releases, Shagrath is howling like a spawn of Lucifer would. His demonic screaming is still unsettling to me at times and is a highlight of the album. The song is very strong and provides an accurate representation of the material at hand. The last minute and a half of “Mourning Palace” is simply breathtaking. The melodic tremolo picked guitars are backed by fast double bass and a majestic and intricate synth part. The song ends with the same melodic riff, but this time is joined by Shagrath and the now blasting drums.
The next song “Spellbound (By the Devil)” is another standout track. Like the previous track, “Spellbound” starts off with the brooding synth section. The track in all its evil glory marches along for the first minute until a brief shift in tempo occurs, which contains another album highlight. Shagrath comes in, spewing the lyrics “By the Devil!” in such an agonizing way that he has never topped since. The blasting drums come in, augmenting Shagrath’s intense scream. The track continues along in its evil marching pace until the bridge. The entire band drops outs, leaving the keyboards to create a delicate yet sorrowful melody. The rest of the band comes in, with complimentary guitar melodies backed by driving double bass before fading away.
We then come to Dimmu Borgir’s most infamous track “Tormentor of Christian Souls”. While being another excellent track from a musical standpoint, the lyrics of this song in particular have been a source of controversy for the band. Nuclear Blast refused to (and still does to my knowledge) print the lyrics to this song because of its very anti-Christian and sadistic nature, not that it does much since Shagrath’s pronunciation is very clear and most don’t need a lyric sheet to understand the lyrics. Musically, this is the most aggressive track on Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. The song kicks off with a lengthy blasting intro (by Dimmu standards) that is augmented by the keyboards. After the intro the band continues along at a thrash pace as Shagrath spews his evil liturgy. The band slows down in the middle and lets the keyboards create a sinister atmosphere. Shagrath enters again with some more depraved lyrics before returning to blasting speeds.
The rest of the songs are equally excellent and powerful, with each having a unique strength and character to it. There is a good mix of the faster, more aggressive tracks with the brooding, slow, atmospheric tracks. There are no filler or even average tracks to be found here, just metal of the highest quality.
With Enthrone Darkness Triumphant Dimmu Borgir have cemented themselves among symphonic black metal’s elite. The album as a whole contains the strongest collection of songs on any Dimmu records, including many of their live staples and fan favorites. The symphonic element found here may not feature full orchestras and choirs like later releases, but is able to attain the same majestic effect through rich and powerful keyboard lines. Shagrath gives his best performance on this record also, sounding genuinely evil rather than his more typical performances on recent releases. The songwriting is very strong, and while for the most part I like all of their albums, Enthrone Darkness Triumphant is the only Dimmu Borgir album that I can listen to all the way through. The band seemed to have a real fire to make an outstanding album all across the board that is lacking on later releases, where I really like a few songs but find the rest to be average and uninspired. I’m fine with that, because Enthrone Darkness Triumphant is unparalleled in the symphonic black metal genre, with an exception being Emperor. You should give this album a spin if you’re into well composed and executed symphonic metal, because you will find few albums in the genre of equal or better quality.
The final album featuring the vintage Dimmu Borgir lineup; Enthrone Darkness Triumphant boasts melodic black metal in near-perfect form. All of the trademark characteristics of the band's early sound is present: A mid-paced tempo, modestly technical guitarwork, a strong, atmospheric keyboard presence, and powerful vocals. Perhaps the most momentous deviation from their preceding release "Stormblåst" is the departure from the classical piano sections that defined said album. Stian Aarstad's more reserved contribution here lays the groundwork for the dense atmosphere present on classics such as "Spellbound" and "Mourning Palace". The rhythm-centric guitar playing of the Silenoz/Shagrath tandem rarely deviates enough to stand out, yet helps add another layer to the driving, slower tempo that remains constant on this album. The solos, however, are incredibly apt. Tjodalv's unique playing style continues to improve, laying down a concrete backbone to the sound. Shagrath's vocals are freakishly good here; easily one of his best outings. His present decline to a vocoder-dependent croak sickens me to the core.
The production is remarkably good for its time, significantly more polished than anything the band had released up to this point. Nagash is, however, robbed of any of the spotlight. The bass is buried in the mix, stereotypical of far too many metal releases. Enthrone Darkness Triumphant's strongest cluster of tracks resides at the beginning; the first three tracks are the best of the bunch. Things slow down afterward yet maintain a very high standard; all of the tracks are incredibly solid, albeit similar. "Entrance" breaks up the monotony a bit, and "Raabjørn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde" is in one word: Majestic. If there was one point I would have to nitpick it would be the comical "evil" voices utilized on "The Night Masquerade". Not quite sure what the band was thinking of then. Regardless, fans of the band and melodic black metal as a whole will find plenty to feast on here. At the very least, its importance in the grand scope of the black metal scene has to be respected, as the commercilization of the genre owes a lot to Enthrone Darkness Triumphant.
Oh how the mighty have fallen...
Not all that long ago, Dimmu Borgir were one of the most respected bands to come out of Norway, put on the same level as bands such as Emperor. Enthrone Darkness Triumphant was really the beginning of the end for Dimmu Borgir; it was the last chapter for them, or the final rites if you will, before they started to go downhill. It is therefore appropriate that this album is their finest moment.
Sure, Dimmu's golden days are irretrievably behind them and now they are hated much in the same way Cradle of Filth are. This was probably one of my first symphonic black metal album's I received when I was just 16 and it played a big part in getting me into black metal as a whole. Dimmu Borgir were (and still are) gifted musicians who can play their instruments quite well, the problem is, they now play music not for black metal fans as they were here, but for angsty faggoths.
The album uses quite nice synths which aren't cheesy unlike what would happen in later cases. Usually the synths will be used twice, then guitars will come in and synths will continue in unison. Like most good symphonic metal bands around, the band is able to combine the synths and the metal parts together well, that is, no part is more dominate than the other.
I think a shout needs to go out to the keyboardist, Stian, although he does look kinda funny he's an excellent keyboardist and in my opinion, his departure from the band is partly to blame for Dimmu going down the drain. He is far better than any keyboardist Dimmu has ever had, listening to songs such as In Death's Embrace will attest to this. Some of the keyboards on this album are very difficult to play, yet he plays them masterfully well and the result is simply stunning.
The riffs on this album are basically written around the synths of the album, which drive the album. Seeing as how the synths are quite good, the riffs are also good because its pretty much impossible to write a band riff based on a good synth. On a completely unrelated note, the drumming is nothing special but it still gets the job done.
The ultimate failing of this album is that is has a low replayability factor. You'll most likely love this album straight away and so you'll keep on playing it, however around about the tenth listen, this album will start to wear thin and it will cease to dazzle you like it used to. This is what happened with me, so I buried it amongst my metal collection. However, if you haven't listened to this in a while spin it, the time apart, may do you some good!
Conclusion: The above is recommended for download or purchase.
Dimmu Borgir started getting major commercial attention with the release of this album. Of course, that’s normal for most of us but horrible to elitists. Sacred cow of commercial black metal my ass…they make it melodic and it’s damn good. I personally feel it’s more interesting to have more variation with black metal: some raw old school, some normal and some symphonic. All are good and it would be far more boring if there would be nothing but the raw variety.
This album sees a major change in the band’s sound. First of all the production’s improved tremendously from their first to efforts although it’s still kind of far from the incredibly polished sound of their newer albums starting from Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia up to In Sorte Diaboli.
This album is drenched in keyboards and they’re extremely well-done. To be honest I prefer Stian’s keyboard melodies to Mustis’ although both are very good. This can be heard from the first seconds of the opener, Mourning Palace. This track has one of the most amazing and epic intro’s I’ve heard. You’d think they started with a real orchestra here and not just on Puritanical.
The rest of the album continues in this very symphonic and epic manner. On first listen the rest of the songs probably won’t seem as good as Mourning Palace and will kind of blend together (well they did for me) but after a few listens each track’s uniqueness will stand out very well. The album has a very grandiose feeling to it, and this feeling is further enhanced by what is possibly Dimmu’s best cover art along with For All Tid.
Each band member does quite a good job here, although apart from the keyboards nothing stands out too much. It’s a nice overall mix which makes for a very consistent album. Shagrath’s vocals are good, purer and colder than what he does today although not the best in black metal and both Nagash and Silenoz provide some nice backing vocals too. It’s the last album with them providing backing vocals as Simen Hestnæs (ICS Vortex) joined the band for the making of Spiritual Black Dimensions and did the backing vocals, although they’re clean in his case. Bass is well done, Nagash does a good job here but I believe ICS Vortex to be superior to him on the albums he does bass (after Spiritual Black Dimensions). Silenoz and Astennu’s riffs help create much of the album’s atmosphere as they meld very well with Stian’s keyboard work. Finally on the instrumental side we have Tjodalv on the drums and I must say he has some nice patterns, doing some double bass and blast beats sporadically here helps put the finishing touch to a well-rounded album. While all this is well done it’s not as technical as their newer work, especially on Death Cult Armageddon and Puritanical.
Lyrically nothing really stands out although it’s much better than what’s on the coming albums. It’s the standard stuff about damnation, death, darkness and whores. What an imagination these guys have. Still, it doesn’t affect the music badly. It actually suits it.
This album has one slight flaw though. The last 35 seconds of The Night Masquerade are exceedingly annoying. They have some truly shitty female vocals and some gay "demonic growl" done by computer during the last 5 seconds.
So this is kind of simple…this is an excellent symphonic black metal album, you’ll love it if you accept to listen to it a few times and don’t some phobia towards keyboards. It’s one of Dimmu’s best albums, probably only weaker than the 1996 Stormblåst, it’s very consistent, it’s very enjoyable and it should be in your possession. Highly recommended.
Arh, Dimmu Borgir, probably the Black Metal community’s most universally hated band. There's simply no room for debate on the issue, they are commercial whores and make horrible music. Well this album goes to prove that is not the case, and they are able to craft some excellent symphonic melodic black metal.
Well how do they sound then? Very symphonic is basically the premise. Although keyboards are not as prominent as bands like ‘Children of Bodom’, they are heard very clearly and carry forward a backing melody with heavily distorted ‘fuzzy’ guitars still taking the lead in most cases. The production is crystal clear, and in the case of Dimmu this for the best allowing the listener to clearly differentiate each part of the song. The drums employ fair use of blast beats and double bass, but are no where near as technically impressive as the likes of say ‘Behemoth’. Shagrath’s voice boarders on Death Metal growls, and while he is good he doesn’t quite match up to some fellow BM vocalists.
Well then, with all this what make the band special? Why, believe it or the atmosphere, the keyboards sound like a huge church organ and give a very eerie feeling to Dimmu’s sound. The keyboard melodies are splendidly written, all real classics, and as soon as you hear the opening track ‘Mourning Palace’ first few seconds, you’ll know what I mean. The guitar work is intricately spun into and out of these keyboard melodies, the lead between them often changing one falling back to support the other and vice versa. The band employs dual guitar riffs, with a simpler and often inaudible bass line to accompany these. Melodic and accessible sounds fill the tracks, which makes this style of black metal far more friendly to those wanting a access point into the genre.
The tracks range from aggressive (Relinquishment Of Spirit And Flesh) to more mid tempo works (Mourning Palace) and the songs often shift up and down in terms of pace mid track such as ‘In Deaths Embrace’, which features a wonderful build up which explodes into an epic drumming fest and then comes back down again to a slower pace mid rift. The drums are used expertly to act as a rhythm driver for the songs and give them their pacing and speed. Guitar solo’s are also showed of on several songs, and while not that technically impressive are nice. Dimmu are also able to be a good judge on when riffs are getting tired and plodding, often shifting into a brand new one just as soon as the current one starts to take it’s toll.
Unlike some of Dimmu’s other albums this one is also incredibly consistent. There’s no filler here, and while some of the songs are better than others the album manages to keep a high level of quality as well as consistent sound, in which songs are defiantly able to differentiate from one another, but the whole sound of the album is incept within each song.
Overall if you’re looking for accessible, melodic and symphonic Black esq Metal, then Dimmu is one of the best bands around. Good production and wonderful song writing combined with a healthy use of keyboards and atmosphere help to set this album apart from the rest and define it as a classic in its own right. Stand out tracks ‘Mourning Palace’, ‘Spellbound’, ‘In Deaths Embrace’, ‘Master of Disharmony’ and ‘A Succubus in Rapture’.
The first two Dimmu Borgir albums saw the band undertake a primitive but atmospheric niche in metal that received much criticism from the metal community worldwide for not being.... well, as metal as they should be, I suppose. Though Stormblast was a significant step up, it was still a plodding, melodramatic piece of work that had neo-classical influence written all over its underproduced facade. So, upon the band's signing to Nuclear Blast, it was clear that things would change. And they did, for the better. Enthrone Darkness Triumphant sees Dimmu Borgir producing a fully focused, aggressive, and heavy album while maintaining the symphonic flirtations that made them infamous. Not only that, but it also saw the arrival of the band's boisterous new sound, and Shagrath taking over the vocalist spot.
Unlike previous outings, there isn't a hint of hum-drum plodding where riffs are played for the sake of continuing the song. All of the songwriting tendencies have progressed into forward-thinking compositions that maintain the atmospheric, dramatic flair that made Stormblast a stepping stone for the band. The majority of the songs are worlds heavier than what Dimmu ever acheived on their first two albums; galloping drum tempos and blast beats run amok here, exchanged with guitar runs that seem to take more influence from heavy metal than black metal. This works to the band's advantage, though, as its scope seems even more epic and towering than what they were aiming to acheive in the first place. With more interesting, varied, and progressive song structures, Dimmu broke themselves out of a self-created artistic dirge. The tight and highly evolved musicianship adds plenty of ear candy, and makes for Dimmu's most dynamic release. Rippers like "Relinquishment of Spirit and Flesh" are perfectly counterbalanced by slower, but equally powerful numbers like "Mourning Palace" and "Entrance," so nothing ever becomes repetitive.
Silenoz's guitar work has grown increasingly complex, but does not reach a point of virtuoso or wankery here. The heavy metal influence I spoke of comes through in spades on the galloping verses of "In Death's Embrace" and the otherworldly splendor of "Entrance," but there is still plenty of heaviness, and a dark, ominus nature that was missing, but is much welcomed. The blast-ridden "Tormenter of Christian Souls" and undeniable staple "Master of Disharmony" feature foreboding, ripping guitars that bring that he.lish feeling to life. The riffs here may very well be the most inspired and creative that Dimmu have written, from the harmonized solos in "A Succubus in Rapture" to the Maiden-esque ending of "Spellbound (By the Devil)." And unlike past releases, the guitars strike out on their own here, and power the songs forward with conviction. The aforementioned "Master of Disharmony" feature blazing tremolo riffs and a great solo, and the ending of the classic "Mourning Palace" features an amazing melodic riff that drives the rest of the song with passion.
Thank God that Shagrath took over the vocal spot, because Silenoz may have damn well ruined this release. Shagrath's vocals here are drastically different here than what he does now; they're not of the lifeless, raspy sort, soaked in studio effects. Rather, they're polished but still fierce and passionate screams. "The Night Masquerade" may very well one of the best tracks he's ever recorded as vocalist, and the slightly more accessible "Entrance" gives the man even more of a chance to show off his gutteral but piercing screams. There's some occasional layering here, which works to create a dense and monstrous feel, especially on the fierce ending of "Tormentor of Christian Souls." Unfortunately, he only went downhill from here, but this is one of his best performances with the band in the studio. There's enough polish in his voice to help keep with the drastic change in sound, but yet he maintains the feeling needed for the lyrics and songs.
Along with the rest of the band, Tjodalv has improved a lot as a drummer. Fast-paced double bass and blast beats are displayed on "Master of Disharmony" and other rippers, while room is left for the pure atmospheric power of "In Death's Embrace" and "Mourning Palace." There is also a progression in fills here, as well; the transitions in passages are consistently smoother, and the fills make the songs all the more interesting.
Once again, Stian proves to be the sweetheart of the band with his synth work. The sound here is still in the background, but adds such a huge, epic sound without coming off as forced or cheesy as before. The clean sound of the choirs that starts off "Spellbound" is nothing short of powerful, and the tumbling pianos on "Prudence's Fall" bring a true classical flair to the band's new ferocious sound. All of the key work creates such an ethereal, almost heavenly feel, but can just as easily switch gears on the pounding "Relinquishment of Spirit and Flesh." Before they went overboard with orchestras, Dimmu were genuinely able to create an atmosphere that didn't overpower the music; this album is a prime example.
The rich, thick aspects of Abyss studio have always been revered in metal, and it boosts Dimmu's sound incredibly. The sharp, focused drum sound let's Tjodalv's skills truly shine through, while the beefy guitar tone give everything a shot of clarity and heaviness that had long been missing in Dimmu's sound. The slightly reverbed keyboards only accentuate the atmosphere created, and the overall clean, polished production of this album proved to be Dimmu's best.
ETD is without a doubt Dimmu Borgir's landmark release; it showed new steps for them, and may damn well be their best album to date. Its consistency, atmosphere, and genuine passion and ambition that drives the music will definitely strike a chord with listeners.
So we come to Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, Dimmu’s third full length effort. This was the album that really marked a breakthrough in the band’s work, and with pretty good reason. The production is not only acceptable but is actually brilliant. You can actually here all the instruments properly for once. The band also changed their logo to something which is readable without moving at speed past the emblem in a vertical or (more hopefully) horizontal direction, began singing songs in English instead of the band’s native Norwegian and signed to Nuclear Blast. If you know anything aboot Black Metal fan boys you’ll know that the phrase “sell out album” can’t be too far away.
One of the problems it seems with Black Metal is that, to some, it is a masochistic genre, because as soon as a band who have been doing it for a while get their act together and make an album that is either a bit different from what they’ve been trying, not the stereotypical norm, or even with credible production it seems it gets saddled with the rubbish aboot selling out and going for the money. So it is the case with Satyricon and Emperor, it’s also Dimmu’s lot to be labelled such, in still a quite early stage of their evolution , with much of their more ‘suspicious’ popularist work ahead of them, if you like to think of it that way. The fact that some claim this was aimed at bringing in the cash etc. etc. just shows the sheer idiocy of this position. This, and even their later work is still only going to appeal to a minority. Sweet City Jesus! Get a sense of perspective and get your snobbish heads out of your asses!! Melody and palatability of sound production should not be mistaken with softening up for the sake of getting more money.
The songs are absolutely cracking, good use of keys throughout and a guitar tone that positively gleams compared to the previous release “Stormblast”. This is probably my favourite Dimmu release to date, and I recall that it was this album, much like somebody else on here has said, that prompted my expedition into Black Metal and other forms of extreme metal with greater freedom. This was, in short, the first album that I initially was scared of and then managed to get over that conception we all have when we’re younger that death/black metal vocals are something to shy away from or treat with alarm. There’s a dark beauty to this album and it’s one of Dimmu’s foremost minor masterpieces and contains many of their classic songs. Tracks like “Mourning Palace”, “Spell Bound”, “In Death’s Embrace” and “Succubus In Rapture” are songs you just have to hear. The last of these (“Succubus…”) is a gorgeous climax to the album, where the shining guitar solo almost seems to fall around you like steely rain. Following this is the revamped (thank heavens…or hell) version of “Raabjørn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde”, which is on as the secret unlisted track 11. Sweet buggery, did this song benefit from the rerecording. Far superior to the original, it is the perfect way to reflect on this album as a step up for Dimmu Borgir in both ability and song writing. It’s at a decent speed, the riffs are played so that they sound crunchier, and it actually sounds as devastatingly epic as it should do.
Aside from all the good things to say aboot this release is the fact that there are definitely things which aren’t great. Some tracks, such as “Relinquishment of Spirit and Flesh”, are out of place due to their lack of invention in comparison to some of the finer tracks. As well as this there are tracks towards the end which at times feel like their dragging their feet and could have been cut down, and I’m sure same riff is reused on the songs “Master of Disharmony” and “Prudence’s Fall”.
Cheesiness is also a fact at times, as is likely to happen if you have such a keyboard rich album. Particularly notables is the downright dumb demonic voice at the end of the “Night Masquerade”, which is nigh on laughable. But make no mistake, this is of no real consequence. Metal is by it’s nature a ridiculous genre anyway, that’s one of the things that makes it rule so much. Everything is written large and OTT. You can grow your hair long, get a stupidly big beard, claim other people’s tastes in music are “gay” whilst simultaneously listening to bands that dress in skin tight leather, metal studs and wear make up. Then you can throw the horns at the world and tell it to fuck off because you listen to metal. And after all this, is cheesiness anything to be preoccupied by in metal?
Dimmu Borgir are a band who set out, not work within boundaries but to bust through them and realise their potential, and this album continues their progression towards doing so. They’ve got more skill and ability than to just waste it by letting the narrow confines of one of the most ridiculously elitist sub-genres in metal dictate their principles to them. The defence of this album seems ludicrously unnecessary to me, yet people still spout the same arse-gravy over and over that reminds me of when I was 17 and hated anything that didn’t sound like Slayer. People claim that this is aimed at teenagers in their bed rooms and has no meaning. Yet there is nothing so pitifully teenaged and recluse-living-in-his-room-periodically-venturing-forth-to-ask-his-mum-for-more-Doritos-whilst-he’s-online-playing-RPGs-like as someone who sticks to this immature, arrogant unwritten check list of what makes something sell-outish or untr00 to black metal.
This is a absolutely great CD and was one of my favourite albums for ages. Melodic Black Metal, Symphonic Black Metal, Extreme Symphonic Metal, Extreme Symphonic Melodic Black Metal….
Whatever it is, it’s great metal!
Some would say "Enthrone Triumphant Darkness" is Dimmu Borgir's defining masterpiece, and that they "sold out" after this. I say it's the band taking a giant shit after getting too comfortable, creating an album that attempts to capture the feeling of "Stormblast" and "For All Tid", but ultimately only goes through the routine motions of creating a worthwhile symphonic black metal album. Old Dimmu Borgir was all about bombast. Among the folk interudes and lush keyboard lines, they could have been confused with power metal by the average metal fan until the black metal vocals kicked in. And yet, they also possessed talent, a sense of direction, and an honest artistic sentiment. While "Stormbast" seemed to transport the listener to Medieval Europe, "Enthrone..." is an abortion that forces you in some kind of gothic renaissance fair than sells Invader Zim Merchandise.
This album showcases Dimmu Borgir drenching generic speed metal in irrelevant, fluffy keyboards to chime casually in the background, and contrived chord progressions; cartoonish, slow-burning solos and palm-muted pseudo-thrash riffing. Shagrath is admittedly not too bad of a vocalist at this point, at least, but he's not too great either. Stormblast's "Antikrist" was his most passionate performance, now he atonally bellows stuff like "SICKENING SOULS!!! CRY OUT IN PAIN!!! BWOORGH!!!" Basically, Dimmu Borgir have mastered the art of bullshit. A song greets the listener with warm keyboards, meanders along clumsily in this fashion for several minutes, before a convoluted crescendo in vein of a second-rate Dissection kicks in. This catchy, cut & paste method of songwriting creates the illusion of depth, but leaves much to be desired upon repeated listens.
Overall, this album is to black metal, as Machine Head is to thrash metal: A turgid parody. Not only is there better black metal, there's better metal in general.
Before I heard this album, I wasn't really keen on the Black Metal genre, but I finally decided to swallow my pride, and pick out a Black Metal album, and this was the one, and the first listen I was hooked, seeing what I was missing out on the whole time I ignored the genre.
The production on this album is fantastic, everything is up front and heard, the guitars have a very cool sound to them also, very fitting for the band, the keyboards are in the right place, not overdone at all, Shagraths vocals are top form here, sometimes even sounding like a Death Metal vocalist, evil sounding, and the drumming is very nice, nice fills/grooves ect ect...
Before I had purchased the album, I had heard the song "Mourning Palace" somewhere before, and it's what made me by the album, opening with a slow symphony clip that works it's way into the song, works very well as the guitars follow it, and Shagraths evil/demonic voice comes in, and takes command, this song has a great atmosphere around it, and the riffs/symphonic sounds after the first verse is very cool, this song is a well done blend of melodic meets heavy, and the break has some very cool leads in it, now before I listened to the album after buying it, I was hoping it wasn't just one good song on it, and trust me, it wasn't, "Spellbound (By The Devil)" Is nothing short of amazing, stands right up there with the first track, opening with an evil sounding clip, and very cool riffs and symphony backround, this song has some very nice double bass work in it, Shagrath sounds very good on this one as well, love the keyboard break at about 1:12, and then the chorus finishes, this really does catch you off gaurd, you're not expecting it, love the riff that starts at about 1:52 also, very catchy, "In Death's Embrace" Is a very good song also, with some very nice keyboards surrounding it, they totally fit this song, it's not quite as heavy as Spellbound, but it gets the job done, love the chorus, not much else to say about it though.
"Relinquishment of Spirit and Flesh" Opens with yet another cool symphonic sound, and then, all of the sudden...BANG, Shagrath belts out a huge scream that scares you the first time, this song is pretty fast paced throughout, some very nice double bass is found here also, and the riffs are hypnotizing, especially the one at about 1:27 in, very catchy, the break is very heavy too, just like I said, melodic meets heavy, "The Night Masquerade" Is another favorite of mine, opening with some nice fast riffs, and a very nice backround sound, and Shagraths vocals are all over on this one, meaning growling, screaming, adds a nice touch, love the chorus riffs too, very fucking heavy, and then the females voice near the end is actually called "The Whore" and the growling at the very end is called "The Beast" very interesting, "Tormentor of Christian Souls" Does just what it says, this song destroys all in it's path, fast paced, moves right along, catchy riffs, nice keys, and of course Shagraths demonic scream, not much else to say about it though, just another killer song.
"Entrance" This song took a while to grow on me, but it will, and when it does, it's very good, this song is very keyboard driven, more than the rest of the songs, the keys play a big part in this one, they are very nicely done though, and in the right spots, they don't feel out of place, and the riffs just pull you in, this song is the slowest on the album, but it's very good once it grows on you, "Master of Disharmony" Wow, this song starts out fast as fuck, and is catchy too, Shagrath sings alot faster on this song than the others, nice growling parts also, sounds like Satan himself, not too many keys in this song, but it makes it different, and that's a good thing, "Prudence's Fall" Starts out with some more nice double bass work, and keys, this is just another very good song, but it's the same formula as the rest pretty much, nothing that really jumps out at you, it's just a very good song.
"A Succubus in Rapture" Opens with a very nice melodic keyboard, and the drums eventually fade in, and Shagraths vocals, this is more like a "Black Metal Ballad", but it's really good, really slow, and draws you in, the keyboards play a big part in this song as well, Shagrath even does some almost clean vocals here, adds a nice touch, overall, a very good closing song for a very good album.
If you're not big on Black Metal, but want to be, I would say get this one to start with, it worked on me, I never thought I'd like Black Metal, but once I heard this all the way through, it left me wanting more...now I love Black Metal, so give it a try.
Instead of the silky release and starry passion of Stormblaast, or the dramatic flourishes, epic chugging, and viking-themed lyrics of For All Tid, Dimmu Borgir abandon all pretenses of originality and thought in favor of filling up a traditional pop-metal band with cheesy heavy metal riffs and boring keyboard passages, which are now relegated to the background, and pointless blast-fests that add NOTHING to the music and only succeed in creating an unlistenable dichotomy that makes no sense but sounds "cool." Whereas speed works in bands like Marduk, Dark Funeral, and Mayhem, where they use mind blowingly fast, pulsating drums to create an asthaetic of doom, Dimmu Borgir use them to make the music sound "evil" and "hardcore", and only succeed in creating pointless passages that don't advance the music and stall the inevitable crash into the cliche' flourishes that have nothing to do with these speed-fests.
The first 3 songs are successful in blending the dichotomy of speed vs. melody by incorporating melody and actually linking the speedfests and limiting them to the crux of emotion. However, the delaying of the epitome of the songs is filled with heavy metal derivations of the main melody, sort of working its way into a parody of itself, like at the beginning of Spellbound. After that, the songs have clever sounding intros, but with absolutely nothing worthwhile in the middle. The songs become merely poorly written speed metal with black metal vocals. The overlaying pattern appears to be [blast blast blast blast double bass double bass][cliche' melody][blast blast blast...] etc... until the song ends with a clever sounding riff that has nothing to do with the rest of their songs. In an attempt to rob COF of their flaws, they introduce female vocals in the Night Masquerade, which don't fit in the song at all. Instead of trying to create an ambient soundscape that surrounds the listener with music and emotion, they try to get every single thing that they consider "evil" to sound evil enough to get the all important "mallcore" crowd. Instead of using the female vocals in the slow, tender portions (not even the slow, masculine portions) to enhance the music, they used them to sound "vampyric", or something like that, to shock somebody, and inevitably failed at shocking anybody.
The album picks itself up after falling into brambles with a slow interlude, Entrance. While this song is not in any way perfect, it is at least memorable and uses the keyboards in a way they should be used: To push the melody and act as a counterpoint to the guitars, instead of acting as a 3rd guitarist. However, this is a fleeting moment, as Dimmu Borgir's temptation to make poser/wannabe music overcomes them, and they turn the song into a cheese-fest, with failed attempts at being evil. The band tries to be evil without any knowledge of what evil is, and, as a result, sounds off base in this song, as it shows. However, this song is memorable as it follows through with the melody, instead of succumbing to the laziness and giving up on the melodies in favor of pointless speed fests. However, the disease of this CD comes back in full with more of cliche' speed fests. However, at least now they're in the name of melody, and remain more melodic, and at least make some attempt to make good songwriting.
The last two songs (notwithstanding the remake, which was pointless, and an obvious source of "inspiration" for many of the riffs in this album) were better, and were cohesively built, and the ending, A Succubus in Rapture, succeeded in creating a genuinely evil AND epic ending, as all album closers should. However, the goodness of Prudence's Fall and the greatness of A Succubus in Rapture couldn't save this album, and since the first 3 songs had potential, but were halfformed, this album suffered a lack of merit. However, of course it was going to succeed, since most people buy into what the band is pandered as, and what they think is evil, instead of what it actually means, because a passer-by cares naught what something means.
"Enthrone Darkness Triumphant" by Dimmu Borgir is a black metal classic, despite the fact that it is definitely not classic black metal. Although this album was obviously produced for alot less money than the band's future releases (such as "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" or "Death Cult Armageddon"), I personally believe that this is arguably the band's best album. This is most likely due to the fact that the lineup on this release is almost completely different than the lineup on their future releases, especially since on "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant" the keyboardist was Stian Aarsted, not Mustis.
The reason why I believe that this is one of Dimmu Borgir's strongest albums is because everything just seems to be in its right place on this album. Although the production quality is not amazing, every instrument seems to be mixed just right and nothing is drowned out by something else. Yes, the keyboards are pretty hokey, but since it's pretty tough to take Dimmu Borgir seriously, the silly keyboards just make the album more fun (I hate to admit it but I'm a sucker for cheesy synths, and usually anything cheesy in general).
The album opens with what I consider to be the album's best song- "The Mourning Palace." This song, as well as my other favorite, "The Night Masquerade," represent everything that is good about the album and exemplifies specifically what makes this album close to a masterpiece. The catchy melodies, the headbanging rhythms, the precise (and at times, pretty fast) drumming, and of course, the fruity keyboards.
Many people believe that this is where Dimmu Borgir "sold out" and started releasing crap; many people believe that this album is crap; but I say that this album truly is a good album if you give it a chance and enjoy it for what it is, instead of simply dismissing it because it doesn't stay "true to form."
After the poorly flavored and polished release Stormblåst, Dimmu Borgir were starting to fall down the symphonic black metal path in my eyes. It was more flower metal with semi-"harsh" vocals. When hope is lost, Enthrone Darkness Triumphant expands the dimmu borgir sound to higher peaks.
On Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, the Dimmu Borgir unit return to the gleaming sound of their debut album, For All Tid. With the symphonic and orchestrated elements not entirely overdosing the release (there are some moments though) the band has very well mixed their over all sound in the most pleasurable form from any Dimmu Borgir release i have heard.
The guitars are very black metal. Atmospheric themselves even without the synth/keyboards of their symphonic black metal sound. The occasional orchestrated elements add an entire new ingrediant to the Dimmu Borgir unit. Making it more full and strong. As i said: Not intrusive, it also combines with the music perfectly most of the time without filling the sound too far as such in Stormblåst.
The sound is slightly dirtier while keeping a more professional production within the release. Allowing the music to speak for itself under a bit stronger of a black metal production, and keeping the polish on it for good measure. I wouldn't say the production is like Burzum - Filosofem, or Darkthrone - Transilvanian Hunger, but one thing for sure it really helps achive the black metal sound at a very minumum.
The vocals echo through the mix as a dominate element into the overall sound. With the vocals returning to a harsh and grim snarl, Shagrath finally achived a decent sound. The vocals are much better done even compared to Devil's Path, and for all tid.
This release, Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, is one of the best Dimmu Borgir releases i have come across thus far. It's very well done combining for all tid and devil's path, leaving the hurling reactions i recieved from Stormblåst away as Dimmu Borgir have returned to their greatest presentation of overall sound!
Ah yes, this is where the whole Dimmu Whoregir campaign started. Signing with a major label like Nuclear Blast (headed by a christian guy, aaaaarrrghh!!!), recording the new album in Abyss Studios (polished and powerful sound, aaaaarrrghh!!!), stating the intention to become professional musicians (underground betrayal, aaaaarrrghh!!!) and, worst of all, enjoying higher selling quantities than most of their peers (SELLING OUT, AAAAARRRGHH!!!) all contributed to dragging Dimmu Borgir down to Cradle Of Filth's status of faggoth laughingstocks from the Black Metal "elitists".
Nevertheless, "Enthroned Darkness Triumphant" is a good record. Very good. It's no "In The Nightside Eclpse", nor "The Shadowthrone", but I still keep spinning this one a lot more often than I would do if it really was that jigsaw of rip-offs tailored to fit like a glove the tastes of teenie pseudo-metal fans (which is never).
From the opening of the by now well known "Mourning Palace", you can tell that Dimmu have considerably progressed since their earlier efforts (whether it was a good and bad progression I leave to the individual listener to decide); taking elements if the unique atmosphere which gave birth to the first two albums and adding the raw approach of the "Devil's Path" EP Dimmu create a powerful, dark and beautiful symphony of unsettling yet attractive moods, brought forth through clever variations and excellent musicianship, underlined by the incomparable "made in Abyss" sound and detailed arrangements (sure, there are a lot of keyboards, yet there's more guitar and drum work than a first listen may let appear). "Spellbound (by the Devil)" brings it on through a more direct approach, a wicked little epic full of riff and tempo shifts with little room for slower and more soothing passages. "In Death's Embrace" sees former keyboardist Stian Aarstad unleashing his magic fingers on a grand piano on the backbone of an unquestionably speed/thrash influenced opening riff; love it or hate it, the resulting effect is something I had personally never experienced before on a Black Metal record. The rest of the song carries on with switches between headbangable moments and slower, moodier breaks, keeping the overall quality to above average levels even though a little excess of repetitivity flaws the result at points.
These first three tracks are enough to explain the success of this album: the abundance of different influences, the well composed tunes, the professional production and the competence of the involved musicians make EDT highly enjoyable and fairly more accessible to less Black Metal oriented listeners than your average Gorgoroth assault. I'd take this as a different approach to the genre rather than blatant seeling out, but whatever.
"Relinquishment of Spirit and Flesh" doesn't stand up to par with the opening winning trilogy; despite some cool riffs and entertaining grooves it seems to lack a bit of personality and the blasting parts sound more like an exercise in noise than something coherent, kinda like "we can be brutal when we want to". "The Night Masquerade" brings the atmosphere back in the picture, although marred by repetitive riffs and horrible (and useless) female vocals in near the end, as well as some gurgling vocal distortions which seem to have been taken out of some fifth-rate horror movie and are the epitome of cheesiness.
"Tormentor of Christian Souls" features the most pathetic title of the album and some very well done speedy riffs; unlike "Relinquishment of Spirit and Flesh", this is where the aggressive factor really fits into the music, with an overall very groovy feeling that made the song become a live favourite.
Making an nice contrast, "Entrance" is for the most part built on a slow and almost doomy tempo, although the riffs are 100% "made in Dimmu" and fit the unearthly theme of the lyrics (one of the very few that don't suck on the abum) very well. Next comes "Master of Disharmony", a re-recorded anthem off "Devil's Path" given more drive through the better production, a pretty fast number with good ideas going on riff-wise.
"Prudence's Fall" has a lot of ideas thrown in the bunch, ranging from very good to barely standard, the result being quite a mixed bag although no mere filler. "A Succubus in Rapture" is much btìetter, with its haunting melodies and unpredictable rhythm shifts. Finally, a re-reocorded version of the first era Dimmu classic "Raabjørn Spelier Draugheimens Skodde" (actually it was meant to be just on the digpack version, but it appears as a non-listed track on the standard one too; in case your copy is missing, you can find this version on "Godless Savage Garden" anyway), made a bit faster and added more keyboards (which surprisingly fit in very well).
All in all EDT still stands as a very well done and enjoyable album. If you are not a diehard purist or whatever, you should really check it out, it's well worth it.
A lot of people consider this to be Dimmu Borgir's "sellout" album, where they dumbed down their sound to appeal to a mass audience. Well, if that was their intent, then they certainly bombed hard. If you want to make big money with your music, metal is not what you should play.
At any rate, though, they certainly did change their style since "Stormblast". Whereas that album concentrated on keyboard melodies, this one concentrates more on blastbeats and guitars. The keyboards are still there, but are relegated more to supporting roles, and adding that "gothic" feel that so many bands strive for for some unknown reason.
The album starts off pretty good, with "Mourning Palace", a midpaced song with a catchy main riff. This one will definitely be going through your head in math class a few times. After that is "Spellbound" and "In Death's Embrace", the two best songs on the album, and the two that are most reminiscent of earlier works, due to the keyboard parts. In any event, these two songs prove that Dimmu had at least some modicum of songwriting talent left in them at this point.
After those three songs, well, the whole thing just becomes dull, like one of those albums that you drift off while listening to, only to come to later and think "Track five!! That's all? I could of swore I've been listening to this thing for an hour." There's lots of blastbeats, so many that you get tired of hearing them pretty quickly, and by the end of the cd you're ready to pop in a Yanni CD just to not have to hear any more drumwork for a while. The fifth song, "The Night Masquerade", features some female vocals, which should have been left out. It also ends with this ridiculous voice that I guess is supposed to sound like satan or something.
Speaking of satan, that's pretty much what all the lyrics are about; hating Christians and loving satan. They're the kind of cookie cutter "shocking" blaspheming lyrics that fail to be shocking at all. It's really not that much of a problem, though, as no one listens to Dimmu for the lyrics anyway (and if you do, you probably think they are the coolest lyrics ever).
So, in the end, this cd is just blah, albeit with a few standouts at the beginning. It's pretty good as an introduction to metal, with it's catchiness, but after a while it loses it's appeal and just becomes another cd that you don't really listen to anymore.
Many people will tell you that this is the first album in Dimmu Borgir's transformation into...well, what they are today. And they are right, though that does not at all make for a bad album.
First off, if you are expecting something like Stormblåst, you might as well turn away now, as there is not even a resemblance between that sound and this. That album (their best, in my opinion) was symphonic/melodic while maintaining a traditional sense of harshness associated with black metal, while this album is purely melodic, so much to the point that it's hard to even call it "black".
Which brings me to my next point--if you are looking for something extremely melodic with just a hint of black influence, then this is definitely for you. Shagrath's vocals are more "well-rounded" and smooth, making for a sound very similar to melodic death vocals (In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, etc.). The guitars are much more rhythmic/melodic, making the songs flow to the point of "catchiness". In the past, keyboards/synth was used mainly to create atmosphere...here, it's used as a main, driving instrument.
Anyway, the songs are good. While they do all have the qualities mentioned above, there is a lot of variation throughout the album to keep things fresh. The combined styles (black vocals + more traditional, melodic stlyes of metal), while pulling Dimmu Borgir away from their symphonic black roots, add a nice flavor to the album. This album may have been the catalyst in bringing the band to (in many people's eyes) an undesirable point, but it's a good album nonetheless.
Highlights: The Mourning Palace, Entrance, Raabjørn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde (reissue only)