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Dimmu Borgir pioneered the symphonic black metal genre in the late 90s, obtaining much success thanks to the highly praised “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”. But, well, it seems that too much success has fucked up their minds. So, after “Enthrone”, they decided to choose a pompous path, where overloaded symphonic parts suppress the actual metal component. So, the unfocused and inconsistent “Spiritual Black Dimensions” came out in 1999, and, though it still received a positive response from “black metal kiddies”, somebody noticed that something wasn’t working. It’s probably for this reason that Dimmu Borgir decided to make a more “complex” album, trying to experiment with modern influences and even with industrial elements. And so, in 2001, “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” came out.
This is when many people began to bash Dimmu Borgir, mostly because “they were no more a tr00 black metal band”. Well, forget all these reasons. Experimentation is a good thing. The problem is that “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” isn’t real experimentation: it’s just a pretentious album that tries to sound “complex” adding a big quantity of ideas in each song, but the final mix sounds forced, kinda unfocused and pointless.
Well, at least, they stopped working with Peter Tägtgren (who made an awful engineering work on “Spiritual Black Dimensions”), but the new production sounds too fucking plastic, in the vein of most modern pseudo-extreme metal albums. But never mind the production: music is the real problem here. Well, this album is actually better than “Spiritual Black Dimensions” and it’s loaded with many cool ideas in almost each track, sign that the band worked harder this time; the problem is that, for each single good part, you find a big bunch of mediocre and unnecessary ideas surrounding it. The worst thing is that, often, the bad parts are even repeated cyclically more than once, making the songs overlong and even more boring. The main formula of most of these tracks is “electronic sounds - riffs/breakdowns - atmospheric slow parts - repeat again”, maybe just mixed in different orders, and with some occasional crappy Vortex’s choir. “Kings of the Carnival Creation” (a very fitting title for Dimmu Borgir, huh?) is the epitome of this annoying formula.
The symphonic/orchestral parts, as usual, detract too much from the guitars; even if they’re slightly more consistent and less “dominant” than on “Spiritual Black Dimensions”, they’re still too fucking pompous and overloaded (often even asphyxiating) and they can’t work well in the context. There are many boring slow and “atmospheric” parts that sound totally inconsistent and irritating to hear, even ruining some potentially good songs like “The Maelstrom Mephisto”. Well, there are still some good symphonic ideas on “Hybrid Stigmata - The Apostasy”. Also “IndoctriNation”, after a pretty insipid start, begins to build some interesting slow parts where guitars and orchestrations blend well, creating a “pathos” atmosphere... but then, Dimmu Borgir says: “We’re getting too good! Let’s fuck it up!” and so, prepare to one of the scariest nightmares of the whole album: while the song is going on pretty well, a short orchestral interlude comes in, ruining everything. This is not the beautiful interlude of “In Death’s Embrace”, this is just SHIT! It doesn’t stick well with the song and sounds frighteningly annoying to hear! Then, luckily, some of the most powerful and kickass riffs of the album come in, but, after a while, this shit repeats again, this time even more insistent than before. Thank you, Dimmu Borgir. Now I need to change my pants.
Want more? Well. On this album, Dimmu introduce some of the worst “trademark elements” of their modern sound: redundant and pointless chugga-chugga riffing (chugs and breakdowns can be funny if well placed, but here they’re just abused and boring as hell, especially on the already mentioned “Hybrid Stigmata - The Apostasy” and “Kings of the Carnival Creation”) and the typical “march-formula” that will become so typical on most of Dimmu Borgir’s next albums: a “solemn” mid-paced rhythm enforced by hyper-triggered double-bass and loaded with inconsistent riffs; at this purpose, try to listen to “Architecture of a Genocidal Nature”, preferably tweaking yourself if you wanna avoid to fall asleep. And, talking about triggered drums, you know what? On this album, drums are played by... Nicholas Barker. The legendary Cradle of Filth drummer, a fucking “king of blast-beat” who contributed to make masterpieces like “The Principle of Evil Made Flesh”, “Vempire”, “Dusk... and Her Embrace” and “Cruelty and the Beast”, decided to choose the “ca$h-path” before Cradle actually did, playing with an already fucked up band and even triggering his double bass in order to sound more “br00tal”. Wow, man, great choice. While you were fucking around with your cool Dimmu pals, Cradle were making other two masterpieces (“Midian” and “Damnation and a Day”); then, they began to sell out too, producing that awful abomination called “Thornography” (worse than most stuff ever produced by Dimmu Borgir), but that’s another story.
Now... let’s talk about the industrial parts. Well, they sound like if Dimmu Borgir was embarrassingly trying to emulate Pain, Fear Factory or stuff like that, but without enough charm. Try to listen to the random electronic interlude on “Blessings upon the Throne of Tyranny”: it sucks hard. “Hybrid Stigmata - The Apostasy” features some cool experimentations, but that’s the only interesting industrial stuff you can find on this album. And, since I was describing the industrial elements, I’ll take the opportunity to talk about what’s absolutely the worst song of the album: “Puritania”. Oh God. If I had to choose only one song to represent the absolute nadir of this band, this track would be the choice without doubt. A nightmarish bunch of breakdowns and chugs with some random symphonic/techno effects and dumb filtered vocals. Where the fuck are we? On a Dimmu Borgir album, or on the Sybreed debut? This is candidate to be the worst song ever made by this band, and makes the rest of this album sounding like an absolute avant-garde masterpiece.
Being honest... on this album, formally, you still find a lot of black metal. There are many tremolo riffs which are pretty typical of the genre, accompanied by bestial blast-beats (Nicholas Barker still dominates, motherfuckers!), but the melodies sound mostly uninspired and barely “evil”. It’s very sad to hear a riff like that of “Blessing upon the Throne of Tyranny”, blasted at maximum speed but still quite inconsistent and unexpressive. However, there are still a lot of cool riffs to find: “Architecture of a Genocidal Nature”, before getting awfully boring as I said, starts out with some funny thrash riffs that will make you bang your head, and also on “The Maelstrom Mephisto” and “Hybrid Stigmata - The Apostasy” you will find some excellent riffs. Even at the end of “Kings of the Carnival Creation”, after a lot of boring shit, a monstrous tremolo riff awaits you.
So, I suppose you’re asking yourself: “Can I find on this album a song that can be listened in its entirety without bad parts that ruin everything?”. I answer: yes. It’s incredible, but there is an entirely savable song, that I have kept apart just to make you “taste” it better at the end of the review: “Absolute Sole Right” features the best riffs of the whole album, going from brutal and “ignorant” thrash metal assaults to elegant and graceful black metal melodies. But the most incredible thing is that, this time, even those so hated “slow/atmospheric parts” fucking own. I really like this song.
So, what could I say? “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” shows a lot of potential and has several good moments, but some elements keep it away from sufficiency. This isn’t exactly a bad album, it’s just unfocused and mostly boring. Let’s explain to Dimmu Borgir that, if they worked harder on the few savable parts instead of adding billions of inconsistent ideas to make the songs longer and “more complex”, they would have made a solid symphonic black metal album. Obviously, after this album, the band understood that industrial influences don’t fit well in their sound, so they moved away from that genre. If you wanna hear some really great industrial black metal, rather than this half-failed album, check out Aborym, Blacklodge, or the inventors of the genre, MysticuM.
P.S. However, the cover art is great. In fact, unlike this album, boobs are always a good deal.
The one thing someone will observe first, when comparing this album with its predecessor is the almost total line-up change. Shagrath again took over the keys, along singing, Vortex, the bass (instead of Nagash), Barker, the drums (replacing Tjodalv), and Galder assumed the place of lead guitarist, left vacant after the dismissal of Astenuu and the resignation of Archon, soon afterwards. The sound change was more in the vein of EDT, with increased emphasis on the speed and aggression, in the detriment of harmony and to a lesser extent, of the melodic department.
This album is more of a transition album than SBD was, because the latter was clearly created to be a more symphonic version of Astenuu’s side project album Mirror Hate Painting from Carpe Tenebrum. Now, death/thrash influences are more prevalent, like Tormentor of Christian Souls and Relinquishment of Spirit and Flesh were four years prior. I believe this is the reason why many fans like the 1997 and 2001 efforts almost equally. The only notable difference between the two of them is the increased sophistication in the compositional department, most obvious in the lyrical one. Gone are the “Hail, Satan! Fuck Jesus!” lines, and the band chose to attack organized religions, instead of just Christianity, like most of the black metal bands.
Instrumentally speaking, I have to say something about the guitarists. Like in no other album, there contributed like five guitarists: Shagrath, Silenoz, Galder, Archon, and Astenuu. The latter is not credited, while Galder and Archon had minimal input. Actually, Galder’s Kreator like melodies are very memorable, like on the second track, adding flavor to the song. While I’m not a big fan of him in this band, recently I’ve been more defending of him, because he mostly develops the riffs, and not creating them.
The real weak link is Silenoz, who will fuck up the albums more and more. The reason is his trademark – chugging (hear the “catchy”/lazy Puritania), as opposed to the death metal tremolos and fast palm muting of Galder and the more basic, even black ’n roll power chords and tremolos of Shagrath. You can almost tell the differences when hearing Sympozium, with a rock ’n roll riff towards the climax (Shagrath), Kings of the Carnival Creation (all Shagrath, including the solo), and the trio of thrashers Indoctrination-Architecture of a Genocidal Nature-Absolute Sole Right (Silenoz). It may be that the tenure in Nocturnal Breed influenced Silenoz’s style of composing.
The keyboards are a Shagrath-Mustis split, with the former creating a Devil Doll like high pitched bells sound trademark (see Kings…, Architecture…, Absolute…, Indoctrination), while the latter occupied himself with the piano (Blessings…). They also handled the orchestrations, with Mustis taking care of the intro, and Shagrath, with the outro. Both are very good and actually different; Fear and Wonder is more classical, while Perfection or Vanity is symphonic metal.
The drums are handled with fury and technical flair, but at the end of the day, like another guy said before me, you get the feeling that it’s more of the same stuff served over and over again. Sure, the blasting is great, even if the production is very loud (I think the producer is the same one as in many famous power metal bands, like Manower and Hammerfall), but the fills are getting old quick. The one time they are really incredible, is on the bonus re-recording of Devil’s Path, right before the jaw dropping solo of Andy LaRocque, when Barker hits the tomes like an arachnophobic man trying to kill as many spiders as possible.
Now, the vocals… Vortex plays his lines very well, even though I hate when he doubles or triples them. Hearing him live, I can understand, because he doesn’t warm up his voice enough and fucks up pretty often (or he is not fully sober, I can’t tell). Shagrath, on the other hand, is struggling, and since SBD, he manages to use techniques that he can not reproduce live. One is the robot voice, replaced in concerts with low-register speaking (or “preaching”, whatever). The other is screaming, which is nowadays like the solar eclipse – it might wow you when it comes, when… And finally, is the high-pitched snarl, another almost disappeared trait. It’s actually sad that he did not leave the position for someone fresher or just more careful with his voice, because his star has fallen by the end of the 1999 tour.
Anyway, if you like good death/thrash in a blackened fashion, with hints of symphony and old-school metal, you will dig this. Everything is well thought through, and the musicians are at almost full potential. If you are a black metal elitist, this is not close minded enough for you, so fuck off!
Within the realm of extreme metal, I like to think of bands such as Dimmu Borgir, In Flames and Lamb of God and such are gateways to those being exposed to heavy music. Dimmu Borgir's Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia album could merely be titled "My First Black Metal Record" and would nearly be entirely appropriate. This album, I believe is one of the best and finest releases you can give to someone when introducing them to extreme metal. While Dimmu Borgir's tainted past lies beneath the tr00 black metal oddities, their newer "omg dey sold out!1" sound is what the band is ultimately known for. Simply attaching the word "symphonic" at the beginning of a black metal band's genre will shift away an entire fanbase while drawing in an entirely new one. Here we see, this group's very heyday expanding upon their evergrown qualities all starting (or in some cases, ending) with this hour-long opus.
Like most Dimmu records, this one of course opens up with a symphonic opening including either violins, pianos, or both. The appropriately placed best song on the record is no further than track 2. "Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny" is a roaring tapestry of blast beat drumming, synthesizers, ranging guitars and shrieked vocals. The thing that gets me the most after just hearing this song is the fact that the production puts the guitars up front at crunchy reverbs while drums sound like they're smacking hurricanes and all in all in the end, just sounds like every instrument is beating the shit out of each other to get to the top. Other tracks as well such as "IndoctriNation" and "Kings of the Carnival Creation" have some production inconsistencies such as drums being too quiet during some parts, and synthesizer being too loud. The double bass kicks are usually always behind the rhythm guitar, while the snare is even louder than the lead guitar at most times. The bass guitar lies beneath all the tornado of sound, usually never heard once.
One of my favorite things on this entire record in particular though is definitely the drumming. It nearly saves this record amongst any other late Dimmu Borgir album and I remember even looking through the personnel credits within Nicholas Barker's discography on some days just to find some more DImmu Borgir albums he has played on or other bands he's played with in general. The drumming is almost the best highlight of this album. Every blast beat Barker does is fantastic, it's just a shame consistent blast beats were only a featured characteristic on this album only within Dimmu Borgir's library. Amongst other qualities that the record contains such as guitar solos, keyboards and of course, vocals. I would have to make my remarks on the vocals first. While a majority of Shagrath's performance is raspy roars, he occasionally has a lower-tone rasp, not exactly a growl but think a preaching man in a tall black coat with a deep voice speaking, that's the best way I can describe it. Other than that end of vocals, the clean vocals on this album, while not near as abundant, they're pretty cheesy and do almost nothing for the music.
Simen "Vortex" Hestnæs, the band's bass player was apparently the head of the all the clean vox of this record, and he sounds iffy at best in fitting along with the music alone. Finally, synthesizers are an odd one here, they alternate in all sorts with the music, creating a differed atmosphere with each scheme or theme to the music. Unlike many bands, the synthesizers here are a big, big hard element to the music. "Hybrid Stigmata - The Apostasy", I think is where it gets truly odd. The synthesizer in mid-song actually breakout into a danceable rhythm that I think could even be compared to the likes of "Stick Stickly" by Attack Attack!. Yes it really was that ridiculous to my ears, and in the same song even lead on into an emotional, quiet piano piece. Other songs such as "Architecture of Genocidal Nature" and "Puritania" also contain an industrial metal sound bearing along the likes of Marilyn Manson. The band had their own keyboardist on this album, but Shagrath as well evidently had a hand in the synth effects here and there, thus proving how assertively important and dominate they are to the music on this record.
The album is indeed very inconsistent, but that, I believe is what keeps it fresh. Sometimes it even feels like Carach Angren's storylike and highly adventuristic musical style because of it. But as far as Dimmu Borgir, I have to hand it to them for being one of the leading and most influential bands ever seen within the symphonic black metal genre. Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia is far from perfect, but it is most definitely a great record for those that are just at their very beginnings into listening to extreme metal. Despite its long time and constant need for chaotic variances, it can arguably be considered a classic.
Maybe yes, a little mechanical sounding drum kicks here, but still what grabs me are the guitar riffs. I always felt that this Dimmu album was their best. I may need to hear more of their discography to further calculate an opinion, but for the moment, this is my favorite one. I like the atmosphere it bestows. It's intense and heavy plus dark, depressing, uncompromising. The guitar is to me the best feature that the album retains its forte in. Aside from the mechanical drum kicks, the rest of the music is full of darkness and despair. It's WAY better than Dimmu's latest, I mean 10-fold better.
The blast beating wrenches the eardrums and the guitar has tremolo picking frenzies varying in tempos, bar chords that are heavy plus thick, lead playing that's fairly decent, synthesizers to create a demonic sense of idealism for typical black metal mixed in with melodic riffs. That, in respect, is my favorite aspect of the album, definitely not how again the drums played out. They would've received a higher rating from me if the album didn't have that kicking or futuristic sort of sound. But for the moment, "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" is still my favorite release.
Variety in the vocal department, yes, a mixture of screaming mainly overshadows the low burly tonality that is exhibited in certain parts of the songs. I would venture to say that I enjoyed all of the tracks on this release. I'll definitely have to hear more from the band, but really, their new one, just a waste. They need a comeback release and that one I was to be sure to rid myself of it. A great cast of musicians here with Galder on lead, which to me really isn't his forte. But the solos came out moderately good. I would say it's best that they had NO leads on this album yet that is my feeling anyway.
It doesn't seem like many people appreciate this band's symphonic black metal outputs. "Stormblast" had the highest accumulation of positive marks, my wonder would be: "why is that?" On here, you experience quality riffs that are heavy, original, creative and downright brutal. No letup here, just in certain parts, overall musical frenzy of heaviness and darkness is apparent here. I don't think that the album was appreciated by most listeners because of such poor ratings. They really had balls here and it was apparent after I heard this many times over.
If you're looking for something that's totally dark and dismal, depressing, atmospheric, original, heavy plus uncompromising, "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" is where its at. Definitely top not recording with riffs that will blow your hair back. Again, Barker's drum kicks were kind of annoying, but still the music was the highlight. Not everyone is to agree with this, I just felt it was the best constructed by the band out of their entire discography. I'd like (once again) to hear more of their discography, yet I feel that I heard the best from this one and this one only.
Most of the time when writing reviews, I like to listen to the album I’m reviewing in the background but with this one I don’t think that will be necessary. This album pretty much consumed my early teenage years and leads me to greater, much blacker things. Dimmu Borgir needs no introduction due to the hatred they receive by black metal enthusiasts (sometimes known as elitists) that I think is not as deserving as they will tell you. Dimmu Borgir put together a symphonic/black album that has people in an uproar. I think it kicks ass but that’s just me. I wish I could explain why this album left such an impression on me but it did and I’m glad it did.
As soon as the album starts, you know what you’re in for. A nice intro before the madness begins. It’s sort of like walking into hell and not knowing what to expect. Then “Blessings upon the Throne of Tyranny” begins. The riff in the beginning probably will get stuck in your head for hours as it is an extremely awesome riff. The song is long and will (or should) keep you engrossed the whole time. It’s fast and melodic and just amazing. “Kings of the Carnival Creation” is another insane creation from the once black metal minds of Dimmu Borgir. This album really isn’t even black metal at all. The vocals, at times, remind me of the old Dimmu days when Satan was at the forefront but this new less Satan look isn’t too bad, in fact it’s awesome. “Indoctrination” has some of the heaviest moments in the entire Dimmu catalog. “Puritania” is a very heavy song and is weird at times but always seems to leave an impression on me. “Architecture of a Genocidal Nature” has some of that blackened Dimmu flare and one of the coolest, most evil parts in a song ever.
The production is perfect, maybe too perfect. Maybe a little too much overproducing is what gave this album such a hard time finding its place in the black metal community. Everything sounds perfect. The drums are the highlight of the album, how they are played and they way they sound. The guitars are heavy as fuck. The bass is too quite but has a few moments. Shagrath’s vocals are in perfect from as usual but maybe using a bit too much of voice distortion at times.
This album is good, try not to listen to the people who will tell you they sold out and all that shit. Yes, they did move on from pure black metal but that doesn’t mean they’re pure shit. Just give this album a chance.
Best tracks – “Kings of the Carnival Creation”, “Architecture of a Genocidal Nature”, and “Indoctrination”
So with this album Dimmu Borgir had entered the new milennium, and from the first two tracks we will notice a departure from their previous style. But no matter how catchy and quite fantastic a large part of the songs on tthis album are, I cannot get rid of the feeling that they are trying to copy Cradle of Filth at some points (Architecture of a Genocidal Nature, The Malestorm Mephisto, Sympozium). Why, Dimmu? Why would you try to copy these guys when you have already created your own atmospheric style with your first 2 releases and then expanded it with Enthrone Darkness Triumphant and Spiritual Black Dimensions? But leaving this aside, let's get to the actual album.
The album begins with Fear and Wonder, a clever symphonic intro, courtesy of Mustis, which sets the mood perfectly for the entire album. Kind of like Det Nye Riket did with For All Tid. The intro is epic, almost like a movie soundtrack (for some reason I think of The Godfather), and is sure to bring shivers down your spine as the second track comes in your speakers. Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny is a fast and brutal song, kind of like Behind the Curtains of the Night - Phantasmagoria from their previous release, but the thing that makes this song at least enjoyable are the guitars at the beginning and the mood that was set by the previous track.
Next comes my favorite track off this album, Kings of the Carnival Creation. This masterpiece has everything it needs to be a perfect Dimmu song, almost like The Insight and the Catharsis. This song begins with an atmospheric keyboard from Mustis and then the guitars and drums begin the chaos. The song mixes speed with melody greatly. Galder shows us his talent on the guitar on more than one occasion on this song. Sadly, since Shagrath lost his fellow backing vocalist Nagash, it becomes more noticeable that his voice is beginning to deteriorate. Although he does try to hide this by adding robotic effects on it, as you'll see later. Moving on to this song, you'll find more epic guitar playing from Galder, some more keyboards from Mustis, fast drumming from Nick Barker and some attempted shrieks from Shagrath. Luckily, at 4:03 the song's real epicness begins. Mustis plays a fast and beautiful symphonic riff and then Vortex bumps in and sings like a God! His singing on this song might be his best of all time, I dare say. Just closing my eyes while listening him sing brings me to a Roman arena in which he sits on a throne with a golden cup filled with blood in his left hand, and he moves his right hand and orders the armies of Gladiators inside the arena to battle each other to death. But once his beautiful singing finishes, Galder continues his melody with a totally bad-ass guitar solo which totally fits the battle I mentioned before. Once the solo ends, the band repeats some riffs from the first half of the song until they reach a small break. In that break you can hear Mustis playing an organ melody as Shagrath says: "Left are the Kings of the Carnival Creation to carry out the echoes of the fallen". The song turns faster once more and Shagrath does his final screams, and then the song ends. Once again I find myself in the position to congratulate Dimmu for creating a masterpiece, sadly this might be the last time.
Continuing the audition of Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, next comes Hybrid Stigmata - the Apostasy. This song features some more awesome symphonic riffs of Mustis, then the heavy part comes in and Shagrath shrieks alot. This song is catchy as hell, almost as amazing as Kings... The best part would be the one from the middle where Mustis plays some beautiful orchestral parts and Vortex joins in for a few seconds with his fantastic singing. Sadly, the epic part of the album is about to end. Architecture of a Genocidal Nature seemed to me more of an epic failed attempt at symphonic metal. It turned out being nothing more than a speed fest with some pianos here and there which seemed like a rip off from Cradle of Filth's Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids. Luckily, the title track, Puritania, saves the day. It's a mixture of extreme metal and industrial metal, all with the welcomed orchestra. This is the track where Shagrath uses... oh sorry, I meant abuses the robot vocals effect. Although I think that they're fitting perfectly for a song themed with the eradication of the planet Earth. Over all, this is an enjoyable track if you manage to forget the fact that Dimmu were supposed to be a melodic black metal band.
But once again, Dimmu thought that the cheese fest wouldn't be enough, so the next track, IndoctriNation, adds some more fast drumming with some random symphonic stuff here and there, and Shagrath's attempted, but failed shrieks. The following track, Malestorm Mephisto, is pretty cool, although it could have been better. I love Vortex's part in this one and the song's intro, but the rest is pretty mediocre in my opinion. Once again, we're brought to a cheese fest with Absolute Sole Right. This song is speed... and just that. I can hardly find any melody or catchiness in it.
Sympozium begins with an epic symphonic intro which once again reminds me of some kind of soundtrack. Still, it's a proof that Mustis is either a smart plagiator of unknown soundtrackx OR a genius of this century. Honestly, I hope it's the second. The non-symphonic keyboards add yet another Cradle of Filth feeling, to which Shagrath's whispers and other types of vocals contribute even more. Luckily, Mustis makes a return in the middle of the song with his orchestral strings, and Vortex joins him in creating another musical feast for the ear. The rest of the song is just keyboard catchiness and Shagrath trying and failing at shrieking, but at least pulling out some kind of growls. And thus we have reached the final track of this album: Perfection or Vanity! This instrumental reminds me a bit of Glittertind due to the usage of all instruments, not just keyboard, although this one doesn't contain shrieks. The orchestra manages to create an epic feeling for the end of this ride on the Dimmu coaster. The drums' slow tempo only contribute more to the feeling that this ride is almost over, and after 3 minutes the track fades away.
Now this Dimmu album was great in its own way. The band had changed a lot with it, it was a new style, a new beginning. This album had some awesome masterpieces on it, but sadly, the lesser songs had ruined it with their Cradle of Filth wanna be efforts. But hey, it's still better than what will follow...
Favorite tracks: Kings of the Carnival Creation, Hybrid Stigmata, Sympozium, Perfection or Vanity.
Dimmu Borgir seems to be taking Cradle of Filth’s route of diluted and forgettable releases of late, with every new album released being worse than the one before it. “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia”, however, was the highlight of Dimmu Borgir’s career, a last vestige of talent before the onslaught of formulaic mediocrity. Consequently, this album is also the reason I was so disappointed with every subsequent DB album.
The instruments on “Puritanical…” are phenomenal. Every element is at its peak, with exemplary sections in all the songs. There is an urgent energy on the album, and yet Dimmu seems to pull it off with ease, coming into their stride and not overdoing anything. Nothing feels overpowering, clearly Dimmu Borgir was already established at this stage, not having to try too hard, it all came naturally. They seem to have an air of superiority here, a confidence in their abilities.
The fretwork on this album is excellent. Every song has memorable riffs and innovative composition, immensely powerful in every note. The guitars “gallop” with pulverising distortion and palm-muted power-chords. There is also enough variety present to make this an enthralling album, with many tremolo sections and fast interludes. The bass, not to be outdone, keeps up with all of this, and has a smooth finger-picked sound devoid of distortion. This compliments the forceful guitars well and keeps everything grounded.
Nick Barker is certainly a metal legend today, and this is for a good reason. “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” features some of the best metal drumming I've heard in a long time. The speed of his blasts and double-bass never ceases to amaze. Every great guitar riff is punctuated with an insane blast or double-time on this album, to the extent that one is constantly aware of the drums, being almost foremost along with the other instruments.
Shagrath needs no introduction as his vocals have become very recognisable in Dimmu Borgir’s new era. His midrange screams are very powerful and aggressive, a DB trademark. One irritation, however, is the effects added to the vocals at times. The strange reverb sound doesn’t add to atmosphere at all, and simply sounds electronic. It’s a pity Dimmu has not stopped featuring this vocal style yet, as it’s annoyingly present on every album and every song. The “natural” vocals are fitting and enjoyable, however.
The production on this album is enormous. An atmosphere leaning towards the operatic is notable, with an effect that sounds like Dimmu Borgir is playing in a massive hall, with empty echoes and subtle symphonics. The latter is used sparingly, serving only on intro’s and the odd interlude, keyboards don’t feature as highly as in Cradle of Filth, for instance. In short, this album sounds huge. Dimmu Borgir truly hit their stride here, getting the sound just right and writing some classic black metal anthems in the process.
“Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” is an incredible album for many reasons. The music is brilliant, proving Dimmu were frontrunners for the genre in their day. Even the album's artwork deserves mention. Unfortunately, this album gave me too much hope for the future, and it created expectations that future DB albums could not fulfil. This then, along with “Stormblast”, is the only truly essential Dimmu Borgir, and it's a modern black metal classic in its own right.
Some Dimmu Borgir albums are a lot harder to corner and evaluate than others. Take Death Cult Armageddon and In Sorte Diaboli for instance; they’re both ridiculously fun yet simplistic and unintelligent symphonic extreme metal albums that people listen to for fun, not taking any of the pretend evilness seriously (at least, one can hope). Considerably more difficult to understand is the middle of their career, essentially consisting of this album and the mediocre Spiritual Black Dimensions. It’s obvious that the band was, due to important line-up changes and a general shift in their musical ideal, in a rather confusing period of transition. Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia is a pretty good reflection of those changes, being a rather eclectic and, at times, seemingly incomplete album.
The shaping of the modern Dimmu Borgir sound, for which they’re known/loved/hated these days, truly emerged here after having slowly started with the monumental Enthrone Darkness Triumphant several years earlier. The band included a full orchestra for the first time, and the entire sound truly reached the symphonic, very cleanly-produced bombast they’ve been riding ever since. The songwriting, however, is rather fragmented and inconsistent when viewing the entire album as a whole. Starting with a pure symphonic intro, the album carries on with four technical and highly keyboard/orchestra-dependent black metal numbers before reaching the mish-mash of different song styles, announced by the industrial-themed Puritania. When trying to witness progression, especially during the second half of the album, only disjointed ideas can really be heard. That said, the overall inconsistency doesn’t make for an awful album: it has filler, and a poorly constructed overall flow (that random second half), but the amount of quality material is still quite good.
What carries this album forward and saves it from oblivion is undoubtedly its extremely solid first half. First, a word on the intro, Fear and Wonder: the Göteborg orchestra is used to perfection here, to make a hauntingly beautiful three-minute track of nothing but classical music. This is one of those rare intros which lead the listener to expect something extraordinary after it, building one’s hopes up for the entire album. And I must say, for a while those hopes aren’t disappointed: the next four tracks are most of the highlights. Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny starts off a bit unremarkably, but proceeds to distinguish itself as high quality symphonic metal. The keyboard and vocal passages during the tempo changes of its second half are particularly original and well-constructed. Then we get the twin Dimmu Borgir anthems, Kings of the Carnival Creation & Hybrid Stigmata – The Apostasy, both of which continue the symphonic madness begun earlier and make for a very entertaining listen every time. The overall high technicality of the instrumentals works wonders here; this is how modern symphonic extreme metal should be performed. The band sacrifices the usual, cold black metal atmosphere for a flowing feel of power and it works very well, especially with the clean (but not too loud) production at work here. Architecture of a Genocidal nature follows a similar path and is quite enjoyable as well, although not quite as original as its three excellent predecessors.
The aforementioned instrumental technicality is apparent, beyond the evident prowess of a professional orchestra, in the extremely energetic drumming of Nick Barker. The man knows how to work his set and, frankly, does it better than ever before or after in his career. That feeling of power is in good part due to his performance, which is leagues ahead of that on the lackluster Spiritual Black Dimensions. The guitarists also do a pretty good job, with impressive riffs (Kings of the Carnival Creation) but, like on many similarly symphonic-dependent albums, the rivalry with the keyboards/orchestra is too great and often the guitars are buried too deep in the mix. Shagrath’s vocals reach a stable average for the career, his usual rasp which is neither bad nor something to write home about, just some decent to good stuff with acceptable variation. ICS Vortex’s backup vocals appear on a few occasions and are as refreshing as ever, although again they should’ve been used more often. All these qualities, however, can be rendered moot by poor song arrangements and a lack of coherent ideas…
And that’s exactly what happened in the second half of the album. Worse, both those flaws are aggravated by that residual dryness which can be felt throughout, likely a side-effect of the production and constant technical drumming. The stuff here is far from being all bad however, it’s just that there’s a considerably amount of filler and a general feeling of “what the hell are we doing?” emanating here. First of all, there’s Puritania: a short song with massive industrial elements throughout; this is basically loud, epic drumming and simplistic vocal arrangements. Surprisingly, it works well and doesn’t seem misplaced or annoying. Next up, IndoctriNation (of all the dumb titles…), The Maelstorm Mephisto and Absolute Sole Right are poor attempts at doing fast-paced symphonic black metal; they’re just really, really irritating and basically the reason why this second album half is so mediocre. This, unlike the above excellent tracks, feels like the band just decided to play real fast with no real structure or point, and the result is far from stellar. The very end of the album is much more inspiring however: Sympozium is a heavily symphonic, partially industrial track which just succeeds in being entertaining and enjoyable, while Perfection or Vanity is a slightly heavier (some drumming) but just as well-written counterpart to the album’s orchestral intro. The very last track is a cover of Twisted Sister’s Burn in Hell and the glam rock basis of the original is obvious even from within the framework of the Dimmu Borgir sound; a very fun ending to an entertaining album.
What we have here is a competent band performing an overall good album which, unfortunately, fell victim to a rather acute case of filler poisoning with a side of inconsistency, especially during that rather problematic second half. Still, it’s worth hearing for the awesome parts (which are very good) and as an interesting and mostly successful experiment in mixing an orchestra with extreme metal. The structure of the modern, simple-minded (ignoring the lyrics, booklet inserts & pictures and that awful, awful cover art is highly recommended) and entertaining Dimmu Borgir has arrived; it’s just a little bit shaky here and there.
I have resigned to the fact that half of the time, I don't think Dimmu Borgir know what they are doing. Throw everything against the wall, see what sticks. I know Dimmu is capable of making really good music and are usually full of ideas but of late am starting to think that, thats becoming a problem. Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia (PEM) falls victim to this
Fast forward the rather pointless classical intro. Though well done, I don't see how that adds anything to the album. In other words, we can do without it! Then comes the Highlight of the album-Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyrants. Oh baby..that riff-solid, annihilating-AWESOME!!. Blast beats-hell yeah. This then breaks down to some kinda thrashy riff which is simple but yet effective and then..WTF?!..BLAM!! just like that, the momentum is lost. A choir comes in, mixed with some horrible synth..and as if to add insult to injury, add some techno shit to proceedings and you have me looking the other way!
Sadly the album is full of this. "Oh..lets do some soloing!..Oh..Lets add in some blast beats. Oh, I think the synth would sound good here..put it also in. Oh, shit, we forgot some clear vocals..put that in". At the end of the day, you have a bowl full of coffee and its husks. And you know whats really annoying, Dimmu kicks this to us the listeners as if telling us.."Here you are..sort yourselves out!". The album doesn't follow any kind of pattern but rather just limps and hops from one track to another.
Not all is lost though coz at times this album is worth while. Architecture of a Genocidal Nature has this cool opening riff but alas..the bad synth comes riding back again. However, at this point am willing to yet this go. There's some nice filled keyboard moments at around 2:45-3:00 and the drummer also tries as much as possible not to spoil the atmosphere with his incessant blast beats. Absolute Soul Right is also a worthy mention. Some of you might be huge fans of Industrial music/metal, In that case watch out for Puritania by all means. You might find something there..industrial filled atmosphere..machine crafted vocals. This might not be one of the highlights of the album but atleast its consistent which is more than I can say for the entire album. Well, guess now they can add the tag now to their music-extreme gothic/industrial metal.
Its a pity that a band like Dimmu Borgir-especially on this album would sacrifice simplicity for just plain crap-technical wankery. Anyway, fuck it. I find myself going back to the beginning of Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyrants. Apart from this and the detailed album art..there really nothing worth remembering here. What the fuck does Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia mean anyway?!
New world order. Dimmu Borgir have with this album solidified their stance in the black metal world as the new power house and force to be reckoned with. With the new addition of black metal heavyweights (no pun intended for ex Cradle drummer) Nick Barker and Galder. When bringing two talented musicians as they into an all ready all star fold we are bound to bare witness to one of the great albums that precedes the 21st century.
The songs are over the top, bombastic and powerful anthems of war, rebellion, chaos, conflict and anti-religion. Yeah Dimmu Borgir make themselves perfectly clear on this one. Shagraths voice is as awesome as ever. A big change from his more subtle style that he found in favor on For All Tid and Stormblast. Here we see a singer come into his own and empowers his signature personae two fold. Shagraths best sung song would have to be Blessing upon the Throne of Tyranny, with the most unusual being Puritania, the only song I was never agreeable upon first and last listen.
Nicks drumming is so damn fast that when seen live its a 1 hour blur of non stop action. Undoubtedly the drumming is what sticks out the most on this album. Very evident on every track sans the instrumental intro and symphonic outro. Nick was always talented be it with his well know ex outfit Cradle, or with other bands he has since played with, but still his best delivery on any album from any band.
My favorite all time singer is Vortex. It still gives me goosebumps to here him sing the clean vocals on Spirituals, The insight and the catharsis. Here Vortex, has several standout moments. The best showcased in The Maelstrom Mephisto, "and watch the relentless paint the soil black" grim lyrics from one of the best throats in all of music. His presence is a beautiful vignette to Shagraths beastly fortitude.
Galder, Mustis and Silenoz deserve a great deal of praise as well. But I dont want to get into each individuals identity here as I wish now to concentrate fully on the music.
Few bands could ever boast of using an orchestra as Dimmu have but here in the confines of this album was pure genius. The multi layered parts are what fills in the spaces of fine instrumentation and singing. For instance the opener to Absolute Sole Right and Sympozium are in your face examples of swaying and brutal orchestration, especially in the latter. This album still resonates in the ears of this listener as one of the great treats a metal fan can behold. Powerful orchestration, amazing solo's, ambiance, triumphant prowess and power explosions of pure metal gunfire.
never again can Dimmu top this outcome. I have listened to everything in their catalog and can find nothing to compare. With the respect to Death Cult Armageddon which was an almost cookie cutter version of what Puritanical is.
Long live the legends.
I wonder why Dimmu Borgir makes albums. You could listen to the first three songs and get an idea of what the rest of the album will sound like. There's really no point in listening to a whole hour of this senseless, baseless crap, because listening to the first three songs will give you the same sensation that listening to the whole album would, and that sensation would be something like "Man, this is boring, why have I been listening to this for so many hours?", followed by an irritated glance at the timer on the CD player or MP3 timer, whereupon you see that you are only two minutes into "Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny."
Everything about this band is completely lame, sterilized and unintentionally hilarious. I mean, look at the song titles, and see awful puns like "IndoctriNation" and terrible, intentional misspellings like "Sympozium" and especially the brainless inanity of "Absolute Sole Right" and "Perfection or Vanity." Look at the band themselves, dressed in their faggottastic corpse paint, ever the evil metal warriors of the new millennium, poised for their next melted butter lathering orgy. Of course, that has no bearing on the music, but what else am I supposed to focus on? The music? This is so overloaded with keyboard trills and blastbeats and "beautiful" symphonics and heavy arena metal riffs that it's completely bloated. The vocals are a horrible blackened screech that sometimes go into a robotic sort of drone, and although I just reviewed Cynic's Focus and said that these were well done there, here it doesn't fit at all. There are clean vocals, too, and while they aren't as bad as they could be, they don't help this mess at all. This is just TOO MUCH. Dimmu Borgir know no restraint or shame as they shamble through each painful, self-indulgent pile of piss that they called a song, and it's all so gratuitously wrong that you want to slap them upside the collective head and knock some sense into their stark-white corpse paint clad heads. And it is wrong, being generally unappealing and abrasive on all accounts, and not really being marketed to anyone with the right amount of chromosomes. It won't sell to Black Metal fans because it's really, really gay shit, and it won't sell to fans of more melodic Metal because it's too harsh and blasting for their ears to handle, but people are eating this up like chicken wings anyway, so I guess that leaves something to be said about the mainstream's taste in music.
Even more ludicrous are the claims that this is Black Metal, because this is the silliest, most pompous, overblown crap I've ever heard. Dimmu Borgir try so hard to come off as evil - you can just hear it; it bleeds from their music like pus from a fresh wound - but really, go listen to Ninnghizhidda if you want evil with symphonics and class.
As for this? Well, I'm going to go back to pretending I never heard this abomination. Avoid this if you have any semblance of good taste at all, for it is the embodiment of everything wrong with the modern extreme metal scene.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
Black metal sure is a great genre. There are the classic pure black metal artists such as Immortal (which I have seen a few months ago, just like Dimmu Borgir), the pagan bands that spawned after the succes of Bathory and there are the melodic/symphonic black metal bands, such as... well Dimmu Borgir. The last subgenre of the three sure is the least populair. Of course, it is the least kvlt or pure, but when done right (like with Dissection) songs can be flawless. Dimmu Borgir, however, is far from being flawless.
They used to be good though, I think that many people can agree with me. Stormblast and For All Tid were great old-fashioned melodic black metal albums. Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, with it's great production and good use of the keyboard, was a great follower. After that, it all went downhill. Godless Savage Garden and Spiritual Black Dimensions were two great fiasco's. The sound was half symphonic and half melodic, but it all was nothing spectacular. With the start of Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia (which I will short down to Puritanical in this review), Dimmu Borgir abandoned almost every melodic riff to conentrate fully on the symphonies.
From the beginning it's clear that this is sypmhonic black metal. Fear and Wonder is a nice classical piece played by a string orchestra. Although it only features as a intro, it is one of the most enjoyable songs on the album. The main problem with the "real" songs is that they sound evil in a very forced way. 90% Of all the guitar riffs are simple tritone riffs without any substance. Shagrath's voice has a robotic undertone in it, while the old screaming vocals were much better. At last, the most redeeming factory is the fact that the strings overrule every other instrument. Because of this, songs fall very fast into repetition.
There are still some good songs, like Kings of the Carnival Creation, Hybrid Stigmata - The Apostasy and Puritania. The last of the three is the only song that differs from the others. Puritania is the only song which is fucking evil, instead of forced evil. It is a industrial sounding song with the most evil robotic vocals Dimmu Borgir has ever used. Sadly there are too many other songs which basically suck. Immature, yes, but true. The overproduced sound doesn't help either, although that's by far not the deathstab. Avoid this, and buy some good black metal.
I feel that, akin to Spiritual Black Dimensions, PEM gets unfairly bashed on a number of levels. True, gone is the grand piano wankery of Stian Aarstad, and Astennu's mind blowing guitar work on the two previous releases. This album is an acquired taste, simply put.
As stated a million times before, the drums are far too loud in the mix. Sure, Nick Barker is a great drummer, and he does a good job on this album (if not a little sloppy here and there) but at least you get the sense that hes giving it his all. Regardless, his fills are all too similar, and after a few songs, you can almost always anticipate what hes going to do next, not good.
Gone are the insanely frightening growls from Spiritual Black Dimensions, which was the height of Shagrath, vocally, in my opinion. Most of the time his voice sounds like a dry croak here on PEM. All is not lost, however! ICS Vortex contributes his best clean vocal performance to date on several songs. Most notably on "Kings of The Carnival Creation" and "The Maelstrom Mephisto".
Galder's guitar work falls a bit short, besides his great solo on "Kings", he really does nothing groundbreaking, and has yet to even now, 6 years and 3 releases later.
Its true, "Puritania" is a pure stinker of a track, but the only real filler I could find throughout this release. Two instrumentals, showcasing Mustis' skills, buffer the album at the beginning and end. Many tracks suffer from being a bit too similar: i.e. the "Indoctrination", "Maelstrom Mephisto", "Aboslute Sole Right" trio near the end of the album, but are all quality tracks by themselves. The album picks up steam near the end, finishing with probably the best track on the album "Sympozium".
After several listens, this release has grown on me, more than DCA ever could. Don't throw it by the way-side without honoring a listen or two.
While this is not as good as the previous 2, Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, and Spiritual Black Dimensions, I still see this as a solid release, it's still Black Metal, and I think the musicianship on this album is very tight, they had some really good ideas for this album, and in my opinion, they worked well.
The new member this time, is former Cradle of Filth drummer Nick Barker, and in my opinion, sounds MUCH better with Dimmu here, this guy is a drum god, his speed, technicallity, wow, fucking killer, also I hear some people saying the drums on this album sound like a drum machine? Hahahaha, give me a BREAK, they don't even sound CLOSE to a drum machine, that's just good production, which is what I will get to next, so far, this is the best produced Dimmu album, everything is crisp, and nothing is drowned out, some say the drums are too loud, but I don't think so at all, they are right where they belong.
"Fear and Wonder" Is pointless, just an instrumental, the album really kicks off with "Blessings Upon The Throne of Tyranny" This song is just fucking great, opening with a great fast riff, followed by Nicks killer double bass, man does this song get fucking fast, but still manages to have a sense of groove, the break is great too, and the part after, at about 3:41, it REALLY sounds like old Fear Factory there, see for yourself, "Kings of the Carnival Creation" Starts with a weird, demonic laugh, pretty cool actually, then the song kicks in with Nicks killer double bass again, and more killer riffs, almost sounds like Death Metal in spots, the verse/chorus is catchy, with a great riff, also, this is the first song on the album where Vortex is found with his clean, operatic vocals, what a voice he has, fits very well, "Hybrid Stigmata-The Apostasy" Kind of opens like "Mourning Palace" from ETD, with it's slow, symphonic intro, and is pretty much used throughout the song, makes a very cool effect, as it makes the song flow, some weird ass vocals in the beginning, just another good song.
"Architecture of a Genocidal Nature" Opens with some killer, twisty riffs, and killer double bass once again, the chorus is very cool, as the piano plays a HUGE part in it, it fits very well, then at about 2:30, you'll hear a very cool sample, then Nicks KILLER drum solo part, then Vortex eventually starts sharing vocal parts with Shagrath, makes for a very cool effect, "Puritania" Is VERY weird, this one REALLY sounds like old Fear Factory, with it's pummeling double bass, and the riffs, and the vocals are really different, I can't even explain them, then the symphonic sounds eventually find their way in, I think this is a pretty cool track, it shows a diverse band, "IndoctriNation" Starts out right off, with it's very fast riffing/double bass, and Shagrath screaming his ass off, this kind of reminds me of "Master of Disharmony" off ETD, then the break comes at about 2:17, with a very cool symphony sound, and a backround voice, which is really weird, then eventually, the guitar will follow the symphony, it's very cool sounding.
"The Maelstrom Mephisto" Opens with a killer little drum solo by Nick, this song is pretty brutal all the way through, more of Vortex's killer clean vocals here as well, not much else to say.
The rest are pretty good too, but it's more of the same, "Perfection or Vanity" Is a closing instrumental, isn't bad actually, it kind of reminds me of Emperor - The Wanderer, from Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, I think this album is pretty damned good, and Nick Barker presence is nice too, because this guy is a drum god, and it just makes this album all the much better, but if you're looking for another Stormblast, don't look here, if you liked the bands previous 2 albums, and liked them, check this out, because it really progresses from those.
What would you do if you play symphonic black metal and you have a whole philarmonic orchestra? Awful c-class movie soundtrack over normally boring and generic pseudo-thrash riffs? Well, that's something Dimmu Borgir included in this release. The lineup for this album is a constellation of superstar, each one trying to shine brighter than the others. Of course that's what made this record sound so absurd at moments, however this album is technically perfect. The performances are flawless but despite that, this album is mediocre.
What's wrong then? The worst thing is the songwrinting. It is like these guys just tried to create perfect harmonic constructions and....nothing more. The compositions are fucking empty, I mean, the lack of feeling in the songs is desperating. And the fact that the sound is almost as mechanical as a midi file doesn't help much to the overall feeling. I don't like the vocals also. Compared to the old style of Shagrath, the new vocals are higher and weaker and, why the hell did he sung with that annoying bad imitation of Mr.Doctor (Devil Doll) in some of the worst songs? Another complaint I have is the full-triggered sound of the drums that seems like a goddamn drum machine. Nick Barker just wants to show us how fast and technical he can play: too much ornaments with that electronic sound (just hear the fucking toms!) can't be good. As I said before the orchestral arrangements are bad soundtrack-like stuff, but all that I mentioned here is bearable. What is the most disgusting thing is all that useless techno-crap that Mustis plays with his synthesizers.
The things that save this album from being totally bad are the great performances and a few ideas inbetween some songs i.e. the final riff of "Kings of the Carnival Creation" or the marvelous outro "Perfection or Vanity". In that parts they really sound like a solid band full of conviction and feeling. Unfortunately parts like that are very few and far apart. The best songs here are "The Maelstrom Mephisto" and "Absolute Sole Right", curiosely the most simple ones (that doesn't mean they're easy). With songs like that Dimmu Borgir sound like a metal band and not like a mix of Dream Theater, Slipknot and Chemical Brothers like the rest of the album.
Resuming: This is a mediocre album with a few great highlights. Damn, if the whole album were like "The Maelstrom Mephisto" or the chorus and middle section of "Sympozium" I would praise this, but the overproduction makes this get less points. If you like soundtrack like music, buy "Death Cult Armaggedon". That album is far better than this one.
There's little that I can say about this album that hasn't already been said by others. Suffice it to say that I don't like it.
Several things bother me about this release. The foremost would be the generally plastic nature of it. To call the songs "bad" is something of a misstatement. That is, the instruments are played well, and the composition, for the most part, isn't terrible (well, ok, maybe Puritania). No, the problem is really that it's all been heard before. Every element to this release has been utilized countless times before, often by Dimmu themselves. It gives the impression of just another release cranked out of the Dimmu factory.
The lyrics are the only thing that overtly suck (besides the aforementioned Puritania, that is). I don't know who listens to Dimmu Borgir for the lyrics, but I can't imagine that anyone finds anything worthwile in them.
Anyways, with lack of anything else better to say, here's a rundown of the album. It opens with an interesting instrumental, Fear and Wonder, performed by an actual orchestra. Then comes Blessings upon the Throne of Tyranny, a notable song only because people kept telling me it was good when it isn't. Kings of the Carnival Creation is probably the best song on the album. Puritania is track 5, I'd recommend scratching it out. Track 11 is another instrumental, Perfection or Vanity. It's fun for a while, and blissfully short, but eventually ends up sounding like everything else.
The rest I can't even describe, I just don't care at all to remember it. Like much of Dimmu's other stuff, the whole album fails to hold my attention for its duration, which is an entire hour.
It's well produced, well played, nicely packaged, and at the end of the day, completely irrelevant. The 50% score doesn't really mean anything, I don't like number ratings.
I haven't heard many Dimmu Borgir records, but this one is quite different from Stormblåst. I don't understand who calls the sound "over-produced" just because it's well recorded and sounds powerful like Dolby Digital in movies; why should music sound thin and lack bass, like listening to Iron Maiden's first studio album on some vinyl (not to offend Iron Maiden - I love em, but their sound is much better nowadays, and live)? The "over-produced" sound makes more accessible - it's common that about almost every band there is, their tenth-anniversary albums sound much more powerful than their first releases. It's the same with Cradle of Filth; although I think their newest album (Damnation and a Day) is musically their weakest, it still sounds much better than most of their old studio album songs. The problematic "over-production" is in fact the overuse of non-metal instruments and other excessive experimentation, not the quality of recording. If would make both Cradle and Dimmu re-record their old albums to sound like this one if I only could; "I'd like to order an over-produced rerecording of Stormblåst, please". In any case, live CD's beat the crap out of both old and new studio albums when it comes to sounding good.
Now to the music. I was initially very impressed, because songs like 'Indoctrination' and 'Absolute Sole Right' really blasts your speakers, and Shagrath sounds in my opinion better than ever before. 'Blessing Upon the Throne of Tyranny' is a nice keyboard track, and a potential challenger the great old 'Stormblåst'. Some of the songs experiment with a more symphonic style, using strings and a clean singer; some of them succeed and some of them don't. 'Hybrid Stigmata' is perhaps the best example, and turned out to be very beautiful, possibly even the best song on the album. 'Symphozium' is also very symphonic, but good black metal riffs drown in the over-use of strings and voice, and it's the same problem with 'The Maelstorm Mephisto', which also has some stupid and annoying electronic effects, which also sabotage some other songs; 'Puritania' is a piece of trash because it's nothing but electro crap. I don't know anything about electro or industrial metal, but Dimmu Borgir should never again try to do those like it did on this track. I also hope that unless they keep making more masterpieces like 'Hybrid Stigmata', they should stop using strings in almost every song.
And what do we have here - 'Perfection of Vanity'... yes, that track is the perfection of vanity itself, since it's almost four minutes of repeatance over and over again. At least I'm glad they didn't make it ten minutes. Overall the album has a fair amount of good or great songs, but half of the songs suffer from symphonic and especially electronic experimentation.
Some people label this as Dimmu Borgir's definite "sell-out" record, which may or may not be true; even setting that viewpoint aside, the music has taken a turn for the worst (again). I should probably start by saying that while this album is bad, it's not an absolute atrocity (hence the 49).
As I stated in the title, PEM is painfully repetitive. It's not that all the songs necessarily sound the same (some of them do), but rather the entire album has a certain feel and sound to it that it never breaks away from. Think of it as there being a certain "base formula" for the sound, and then each song just builds on top of that. Don't get me wrong, I am well aware that this same method is used on many great albums, but it simply doesn't work for the type of music that is being played (which has little to no resemblance to black metal, contrary to the ravings of many a mainstream rock magazine). I'll talk a bit more about this repetitiveness when I single out songs.
The album starts out well, with the great instrumental "Fear and Wonder", which Mustis should be congratulated for writing, as it is definitely one of the best tracks on the album. Next comes "Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny", which is mediocre at best. The next songs, "Kings of the Carnival Creation" and "Hybrid Stigmata - The Apostasy" are two of the better songs on the album, containing a nice mix of musical style (the standard style on the album mixed with good-sounding synth) and good vocal variation as well, featuring different levels of distortion on Shagrath's voice and a good amount of Vortex's clean vocals.
Now is where the album drops steadily downhill. "Architecture of a Genocidal Nature", simply put, is boring as hell. The entire song is carried at a medium-paced tempo with constant, predictable guitars and little to no variation in the vocals. (I keep mentioning the vocals on this album because on this album, they definitely help determine the quality of a song.) It wouldn't be so bad for a three to four minute song, but the song drones on for six minutes. Now comes the infamous "Puritania", easily the worst song of any Dimmu Borgir album. The song feels very empty and shallow, like not much thought at all was put into it. A straight two minutes of "sci-fi" sounding vocal samples, repetitive synth and guitar, and very predictable vocal samples are the "highlights". This song may have done better on another type of album in a different type of music, but it simply doesn't fit here.
Next comes the most repetitive part of the album, the trio of "IndoctriNation", "The Maelstrom Mephisto", and "Absolute Sole Right". The songs are all fast-paced, aggressive, and "intense" (at least compared to the rest of the album) with similar sounding guitar parts and nearly identical vocal arrangements. The individual songs themselves are not really bad (all of them, especially "The Maelstrom Mephisto", are decent songs), but they all sound so similar that it becomes mind-numbing after the second song.
At this point, the album takes a slight turn upward. "Sympozium" is an above-average song that, like "Kings" and "Hybrid" has a nice mix of the standard style and synth accompanied by entertaining vocals. However, at this point, even these qualities are repetitive since they were seen on both of the aforementioned songs near the beginning of the album, making the song hardly worth the listen. The last track is another instrumental, "Perfection and Vanity", that while very good is not up to par with "Fear and Wonder". Still one of the highlights of the album.
I apologize for the length of this review, but I felt that instead of just spouting off about how PEM is such a bad album, I'd actually attempt to explain why it is a bad album, song by song.
Highlights: "Fear and Wonder", "Kings of the Carnival Creation", "Hybrid Stigmata - The Apostasy", "Perfection and Vanity"
Lowpoints: "Architecture of a Genocidal Nature", "Puritania"
Yay! Another album that blows my mind with its horribleness. See, it's not the fact that it's really abysmal 95% of the time that really does it - it's the fact that around 5% of the time, they got something going, and then promptly forget it.
Okay, most overt flaw... as with most modern bands, the drumwork is far too fucking loud. It detracts severely from the riffs. There are a few blast beats here and there, and in general a lot of annoying double-bass. Quickly, to see how good this could be, check out the speed metal break in Absolute Sole Right at 1.45 - all guitars, and they have it working. Then, the drums come in and blow everything away.
Highlights... about 30 seconds of The Maelstrom Mephisto. They suddenly get all thrash on your ass, with some serious ability to bang your fucking head. "Urggghh!!!" and some monster fucking riffage. Fuck yeah. If the whole album were like this, it would own so fucking much. Even with the keyboards, the pwnage is there, thanks to that one riff. They should keep it. But no - they have to throw in 437098 ideas per song, and about 437097 are crap. They really don't have much going in the good solid coherence department. Too many crappy keyboard interludes, and generally riffless passages where the vocals or the drums dominate.
Also, a lot of the times when they do have a riff, it's a shitty Gothenburg-style riff. See around 1.38 in Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny. That one guitar lick pops up every few seconds, but otherwise do you really have any idea what the guitars are doing? I do not. Also, some really bad Pantera-ish halfthrash riffs abound, especially in the song "Puritania", which just has some of the worst ideas the album has to offer, with the stupid robot vocals and whatnot.
Oh, the real highlight... must be the Twisted Sister cover. They borrowed some quality songwriting from a band that actually knows of such a thing, and they managed to not have the drums too fucking loud in the mix. My only complaint, the lead singer - he takes his vocals to an extra level of geighness in this one. The backup vocals are fucking great though (hear no evil!) and the solo is reproduced faithfully too. So, not bad, but please, fire the singer and get someone that can write songs too.
PURITANICAL EUPHORIC MISANTHROPIA REVIEW
REVIEW BY ASTATHICA
Ladies and gentlemen, here you are the total laughing stocks of Black Metal! Maybe there are no sufficient words to describe the utter gayness of the last album of the once truly great but now rapidly fading Dimmu Borgir, one of the most influential bands until their latest piece of musical expression came to the stores near you.
This band has found a new 'style' with their new line-up, and whilst progression isn't always a bad thing, this album proves that in only one album a band can totally destroy their long-time built-up status as one of the best blackmetal acts to date.
Unlike their english counterparts Cradle of Hiv, Dimmu Borgir continued to play good blackmetal with "Spiritual black dimensions" as their last piece of inspiring audio. But after that, the line-up changed and more people came and went then on a public toilet. In the end, only 2 of the original band members appeared together with a huge scala of well-known international blackmetal-artists. Also they brought with them a gigantic orchestra, for the extra classical note in their heavy, yet gracefully played songs.
So off they went, recording their latest musical effort entitled 'Puritanical Euphoric Mysteria'. The final result of this can be described in one word: pure, total shit. Don't get me wrong, it's not only the fact that Dimmu Borgir has shown no loyalty to their own style at all, whenever it would be an unknown metal-act, it would've been a bad album as well.
First of all, their great plans with the orchestra failed as throwing a brick on a concrete building. It's hardly hearable, only on 2 or 3 tracks it plays a permanent and important role, which is ofcourse way too little for an orchestra like that. But whenever they play, it's all the highlights of the album.
Next thing are the drums, played by newcomer yet blackmetal-veteran Nicholas Barker, that fall into the deep gap of unworthy releases to date. His drums are way too massive for the blackmetal-style played as Dimmu Borgir once did so nicely. His drums are triggered, but instead of using nice 'almost real'-samples he done it with plastic-sounding 'tabletop-and-pen-clicking-drums', as earlier performed by Mongoloid Gnome, a well-known blackmetal-mockery band with some members of the deceased yet not forgotten NS-Grindband Anal Cunt.
The guitars are ok, they're a little far in the mix, but not mentionably bad, as it goes with the bass. The man holding the bass, former Borknagar-vocalist ICS Vortex contributes his clean vocal abilities on some of the pieces on the record. To cut the entire cake short: it is total crap. I have heard better vocals on 'Over bieknede blåner till dommedag', a well-known song for all clean vocalists as an example how NOT to sing. From now on, they can add mr. Vortex' clean additions on this album as well.
Another point is main vocalist Shagrath, once a brilliant singer with his high/low-combination of astonishing grunts, sounding like Satan himself poured them out of his laptop-speakers, whilst now on this album trying new things; effects, sampling and other ways of singing. And even though there isn't anything against trying to create new hellish sonique by these manners, is it the former king of the mainstream blackmetal who sounds bored, doing his same thing over and over again, even during the unconventional pieces of vocal expression.
Finally there is the tracklist, and in particular one song. Yes, i am talking about 'Puritania', which is would hereby like to nominate for 'worst song of the new millenium'. A total Kovenant rip-off, with nice little sampling sounds and electronic keyboards, while playing one of the easiest melodies that ever existed since The Beatles had their breakthrough playing bad covers from well-known bands. I'm sorry, but this is a shame for modern blackmetal as we speak.
Conclusion: it's not always bad to improve, change or evolve, just look at bands like Antaeus and Enthroned for instance. But i can also easily turn against you. This is what happened with our good buddies Dimmu Borgir, and their newest album, even though it's not worth the title 'album', in this case i prefer to say 'waste of time and money'.
[b]TOTAL: 4,3/10 [/b]
Thank you all for the attention.