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The 1996 album Stormblåst is a pseudo-classic that is occasionally cited as being “that one good one they did.” Not a flawless work in its own right, but certainly has its charm. It may have been the first exposure to second wave black metal for many a wet-eared listener, due to more widespread familiarity with Dimmu Borgir’s later works. Although the members of said band had spent a decade trying to forget they ever wrote this record, Shagrath and co. must have caught wind of its moderate acclaim. What else could have inspired this cynical retread? Before proceeding further, I must admit that this review hinges largely on the contrast and comparison between the original album and its reboot. That said, I first heard both albums in roughly the same time period, so I will contest that my bias is not one of nostalgia but rather simply of preference.
Cover Art: I like to dedicate a special section to the album cover. After all, it’s typically ones first impression of a record, and may literally color the listening experience (how one visualizes the music). To its credit, the new Stormblåst does keep a fairly similar palette to the original. Unfortunately, it lacks the depth and mystery of Alex Kurtagić’s unique fantasy world that has been partially charted on such works as ‘The Cainian Chronicle’ and ‘The Silence of December.’ What before was a towering black castle or megalith of indeterminate height, encircled by sinister trees reaching to its apex and focal point, is now some manner of ringwraith with digitally rendered goat horns. The background, appropriately storm-blown, looks straight out of a contemporary video game cutscene. I am quite surprised to find that the artist behind this piece isn’t a member of the band, and is in fact the guy who painted that delightful creature/botched cosmetic surgery job on the front of ‘Release From Agony.’ For its flaws, this image fits the album quite well and does little to set up false expectations for the contents within.
I could summarize the experience of Stormblåst MMV as “compressed.” Peter Tägtgren is at the knobs to make sure you don’t miss out on a single note, to ensure no one kick drum hit is a single decibel lower than another, to make sure this thing doesn’t have any unintentional mistakes or accidental displays of emotion. There’s very little space to this record, it feels like every instrument is constantly competing for the loudest. I find it very difficult to sink into what the album tries to embody or portray, because everything is laid out in front so plainly. On top of that, every song is a few BPM faster than the older counterparts, which compounds the aforementioned lack of “breathing room.” It’s too overbearing for background listening, but too rudimentary for active participation. Like some kind of garish, high-contrast blue and black wallpaper that induces eye watering any time you glance at it.
The thing about Stormblåst is that the songs were never particularly well written or arranged to begin with. They are clearly a huge step above the debut in terms of songwriting here, but adhere too often to shmaltzy consonance especially when the keyboards get going. What makes the original interesting is its quirks: the slow pace of a track like “Broderskapets ring,” the drastic tempo change of the piano break in “Når sjelen hentes til helvete,” the bass-heavy mix and rather “dull” guitar tone. These are elements people don’t typically associate with 90s black metal, and are a source of contention regarding the legacy of the original Stormblåst. However, such characteristics lend to the album the sound of a disparate time and place from our own. Though I realize this assessment hinges on individual perception, it truly does seem archaic and isolated from modernity. But as interpreted by the Norsk Corporate Entity that is Dimmu Borgir today, Stormblåst seems a mere product. There is simply a mismatch between the mindsets of when the album was first composed and when it was remade.
Take a song like “Antikrist.” Formerly, it was fairly noteworthy for its memorable bass guitar melody and complementary tremolo guitar part. But in this new version, guitar rather than bass is emphasized, which trades straight tremolo for the syncopated picking commonplace in later Dimmu Borgir. The pre-chorus lacks not only the original synth melody, but any and all owl sound effects! As they clearly don’t give a hoot, Dimmu tries to make up for the lost theme by playing a harmonized pedal tone riff more befitting a late ‘90s melodeath band than Norwegian Black Metal. Another instance of ill-conceived alterations is the first track, which sets the stage by seemingly offering Dimmu’s interpretation of the chromatic theme from Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. This album has been boiled and salted to the point where all subtlety is lost, and what remains is an unremarkable flavorless mush. However, the band must have also noticed a few dried turds on the cutting board, and in a vodka and barbiturate induced haze mistook them for potatoes and promptly lobbed them into the stew.
I speak of course of the original compositions that have been appended to this release. One was conceived as a replacement for “Sorgens Kammer,” due to the latter having been plagiarized wholesale from a video game. Instead of trying to convey whatever atmosphere the original had, Shaggy and the Mystery Machine churn out a song archetypical of their blackened heavy metal wont. Despite their best attempts to be original, the first part of the song is based around a riff that sounds directly pilfered from “Inno a Satana.” After a few minutes of syncopated double kick and some kind of chirping synthesizer (perhaps making amends for the lack of avian contribution to the aforementioned “Antikrist”), it is clear that this song clashes with the mid-90s compositions, and serves only to remind us that “yes this is indeed the New and Improved Stormblåst kids! Buy now and we’ll throw in a shoddy new Dimmu Borgir track, absolutely free.” But wait, there’s … more. “Avmaktslave” actually is more successful in resembling the other tracks on this album, such that I’d actually be convinced if told it was an outtake from the original sessions. However, if it truly had been written in 1995, I can imagine the song would lead to something. Instead, we get a few minutes of competent yet unremarkable tremolo picking and Hellhammering, then the album just ends. It’s as if I just ended this paragraph here, you’d be
There are a few things that work on Stormblåst MMV. The first riff of the title track is one of the few instances where Dimmu introduces new content and it constitutes an actual improvement. This song has an easily discernible yet satisfying melodic development which befits the polished approach of later Dimmu Borgir, at least better so than the album’s other remakes. The last minute or so manages to convey a semblance of the original’s spirit; Hellhammer and keyboardist Mustis try their damnedest not to overplay but ultimately fail as the song fades. I also like the choir that introduces “Dødsferd,” although it would perhaps have been more effective as a longer acapella prelude, establishing a tonality and atmosphere for the song. But it seems Dimmu is afraid of silence on this album, there are too few parts that are left unadorned or un-drum-filled. There’s actually a pause in “Dødsferd” at 1:44. Did you catch it? Maybe DB think this little of their fans, that they wouldn’t tolerate a gap of greater than 0.05 seconds. Yet the fans apparently like Stormblåst 1996 to warrant this new album. It’s possible the band wanted these songs to “work” better in a live setting with their other material, but as far as I know none of these tracks have made it onto their permanent setlist. The most mystifying aspect of this remake is its impetus: I cannot fathom why it was made.
I suppose there is some appeal for those that would prefer the new to the old, the polished to the flawed, the professional to the amateur. However, I maintain that the intentions behind the original compositions and this reproduction are fundamentally conflicted. Stormblåst is a flawed album, but holds a degree of distinctiveness in the Dimmu Borgir catalog, mostly because it sounds so far removed from the band that would later record with both the Prague Philharmonic and (hilariously) the guy from Old Man’s Child. Recording a badass, heavy fuckin’ metal version of these songs only illuminates how minimal and repetitive they are, while stripping away what little mystique they originally had. It is quite clear that Dimmu Borgir were rather immature as musicians in the mid-90s, and like many of their contemporaries sought to create a work which placed atmosphere and emotion above technicality. But perhaps now that they can afford the best musicianship and the best studios and the best bird samples, there’s no need to focus on such secondary or intangible elements. If Dimmu Borgir does indeed want to be Norwegian symphonic Judas Priest (circa 1988), power to them. But as it has been stated in this review ad nauseum, said approach is ill suited to Stormblåst.
It’s funny how things happen. Between 1994 and 1997, Dimmu Borgir, a promising Norwegian band, released three of the most important symphonic black metal albums ever: “For All Tid”, “Stormblåst” and “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”. The success of “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant” (released by the prestigious label Nuclear Blast) brought them to be one of the most famous extreme metal acts of the mainstream scene. Then, the decline. “Spiritual Black Dimensions” was a very confused and weak release if compared to the previous ones, while “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” and “Death Cult Armageddon” were sadly ruined by a pretentious songwriting. In the meantime, Dimmu Borgir slowly became a sort of “clown band”, where the ridiculous “pseudo-satanic image” worked perfectly to impress metal kids, even if the music was painfully weak. At this point, it’s easy to expect some commercial operations, like re-releases or re-recordings (Nuclear Blast is a total moneygrabber label, we all know it). So, in 2005, “Stormblåst MMV” comes out. As you could imagine, it’s nothing but a re-recording of their 1996 classic, with a better production (because, you know, metal kids can’t stand black metal productions!).
So, what really is the funny thing about it? We’re full of great bands making re-recordings of their past classics, often with bad/decent/average results (however, unable to replace the beauty of the original). And then we have Dimmu Borgir, an already fucked up band, clearly interested only in moneygrabbing... but able to make a re-recording of their best album almost achieving its original beauty! Well, I’m not saying this re-recording is exactly at the same level of the original “Stormblåst” release and above “For All Tid” and “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”... but, comparing the quality of both versions, we’re on quite close levels, and when it comes to re-recordings, this isn’t a very typical thing.
The most surprising statement I could make about this new version is that it doesn’t sound just like a carbon-copy of the original with a better production in addition: yes, the production is without doubt clearer and tighter (thanks to Peter Tägtgren, which made a perfect job, differently from “Spiritual Black Dimensions”), but, beyond this, even the atmosphere of the record has radically changed, making “Stormblåst MMV” almost a standalone release in Dimmu Borgir’s catalog. Let’s explain it clearer... the original version of “Stormblåst” is remarkable for its melodic and pretty “calm” vibe, thanks to the place occupied by the synths and the mellow (yet fitting) production. Even the artwork, with that beautiful mixture of dark and dull colours, gives exactly that kind of feeling. Contrariwise, “Stormblåst MMV” looks and sounds almost like “the brutal twin”: a stronger and more professional production, a lower guitar tone and a minor prominence of synths gives to this version a darker, heavier and more “muscular” feel. And also in this case, the awesome artwork speaks itself.
As I said in my original “Stormblåst” review, many people think that the keyboards are the only true force of that album. These are the same people who bitched about this re-recorded version, just because there’s less space for synth lines; maybe, they think that those beautiful riffs don’t matter. Don’t believe these words: the keys are still there, less prominent in the mix (and this is a very curious choice, considering the band’s most recent outputs), but still audible enough to create a dark and epic atmosphere, in a perfect balance (for once, Mustis doesn’t fuck around with silly effects and just plays the original parts). The highlights of the original album haven’t disappeared: on “Alt lys er svunnet hen”, you’ll still find that majestic fast riff, empowered by awesome synth lines: this is still the best riff ever written by Dimmu Borgir. The melodic and passionate vibe which permeated most of these songs is still audible, though in a slightly different way: just to mention some interesting changes... at the beginning of “Dødsferd” (which has always been one of the band’s greatest tunes), they have even added an “epic choir” that, for once, doesn’t suck balls; and this is a great achievement, considering the current status of the band. However, I can’t give a uniform judgement to the whole record: some songs have been redone better than others. I admit, for example, that some tracks tend to sound a bit too “polished” and more “mechanical” in comparison to their original versions (it’s the case of “Antikrist”), but, luckily, there are no real weak parts.
However, I still have to mention the most incredible fact about this album: in addition to the re-recorded songs, there are also two new tracks, and... THEY RULE! The style is totally in the vein of old school Dimmu Borgir, probably because, as declared by themselves, they took and rearranged some rejected ideas of their old repertory. “Avmaktslave” is a great black metal track, mostly in the vein of “Stormblåst”. And then, we have one of my favorite Dimmu Borgir songs ever. One of those few songs by them which, beside “Alt lys er svunnet hen”, “In Death’s Embrace” and “Master of Disharmony”, have found a little place in my heart even if I’m not a huge fan of this band. I’m talking about “Sorgens kammer - del II”! We all know that the original “Sorgens kammer” was a complete ripoff, so the band removed it from the new version of the album (along with the other stolen piano intros) and substituted it with this suggestive, spine-chilling, incredible piece of esoteric atmosphere. The sound is mostly reminiscent of the ethereal, contemplative style of “For All Tid”, but in a darker, more evil and more modern form. Truth be told, there’s still a little “ripoff” to be found on here too... in fact, the synth line sounds exactly like a riff from Dissection’s “Frozen”. However, the context is totally different: that synth line is placed along with some incredibly evocative arpeggios, and I love how these two elements blend perfectly together, giving an incredible sensation of pathos and drama in their own, personal way. An excellent song, and still far from being a complete Dissection ripoff.
In conclusion... this is the only post-Enthrone Dimmu Borgir release I really completely enjoy. This time, the band did a very good job, giving a new skin to their old classics without denaturalizing them, thanks to a better production and a better musicianship (by the way... this time, the almighty Hellhammer sits behind the drumkit!). You won’t find any of those shitty cliches which affect all the post-Enthrone releases and ruin even potentially good albums such as “Death Cult Armageddon”: this is real old school symphonic black metal, just rehashed with a modern production and a modern atmosphere. A commercial operation by Nuclear Blast, but after all... who cares.
I suppose I am in the minority regarding my opinion on the original pressing of Stormblåst. I find it an annoyingly under-produced, lethargically-performed affair that sounds like it was recorded through fifty feet of drainage tube. I appreciate that some listeners consider that "atmosphere", but to me atmosphere manifests itself as more subdued qualities. More of a feel than a cut-and-dry attempt at intentionally obfuscating the sound and playing like you are half awake just to obscure the performance. So while I give Exodus a lot of flak for re-recording an absolute, undisputed classic like Bonded By Blood, Dimmu Borgir had the opportunity to modernize their sophomore LP; even if only by virtue of the all-star lineup they assembled to tackle the project.
The biggest deviation on first blush is without a doubt the replacement of "Sorgens kammer" with "Sorgens kammer - del II". The replacement is a functional enough modern cut on par with most of the material on Death Cult Armageddon, so the removal of Aarstad's plagiarized piano piece isn't necessarily a huge loss. The intro to "Alt lys er svunnet hen", which is stolen from "Sacred Hour" by Magnum is also missing, so we already have a vastly different soundscape before factoring in the new performances. The production values here are just unbelievable, as this sounds better than even Death Cult Armageddon. The guitars are down-tuned and the tone is just monstrous, making songs such as the originally lethargic "Dødsferd" come alive. Near the end of the track the guitars shift into a thrashy riffing pattern accentuated by the mournful keyboards, summoning a whole new atmosphere that was sorely lacking on the original.
Mustis' performances on every album save for this one were always overblown, theatrical, and really gutted the atmosphere akin to modern Nightwish. He shows a modicum of restraint here, enough to keep the entire affair from growing tiring. The backing string/choir sections on "Broderskapets ring" and the title track make them the two best cuts here. The keyboards aren't constantly in the background, so it helps accentuates the sections that do feature them; less is definitely more in this case. Shagrath even pulls out a decent performance, accentuating his normal robotic tone with guttural roars that just rumble your core. During the title track, the line "Mot Sorias fjellheim. Kommer jeg, en fandens ridder." embodies primal rage. I am confounded as to why he doesn't adopt this style more often.
Blomberg's performance on the kit is superior to Tjodalv's on the original, mainly due to the latter's inability to blast adequately. I can't help but feel he is just collecting a paycheck here though, as he fails to break new ground or generate anything even bordering on surprise elements. Stormblåst MMV loses steam during the second half, as per the original release. Even the enthusiastic performances can do little to save songs that are complete wastes of time to begin with. Regardless, I would still consider this to be the blueprint and benchmark of how to approach re-recorded albums. If Stormblåst can be saved, perhaps anything can.
I like the original - it calms me, but what are the chances that the "same" album could give you a great mood, but not the same one? I mean, if I want calm music, I turn to the original version; if I want aggression, brutality, epic ness and complexity, I turn to the re-recorded version. An added plus is given to the fact that both contain the element of atmosphere, so I can NOT understand the fuss about this album!
Well, the production is better, which I think is understandable - you see, we are talking about respected musicians (not in the mood of arguing on this topic), with great notoriety, that have proven their ambitions of reaching perfection in their goals time and time again! So, an album with crappy production, released by a crappy label that mocked the creative efforts of ambitious youngsters had a boomerang effect: almost 10 years after the release, the true potential of the record was to be revealed and cast a shadow on the unpleasantness of the events from that era.
Alt Lys Er Svunnet Hen is a good sample of sincere music, receiving its proper treatment. The melancholic alas plagiarized introduction is gone, but the track has Hammond organ chords and choir melodies which, while not creating a melancholic atmosphere, do sound original, grand and epic, but not cheesy. These elements do not overcome the catchy riffs, as they are used properly. The drums and vocals are similar to the original patterns, just that Shagrath's scream is weak and Silenoz needed better warming (2005 is not 1997).
Brodeskapets Ring is one of my favorite tracks from Dimmu, especially the re-recording! What I like here is the catchiness and calmness induced by the choir's melodies and the spoken, demonic and diverse vocal patterns: an easy song to cover, even if the lyrics are in Norwegian, which I don't find problematic (if you like something really that bad, the obstacles seem mere products of your own imagination).
Other new elements are the guitar licks from the end, which could have formed a solo, but no matter: it sounds fine for my ears. The accelerated tempo at the end of the song is so awesome; it makes me beg for hearing a continuation of the song for another at least two minutes, because the keyboard melodies and arrangements are so divine! And speaking of divine, this song may confuse some by thinking they are listening to white metal: the lyrics are about glorifying alright, but not God; hell no, it's about glorifying death (dod)! Who could have guessed that singing in a non-English language could create such a marvelous illusion!
Nar Sjelen Hentes Til Helvete is one song that stays true to the original. Well, why change anything to this song? Except maybe the drum patterns and the ending which, by the way, contrasts so powerful with the middle part of the song, with the piano solo which also contrasts with the next part, the one with blast beats and alert tempo and riffing. It goes to show that, even if the musicians attempt to perfect the recording, they do not forget to have fun while doing it.
Sorgens Kammer del II is a song I do not wish to talk about! This one is repetitive, boring, only having the credit of being new and retaining the characteristic compositional elements of previous songs. Maybe I can give them a plus for incorporating clean-sounding riffing in the song, but this is misused or, more adequate speaking, overused.
Da Den Kristne Satte Livet Til is the death metal progeny of the album. What has death metal to do with Stormblast? Well, let’s look at the riffing - low register riffs, with heavy palm muting, just played in a black metal fashion, backed by the choir. The death metal print does not wear off, as the guys will toy a little bit later on the album, only to overuse it on In Sorte Diaboli.
Stormblast!!! If there is one track that, no matter when or how it is re-recorded, is giving you the same mood, it is Stormblast! The only downside of this song is that I can not turn the volume of my player to 15. Petty! Thunders, choirs, organs, heavy riffing (with the aforementioned death metal influences), demonic vocals, screaming, tempo changes, bass licks, complex drums patterns - just a few reasons for not avoid listening to this song and one of the reasons why this album deserves attention and credit.
Dodsferd is one song that is obvious from the start it was improved. The choir arrangements are so beautiful; it just relaxes me, but then comes the storm. This song is probably the most relevant on hearing Shagrath passionately screaming, growling, grunting and screeching all the way 'till the glourious ending with choirs and the original melody from the original album, just that in this case is played by an organ, not by violins. Don't get me wrong - I like violins, but an organ just sounds better with choirs!
Antikrist is still funny, from a sadistic point of view! I mean this song is really, really sadistic! The joyful melodies, the bass licks and the catchy drum patterns are not quite appropriate for the style of vocals and the lyrics, which deal the massacre of Christians. The point: do not take it seriously! Fortunately, this kind of events do not take place in modern civilizations nowadays, so fooling around with this subject can be quite awesome! Thumbs up for Dimmu Borgir!
Vinder Fra En Ensom Grav is Bordeskapets Ring 2.0, just with a lot of bugs: the intro is misplaced, as the vocal effects and the unimaginative guitar licks. Only the fast part of the song and the keyboard arrangements save this song from being a weak clone of the aforementioned song.
Guds Fortapelse - Apenbaring Av Dommedag begins with the classical sample of Dvorak, just toyed with. Even if I didn't like what they've done with it, I can not pass the fact that the choirs are just so awesome in here! The middle part, with black metal riffing and the bell, is a good continuation of the part with choir. The ending, however, I find superficial: the death metal riff just sounds simple and has a "fuck it" attitude. I mean, all the way 'till the end it has tempo changes, complex arrangements and powerful riffs, while at the end it has this piece of crap and 10 seconds of silence just for the listener to figure out what the fuck was played?!
Avmaktslave almost ruined my impression on the album, with its retarded intro and, while being the other new song, I was very skeptical because Sorgens Kammer plain sucks! But it turns out that this song was one of the oldest compositions ever created by Dimmu Borgir and that it virtually destroys everything on a five mile radius! If the listener could pass the "Ave Satani" chanting, which sounds out of place (really), he/she can realize the fact that this song is really guitar driven and no real keyboard arrangements exist. Also, the song is very straightforward, with lyrics having a "dialog" in which the addressed persona doesn't have a real opportunity to respond. Clearly, something Dimmu haven't done before, but maybe Shagrath with Filbumwinter, in 1992.
Conclusion: Dimmu Borgir has made a very good decision by making justice for this album! All above songs are recommended for listening, even if I pointed out some weak ones, but tastes differ; one strong recommendation though - putting aside the preconceptions about Dimmu Borgir and their controversial decision may be of most help in discovering the ups and downs of this album.
P.S.: The Ozzfest concert has only a symbolic value for the band, otherwise check World Misanthropy or older shows, because Dimmu has a lot to offer live and this concert does not represent the band in its full potential.
With all honesty, when I've first heard of a re-recorded Stormblast I was very skeptical. I feared that the atmosphere of the old Stormblast would be gone and a lot of things would change radically. Well, it seems that I was only half right. The album's got a much better recording and lost some piano parts due to the fact that Stian Aarstad had plagiarized them at the time they made the original Stormblast. But there were other elements lost from this beauty, but instead others which were added. And I must say, the moment when I actually began enjoying this recording was when I realized that the additional stuff they brought actually fitted the music and made it cooler. Now let's get down to the tracks.
As soon as you begin listening to this album, you'll notice that the piano intro of Alt Lys Er Svunnet Hen had been replaced by 17 seconds of ambiental rain. The rest of the song sounds like the original, although with some choir parts being fully replaced by orchestral strings. Shagrath's scream clearly doesn't have the same effect as the original and all the polished recording ruined the atmosphere of the original, but the symphonic strings saved whatever was left of it. Broderskapets Ring was fully updated, and I am glad. The guitar is much hearable, compared to the originals, and some additional strings and choirs did not hurt at all. My only complaints would be that you can barely hear the piano in the re-recording and that Shagrath tried to sound all grim while doing Aldrahn's narration instead of keeping the melancholy he had in his voice.
Nar Sjelen Hentes Til Helvete's intro sounds a bit weird when compared to the original. But it's still decent. Sadly, when the guitars burst in to play the catchy riffs they were supposed to, they sound too heavy and distorted as opposed to the rather raw and melodic riffs off the original. Shagrath, however, sounded much better on this song when compared to the other 2 tracks. You can see that he had forced himself to shriek at least decently. But eh, when your voice is ruined, you can't do it as good as in the old days. The piano solo performed by Mustis is neat and I somehow got the feeling it's much better than on the original, dunno why.
Next comes the replacement for the original Sorgens Kammer, the infamous Sorgens Kammer - Del 2. Since Sorgens Kammer the original was a fully plagiated piano song, Shagrath and Silenoz decided to gather up some old riffs and ideas they had in 95 and create a replacer for it. A fantastic song they did create, but I don't think that it can match up with the original Sorgens Kammer. Del 2 however features some great depressing riffing and the choir keyboards add a great feel of hopelessness. I also love the fact that the song ends with only one guitar playing some sad notes. Pretty nice add.
Da Den Kristne Satte Livet Til has a nice drum intro by Hellhammer, but the rest is just too chaotic and noisy compared to the old and raw version. Stormblast however managed to keep the same feeling it had on the original. And even though the original version of the titletrack is my favorite black metal song of all time, its rerecording is also kick ass and one of my favorites off Dimmu. The strings and choirs add the same epicness as before, the only differences from the original being the changed guitar riffs in the beginning and the changed piano solo in the end. Dodsferd also joins Stormblast in being one of the best songs off the re-recording. With the almost real choirs, Shagrath's almost great shrieks, catchy guitar riffing and drumming, and the orchestral string ending which was made much cooler by Mustis, I dare say that this is probably the only song off Stormblast 2005 that is better than its original version.
But sadly, there must also be things to complain about on this album too. Antirkrist was practically raped on the re-recording. No longer you can hear the awesome bass in the intro and the flute was totally erased and replaced with a guitar riff. Poor thought, Dimmu, especially when you know that Shagrath can't shriek on this song the same way he did back in the 90's. Vinder Fra En Ensom Grav sounded pretty much like its original version, although in this one the choirs were louder and added a more epic feeling to the song.
Guds Fortapelse - Apenbaring av Dommedag had a both win and lose case in the re-recording. First of all, its epicness was still kept. And to make it better, Mustis added choirs in some parts. But sadly, the piano and some strings could barely be heard due to the too polished production. Shagrath's vocals on this one were actually good, I must say. And we now come to the final track, Avmaktslave. This song was pretty much worthless, except for the 'Ave Satani' choir in the beginning.
So, folks, this was the re-recorded Stormblast. And I honestly think that liking it or hating it strongly depends on the listener's taste. I, for one, am a deep fan of the original Stormblast, but even so, I managed to pass my elitism and enjoy the album's re-recording.
Favorite tracks: Broderskapets Ring, Sorgens Kammer - del 2, Stormblast, Dodsferd
To open this up, a little background. I love Dimmu Borgir. Their early stuff is completely unmatched in my opinion. I got into them through the great Enthrone Darkness Triumphant... and shortly later Stormblast 1996. Now, Stormblast '96 didn't sit that well with me at first. I had only just gotten into black metal and the mix (which I thought was weak at the time), just completely put me off. I couldn't listen to it, cause of the mix.
Flash forward a couple years later, and I rediscover that lost gem. I had become more immersed in the genre by this time. I had heard most of the more... abrasive acts, like Ildjarn, Bone Awl, etc. So this time, it seemed pretty tame to me. I mean, it sounds thin for sure, but so do the countless other classics spanning the genre. Listening to it again, for the first time in ages, it was like a revelation: How could I have been put off by such a stunning, breathtaking symphony of cold melodicism? I don't care what you say about the album, it had the atmosphere overflowing, seeping from every orifice. I felt shameful, and sort of stupid, for so quickly discounting it.
Flash forward yet again, to six or seven months ago. I see the reviews on this site for the 2005 rerecording of this album; I see some dissent, but still considerable praise. I see people praising it for sounding more heavy and full, for transposing to drop D tuning, for Hellhammer being on drums. So I got curious and checked it out. After all, if Hellhammer's on it, it can't be bad, right? Wrong. I had only gotten through half the album and I was already horrified. Now, I'm no black metal elitist... but I know when a band has utterly ruined their old songs when I hear it.
Stormblast 2005 HAS NO atmosphere. The original had it in heaps, and that was the main attraction of the album, was the thin, cold, stripped-down sound. The instruments sounded thin and powerless, and that was the allure. It conjures up images of a dying man in a blizzard. The album was simple, and the keyboards were UNOBTRUSIVE.
Instead they have sacrificed that atmosphere, in favor of tons of flashy gimmicks; the first of them being overly cheesy, melodramatic, theatrical keyboards, that are so overbearing and annoying here, it's not even funny. Not only do they overpower and almost choke the music, but with their theatric, orchestral sound, make the album sound like a fucking film soundtrack.
Then there's Hellhammer... a great drummer that is just so horribly out of place here. He plays with a lot of speed, a lot of double-bass, and fantastic fills here. But that's the problem; Stormblast '96 was not an album that supported such drum show-offery. As was stated above, it was a simple album that relied on the atmosphere, on the music itself, not on any one member's performance, to attract attention. Not only that but the drums are obviously triggered, they have that same level of clickiness as on In Sorte Diaboli, which sucks. If they wanted the drums to sound so mechanical they may as well have used a machine.
And the guitars... "heavy-fied" for what seems like the mindless blackcore kids. Not only did they tune to drop D, but they beefed up the tone a hundredfold. I don't mind the occasional heavy guitar tone in black metal, but this ticks me off for two reasons: One, because this album didn't need it; as I said, the original sounded thin and powerless. It evoked a feeling of bleakness, of utter hopelessness. That was part of it's charm. To take that away, is to take away what makes the album so great. And two, because not only did they make the guitars more beefy and chuggy, they "complemented" it with a glossy, crystal-clear Nuclear Blast mix. It's like a paradox: They wanted this remake to sound heavier, to sound crushing, but as it is, it's just utterly sterile, and flat.
Dimmu Borgir took a piece of art (Stormblast '96), and completely ruined it. They took a black metal masterpiece, and in an effort to "improve" it, they added a bunch of flashy gimmicks, and made it sound glossy and sterile. In short, they completely went against what the genre of black metal is all about, the "less-is-more" ideology. The two conflict with each other... and as a result, Stormblast 2005 is a flawed (read: BAD) piece of art. Come to think of it, all of Dimmu Borgir's late output, is bad art, but that's besides the point.
Stormblast 2005 is not a black metal album. It's a pop-metal album... and if you disagree, you are sorrily mistaken.
When I heard about this re-make I was worried. The original Stormblast is an epic, second only to Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. Over the past few releases, more specifically after Spiritual Black Dimensions, Dimmu started to sound more tame than ever. Shargrath lost his demonic charm and begun to sound like some kind of witch, and the drumming became way to triggered for its own good.
Stormblast MMV sounds like it was recorded right after EDT. Hellhammer’s drums aren’t triggered to shit like on In Sorte Diaboli. His drumming is more like his work on The Sham Mirrors by Arcturus. They blend with the music and doesn’t sound like a typewriter.
Shargrath, sounds much like he did from 97-99…like a demon. Some times his vocals fall into the post SBD sound but its minimal. Hearing Silenoz and Shagrath on guitar again is excellent. We don’t have the technical skills of Galder here, just simple black metal melodies. The way it use to be…that’s a good thing. Guitars are down tuned, which is one of the more noticeable differences but it actually does the songs justice.
Mustis adds a great deal to this release. I’m not a fan of Mustis because he seems to over do everything but here he does a fine job. Synth is present when it needs to be not during every section of the song like on SBD to present.
As for the songs, some are better some are not. “Alt Lys Er Svunnet Hen” does not have the piano intro but kicks in after some ambient rain. But the plus is that this song kicks you in the face with its thick guitar tone unlike the original.
All of the songs basically follow this type of pattern. Some elements are missing but some elements make it stronger. For example, “Antikrist” has a melodic lead now and fits quite well giving it a mighty boost of energy.
Sorgens Kammer-Del II is an interesting addition. It’s the slowest track on the album but has a creepy vibe, by the use of clean channel guitars. Shargrath has a bit of his witch vocals going on here but it matches the song. “Aveaktslave” fits in no problem with the rest of the album. It feels like a lost gem.
Sadly the following release (ISD) did not follow this pattern, but it was good to hear a glimpse of old school Dimmu Borgir again. Recommended for fans of the first three albums or people willing to give Dimmu a chance despite the hate they seem to get nowadays.
Dimmu Borgir's new version of Stormblast proved to be somewhat interesting. When I heard the rumors that they were going to re-record Stormblast, my first thoughts were, "Oh shit. They're going to ruin one of their few good albums." However, the new recording didn't prove to be nearly as bad as I believed it to be. Sure, a lot of the elitist black metallers were pissed and determined to badly review it as much as possible, but I feel it's time to find an unbiased review.
I'll start with the negative aspects of this new recording. One thing that annoys me to no end is Shagrath on vocals when in the original recording it was Silenoz, who has proven to be a better vocalist. Silenoz had the real black metal vocals down, but Shagrath sounds like someone drowning in toxic sludge. In the original recording, you could actually hear the bass, and the bass had some good lines. In this recording, they just used the age-old method of “the bass follows the guitars.” If they were going to take away the good bass lines, then the least they could do was use Vortex as the bassist, seeing as how he’s one of the few who have actual talent in the band, these days anyway. But since they didn’t, the bass lines remain hidden away from the guitars. In the midst of all of this, this version is missing nearly all of the good keyboard parts of the original. They should’ve never replaced the old guy with Mustis. The only great keyboard part that is still in this recording is in the song “Nar Sjelen Hentes Til Helvete.”
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s focus on the good aspects. The album is clearly not as raw as their previous recording. While the original recording has a great atmosphere, this new version makes it seem darker. It’s not as light and pretty as their older albums. I think that this is one of the major upsides to this album. There is simply more atmosphere, more tone, and more feeling. This is mostly because they changed the key of the music. Dropping the key allowed for a darker atmosphere and a clearer production.
Overall, the older Stormblast is better in terms of musical talent. However, this album has a better atmosphere and better production. Fans of the original Stormblast may or may not be disappointed. As for me, I’d say that this isn’t nearly as bad as most will say.
Let's face it...I doubt any of the newer, child-like fans of DIMMU BORGIR even know the original print of this album even exists, since I've heard reports of newer METALLICA fans thinking "Load" is their debut album...which I'm sure is Reason no. 1 as to why Shaggers and the Erkekjetter decided to re-record ol' "Stormblast", modernized and everything. So let's get the nitty-gritty on this latest work...
Firstly, in an act of pure BM blasphemy, I'll state that the original version of this album never really got me off; granted, it's a decent album, with some tasty fillings here and there, but as a whole, it sort of suffers from Iron Maiden Syndrome (the songs tend to bleed together with the same rhythms and tempos, making them sound too identical with each other). I understand the classicness of "Stormblast", and how this is their "most original work before selling out", but still, something about it seemed rather lacking and, after a while, it becomes a contender for "Shelf-Core Album of the Week". So, I'm sure many of you would be asking, "does the re-recording hold water"? Well, let's see...
Thumbs-up no. 1: down-tuning to D was a good idea, as it made the music sound a LOT darker and more evil than the original print. Thumbs-up no. 2: hiring Seniors Hellhammer and Mustis to handle drum and keyboard duties in their own destructive ways gives this album plenty of bonus points. Thumbs-up no. 3: no orchestral masterbation sessions; I'm not against orchestral usage in metal, (though nowadays it's getting VERY over-saturated), but sometimes DIMMU used the natural string sound a bit too much to over-compensate for the lack of traditional keyboard ditties ("Death Cult Armageddon"), or not enough or either, giving the album a very dry feel ("Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia"), so the two S brothers using old-school, "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant"-reminiscent keyboards is a breath of fresh air.
The performance is also much more spirited and energetic than on the original pressing (which felt squashed, plodding, and un-enthusiastic), as if the group was having a jolly-good time reminding themselves of their former BM glory. Petey T.'s "Abyss" production is also worth noting, as it has been a long while since DB had the Abyss-style crushing guitar tone.
That's not to say this album is flawless (not by ANY means...); despite the present re-working, tweaking, and noodling, the material is still ten years old and hasn't exactly aged well (it's pretty obvious DIMMU's come a LONG way since their Hot/Cacophonus Records days), and even though it sounds sweet and tasty, again, some of the songs drag on a bit and end up being skipped half-way through. Also, the "Sorgen's Kammer" re-write isn't exactly anything to write home about (neither was the original, plagerized piano piece), and it ends up being skipped as a whole. And the liner notes stating why they re-did it, teeming with self-righteousness and possibly written by Shagrath, he of quasar-esque ego ("you can't or DON'T want to know why we re-recorded it!"), is regarded with a smirk.
So, in the end, "Stormblast MMV" polishes the old, lime-ridden milestone for future generations to either revere or condemn (depending on your "kvlt" status). Stay tuned in 2009, when "For All Tid MMXV" hits the stores!
(Note: Originally written by me for Amazon.com on March 21, 2006.)
I'm not the first person to say that re-recording an undisputed classic album is a risky move, especially when nearly every fan states that this album was the apex of the band. (But kudos to the gentlemen for having a legitimate reason to do this, not just as money-making tool.) Fortunately, Shagrath and Silenoz had their heads on straight when this idea ran amok inside their heads. The re-recording of this album doesn't seem forced or rushed in any way, and in my humble opinion, it came off far better than I ever expected.
I'll start with the positive. Obviously, the production is much thicker, and the sound is huge and epic. The guitars cut, the drums pack a walloping punch, and the synths add a nice background touch. Shagrath's vocals are different here, but work perfectly. (Is it me, or does he sound more black metal than ever here?) Moments when the original album seemed to drag are now gone and have been replaced by adequately speeding up the tempo. Much of the CD seems more "active" than before, and there is not a lick of hum-drum plodding to be found. Hell, some of the songs have even been partially re-written, or the guitars have many hidden melodies to be found. Overall, it seems deeper than the original in the songwriting department.
But alas, there are some downfalls as well. Many of the original keyboard and piano parts composed by DB's former keyboardist are now gone. (Many people are angry over the omission of the intro for "Alt Lys Er Svunnet Hen", which now consists of a few seconds of rain sounds.) The atmosphere is still here, and even a few things have been added, such as the choir on "Dodsferd". Some of Hellhammer's drum parts are too dazzling for their own good, though I was surprised that he actually decided to stick to the songs rather than make everything a total wankfest.
However, the good outweighs the bad. My personal favorite from the original Stormblast, "Vinder Fra En Ensom Grav" is now beyond what I dreamt it would be. This recording still oozes with emotion and atmosphere. The classic title track is now more melodic, and the more plodding moments of the album have been filled with beautiful melodic guitar solos that were amiss on the original. "Da Den Kristne Satte Livet Till" is now the black metal anthem that it strived to be, and "Gud's Fortalepse- Apenbaring ov Dommedag" has turned into the melodic yet apocalyptic frenzy which it was meant to be. All of the other tracks are beautiful and will exceed any naysayer's premonitions, such as the refreshing cut of "Antikrist", which has new breath of life in it.
The new tracks are pretty good as well. "Avmaktslave" explodes with bombastic choirs and flurrying tremolo picking, and wouldn't have sounded out of place on the band's debut album. "Sorgens Kammer- Del II" is one of the most eerie things DB has done. Clean guitars resonate throughout the song, and gives a feeling of dread and paranoia. Even though the song is simplistic and quite repetitive, the atmosphere is so terrifying that you won't notice. Shagrath's venomous and distorted vocals sound the most evil they ever have in all his years, and the sound effects in the background make the song seem very vivid and real.
Overall, I think this is one of the band's greatest acheivements, albeit a ballsy one. Diehards will dismiss the clean production and speed, but for those who wanted something more out of the original, this is your chance to witness one of the greatest BM albums of the 90's the way it was meant to be.
When I heard about this I didn't know what to expect, I was afraid they were gonna Death Cult Armadillo this and end up having way over the top keyboards and totally destroy the old sound of Dimmu. Well, in a way they did, but it's not totally in a bad way.
When listening to this, and than listening to old Stormblast, there is an OBVIOUS difference, in multiple areas. First off, just the production sets the two on totally different planes, this cd has crystal clear production, and everything sounds very nice. So that may set some off from this, but I enjoy a cd with good production when used correctly.
As for the keyboards, they are used very nice, and have very good tones, none are to loud, or to quiet. At times they DO sound a little cheesy though, mainly dodsford, where the song is towards the end is very upbeat sounding. But besides that, Mustis does his job, and does it well.
The vocals are very nice, Shagrath sounds a lot better on this than he has in the last two albums, but perhaps that is because there are A LOT of effects used, and I mean a lot. But it helps the song more than it does hurt it.
But now for complaints, I do believe the taking away of the original Sorgens Kammer was a TERRIBLE idea, especially because of what replaced it, which is the weakest song on the CD. And I never really listened to the CD past track 7, because the rest is quite boring to me. Just the same stuff you've heard at the beginning of the album, repeated again.
But overall, I do believe it would be a good purchase, because the DVD that comes along with it is just a nice little freebie, even if it is some of their "not so greatest" work, live performances are always an interesting thing to watch. Besides having to look at Galder's stupid smiling face.
The Good: Production, mixed great, most of CD is very nice listen, Hellhammer's drumwork.
The Bad: Sorgens Kammer II, anything past track 7. Cover art.
I am among the ones who think Dimmu Borgir is still a great band. The best melodic black metal band, I'd say. So I was really looking forward to hear this re-recording, since I'm not that fond of the original "Stormblast" due to its shitty production. Don't get me wrong, I think black metal sometimes requires a raw and somewhat poor sound in order to emphasize the atmosphere, but that album doesn't sound raw or "authentic" by any means. It just sounds bad.
Recorded at Peter Tagtgren's Abyss, "Stormblast 2005" sounds obviously way better than the old version. Not only the sound quality; band performances are better too. Hellhammer does a hell of a job here. So that's cool, but there's also a negative aspect. Guitar sound is so massive that it leaves too little space for keyboards, which makes this album sound less atmospheric than the original one. Another bad point is the absence of the beautiful piano intro for "Alt Lys Er Svunnet Hen", which I really miss.
For the rest, the result varies from good to awesome. "Broderskapets Ring" and "Dødsferd" are among the best tracks: I really love how they sound on this release. Same goes for the title track. The new songs are pretty good. "Sorgens Kammer - Del II" is a very guitar oriented composition which reminds me a bit of the style of "Death Cult Armageddon" in a heavier version. It's catchy and has quite an interesting structure, with some eerie clean guitar parts. Hellhammer truly shines on this one. "Avmaktslave" has an old school feel to it, with some choirs adding atmosphere and good guitar work.
The bonus DVD is a nice addition, although it's a short gig and the image quality could be slightly better. It's great to see and hear Vortex live singing, he's outstanding! Also interesting is the album booklet which contains a few words from Shagrath and Silenoz explaining their reasons for this re-recording. There are a lot of old band photos as well.
Overall, this is a recommended release, especially for those who still like Dimmu's latest albums, but it's not perfect. For me, a combination between the atmosphere from the old version with the sound quality and flawless playing from this new one would be close to perfection.
This was a very unique album. I enjoyed it more than the original, to be honest! Shagrath and Silenoz have both had major changes in their vocals.. the drums were better, as were the guitars. The synthesizers sounded superb! Mustis did an excellent job on this release.
1. Alt Lys Er Svunnet Hen:
I think we all miss the beautiful piano piece at the beginning, but the keyboards in this song (even if they're a bit muffled) make up for the loss. The drumming seems to be much better than the original. Hellhammer puts on a show here, with good pedal beats and technique. The guitars are much more abundant and are very aggressive. It's good to hear Shagrath's talents again, the riffage is great. The bass is audible!! And it's much better performed than when Brynjard Tristan did it. The vocals on this track are performed very well. Silenoz makes an appearance with the first few verses, putting a grim notion on the track's path! Very good song. 9/10
2. Broderskapets Ring: This song starts out great. The main riff for this song is what makes it one of Dimmu Borgir's most memorable -- both the original and the re-make. The song goes from slow to mid-paced, and is performed almost perfectly. Shagrath's vocals are low on this track, some of them almost gutteral. The spoken word verses are not as great at the originals, mainly because Shagrath is, as always, trying to sound "grim". The original, he was just speaking, which is what a spoken word verse is supposed to be. The guitars are not different than the first track, but the riffage is much better. The main riff/solo that comes in around 4:10 is really good. One of those moments in a song that grasps your attention. The structure of this song is beautiful. Keyboards are okay. Mustis tends to use the Choir Ahh's here a bit more than the String Synth and the like. Hellhammer also puts on another good performance. 10/10
3. Når Sjelen Hente Til Helvete: Absolutely beautiful opening. The acoustics with the drumming is absolutely beautiful, and once the main riff kicks in, it's golden. It's hard to distinguish whether or not there is any synth adding atmosphere to the backround when the acoustics are playing in the beginning, but nonetheless, they're good. Shagrath seems to have decided this is one of the songs he absolutely cannot ruin, and performed his vocals a step-up from other times. Mustis is the master of this song, dominating it with his beautiful playing skills during the piano solo that comes in around 1:43, building up the blasts that emerge afterwards. Almost makes you imagine a hurricane blowing debris everywhere, and the piano comes in, it's like beams of light shining through the clouds, giving a sense of hope. But once the guitars blaze back in, Aggression dominates the song for the next few minutes until it kicks back into the main riff, as if to seal off all positive feelings. Shagrath's vocal performance during this period adds to the effect. Very, very good song. 10/10
4. Sorgens Kammer Del. II: Okay, forget the 6 minute, slow ass piano interlude that was on the original release of this album. This songs makes up for it in every way. Shagrath, Silenoz and Hellhammer have done this song perfectly. No comparison whatsoever. The acoustic beginning that bursts into the main riff with Hellhammer doing the drum rolls is godly. This is a song to headbang to. The small "ooh" in the backround from Mustis is yet another factor in this that makes Track 4 a kick ass song. The guitar riffs in this are so catchy, as well as the vocal performance. Shagrath sounds like he recorded them through a pair of headphones (refer to "Filosofem" by Burzum). This song is absolutely amazing. The chorus riffs are sure to get stuck in your head. 10/10
5. Da Den Kristne Satte Livet Til: This track is.. plain boring. This is where the album seems to take a major dive. Shagrath diverts back to his usual "Abbath" style vocals, avoiding all interest in his performance. The guitars take a dive by pouring in boring riffs and unsatisfying structures. Hellhammer's drumming is good, but he doesn;'t seem to fit in with the song well. The song is boring, but the drumming is good. This is a bad clash, and it can complicate things for other songs. Avoid this unless you have nothing else to do. (4/10)
6. Stormblåst: The Lightning strike at the beginning signifies pure chaos. This song is beautiful from beginning to end. Shagrath's vocals have taken a staircase away from the "Abbath" sound to an actual Black Metal status. The drumming adds so much power to this song, and the guitars seem to feed off their energy, pushing the song into further aggression. Mustis' puts on a great performance with his keyboards here. The piano pieces at the end are just beautiful. (10/10)
7. Dødsferd: This is quite possibly the best track on the disc. The Gregorian Chants at the beginning follow suit with the aggressive drums and guitar riffs that follow afterwards, bursting into one of the best melodies the album. Shagrath's vocals power this song from beginning to end, the occasional synthesizer piece from Mustis adding even more to it. This song is electrifying. A definite plus and a very good listen. 10/10
8. AntiKrist: Aside from a few riffs, there is abosolutely no change in this song whatsoever. This is a flawless re-creation of the original that appeared on the 1995 release, and the band deserves a bunch of credit for doing such a good job with it. The guitars are fueled by the vocals -- which are performed PERFECTLY for a song called "Anti-Christ" -- and the drumming. As I said, this is flawless. 10/10
9. Vinder Fra En Ensov Grav: This is a nice song, to be honest. I was disappointed in the original and didn't expect much, but it wasn't too bad. It does get kind of boring around the middle of the song. My personal opinion of this song is that, Dimmu Borgir shouldn't have made it as long as it was (4 minutes exactly), it would have made a better song if it were around 2 minutes or so. All in all, it's good. Catchy part comes in around 2:19 when the Violin/String Synth hits. 7/10
10. Gud's Fortapelse -- Åpenbaring Av Dommedag: This is a very fast and aggressive song. Shagrath's vocals tear you to pieces while Hellhammer tramples you with his blast beats/foot pedal speeds. The guitar riffage is nothing new, but it's still grim, especially when the Choir Chants come in at 1:05. The guitars in this song are just evil, pulling brutality from every source, same with the drumming. This song is worth a mosh. 9/10
11. Avmaktslave: Very good song, the chants at the beginning are singing "Ave Satani", which is beautiful. Then the blasting starts, Shagrath giving a horrifying vocal performance -- and this is a good thing. The vocals are grim and evil, setting the stage for the terrifying and raw chorus the song is endowed with. "Retrett! Du har ie et livet! Retrett!" The blast beats and the guitars are so raw in this song. This is one of the sings that make you wonder about how much more awesome Dimmu Borgir would be/could've been if they had not used synthesizers. This song seems to be the epitome of what modern Raw Black Metal should be.
Conclusion: Ignore what people saying about how this album sucks or how "they ruined the original." This album is BETTER than the original release, and is totally worth buying, I highly recommend this to everyone. Two points deducted for "Da Den Kristne Satte Livet Til".
The new updated version of Stormblåst boasts a very slick production and it is obvious that Dimmu Borgir put forth much effort to make this a "brutal" album. In doing so, they sped things up and lost most of the atmosphere on some songs such as Stormblåst and Alt Lys Er Svunnet Hen. They also have double-bass throughout most of the album and Death Cult Armageddon-style vocals. I have mixed opinions of this album. Songs like the aformentioned Alt Lys Er Svunnet are pitiful in comparison to the original, but others like Broderskapets Ring are actually better than the original. The album has its moments of greatness and moments where it just sucks horribly. It definately starts out bad with no melodic piano intro, just rainfall and a "demonic" gurgling. The rest of the song is just a fast, "brutal" version of the same song with better production. The next few tracks are similar but actually better than the mediocre versions from 1996 Stormblåst. Sorgens Kammer-Del II is not very good. It is slow and attempts to take the place of the sombre and beautiful (though stolen from an Amiga game) Sorgens Kammer from 1996. The next few tracks retain the sound of the originals but are faster and more "brutal" with less atmosphere. Dødsferd is better than before and begins with what seems to be a choir. The next few tracks are actually very similar to the original except faster and without as much atmosphere. The last track, Avmaktslave is very short and forgetable and a poor choice to close the album. It really doesn't go anywhre. In short, Stormblåst 2005 is a faster version of the original with better production, more double-bass/brutal guuitar/DCA-style vocals, and less atmosphere, although it is better than most other Dimmu Borgir albums. Hopefully Dimmu Borgir will stop with crap like Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia and make albums that are similar to this.
the free bonus DVD is really not that great (and probably why they gave them away for free). The band performs like they are not really into it and the crowd of about 200 looks like they don't really care for Dimmu Borgir or metal at all (most of them look like "normal" people and even some have cowboy hats and such!) Shagrath takes his shirt off and lets his belly jiggle. Progenies of The Great Apocalypse sounds awful without an orchestra. The drums sound good though.
Well, I bought this album yesterday, and I've listened to it about 5 times, so I admit I haven’t given it much time, which sometimes re-masters need for you to get used to the changes. It took me a while to get used to the re-mastered Megadeth albums, but now I wouldn’t dream of listening to the originals, they just seem tinny and quiet, but when I first got them, didn’t like them. So maybe in a couple of months ill feel differently about this album, but right now I imagine there is a few people who want to know how good this album before they buy it and don’t want to have to wait. I have all Dimmu Borgir’s other albums, and I've seen them live, and EDT is my favourite album, just to give you some context.
Basically, id say I like this album about as much as the old one, that id give about 80% too as well. They’ve made the album a lot heavier, made the production a lot slicker, obviously because they have more resources and technology these days compared to when they released it. So it sounds a lot more like a modern Dimmu Borgir album then the original obviously. It also reminds me a lot of Immortal’s Sons of Northern Darkness and Mayhem’s Chimera. The guitar tone, the drumming, the lack of real keyboards but sometimes general synth in the background, and the occasional clean guitar. The two new tracks don’t really stand out; they’re not a lot better or worse then the rest of the album.
Now, onto my major problem with the album… what the hell did they do with all the amazing keyboard parts from the original? This struck me as soon as I put the CD on the first time; I was waiting for that amazing piece of beautiful piano to float over the speakers, only better quality then before…. But no, instead we get funny watery sounds and then suddenly it jumps to the fast bit of the song! I feel cheated, and begin to wander weather the other amazing piano bits have been left in, and then I listen on and find out they have also been deleted! The instrumental piano track and the intro from the original are totally gone! These were too of my favourite parts of the album! Don’t get me wrong, synths are used quite well on this album, and if the original had never been released, I probably wouldn’t miss the piano parts, but the fact is, I do! Did they have a major argument over the keyboard parts in the original with their old keyboard player? Because basically all his input on the original has been removed and replaced by general choral synths in the background. I would say this is a huge loss.
So overall, I say my initial reactions to this album are mixed. Yes, the production has been improved, and the album sounds heavier, BUT all the great piano and folky atmosphere of old Dimmu Borgir has been deleted. So id say this album stands about equal so far with the original in my eyes. Like a Microsoft software updates, it fixes a few things, makes things a bit more shiny, but feel a bit cosmetic and also breaks a few old things that used to be good, so users split into two groups, those loyal to the old version which in their eyes is perfect, and those that prefer the slickness of the new. And no, I haven’t watched the bonus DVD yet. I can't imagine its much good really, since if it were they would release it on its own and charge more money for it. I probably will watch it soon, but I'm not expecting great things. I would note that I like this more the DCA, I hope the next Dimmu Borgir album is more like this then DCA. If your new to Dimmu Borgir, this wouldn’t be a bad choice to buy first, because its an interesting mix of new and old.