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Defining Release - 100%

ManillaRoad, October 23rd, 2008

There is a prevailing attitude in sectors of the metal movement that a band cannot be "true" if they become sufficiently popular, a criticism which is often leveled at Dimmu Borgir. A half-cocked idea that somehow metal and success are mutually exclusive.

Nonsense, I say.

Dimmu Borgir were among the first bands that introduced me to extreme metal in the late '90s. Enthrone Darkness Triumphant was among the first CDs in my collection. The band was intriguing, and newly breaking through on the international underground scene. They presented a rare balance of power and grace, able to be driven by dual-guitars or at times driven by delicate neo-classical keyboard sections. The popularity of Dimmu Borgir is not a negative at all; it's a result of more than a decade of hard work and consistency. Even detractors have to admit their musical prowess, yet they illogically criticize the band's business manuevers as somehow "selling out." In all truthfulness, I can say that from observing the band for almost 10 years, they have not dumbed down anything about their music and every successive album has generally met or exceeded expectations. Not only have they survived the black metal movement, they've taken it to a higher level and redefined it.

There is much to be said for this epic-length collection of media. Altogether the music, videos, behind the scenes footage and special features clock in at a whopping 5 hours! It is also packaged very nicely with a big booklet and foldout cases for the DVDs. It's simply a delight to watch Dimmu Borgir up close and personal, performing their sinister craft. It may be easy for fans and casual listeners to underestimate this band as serious musicians, but they consistently deliver one flawless performance after another. Combining dark imagery with a symphonic/melodic assault to great effect, Dimmu had the crowds of over 75,000 (at Wacken) exploding with furor. Musically, the band offers the best of the black metal genre and on stage they blend together everything one could ask for: Melodic flourishes, relentless speedy riffs, multi-part harmonies, a "beauty and the beast" option vocally with the clean vocals of ICS Vortex. All this converges into a multi-pronged attack -- an extreme metal supergroup. A band with a literal arsenal at its disposal.

In the music you will hear remarkable diversity -- this is due to the fact that Dimmu Borgir doesn't have just one songwriter. In fact, almost every band member participates in this duty. Additionally, several of the older Enthrone Darkness Triumphant-era songs were composed by Stian Aarstad, no longer a member. So you will surely hear many different ideas in the songs that have originated from several different composers. The aesthetic side of Dimmu Borgir is rightly a separate and fascinating entity unto itself. And that's a big reason why they do so well on DVD. The image and sound go together nicely. With the band's sizeable budget, they are able to spare no expense on an explosive stage show. Six of the band's most recent music videos (including 3 from In Sorte Diaboli alone!) can be found on DVD #2, which is a nice feature to have and a great way to scare your friends.

There is nearly an hour of behind the scenes material alone. It isn't always the most entertaining to watch, but occasionally you will get a chuckle out of the band goofing around while on the road or hear a funny story from a crew member. The live CD is also worth hearing, featuring 12 tracks from the P3 Sessions. Overall, this new release represents the peak of Dimmu Borgir's successes. If you're a fan of the band or even a collector, you really need to get this 5 hours of material that you won't soon forget.