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I reserve the right to run screaming at any time. - 19%

Empyreal, December 10th, 2010

You ever notice how every single review of an early Dimmu Borgir album starts off by saying that the band is now crap, but allegedly “once produced great masterworks”? You know, like when they praise Stormblast, which was so soggy and worn down that it was practically transparent. Yeah. Baffling, isn’t it? But what really always puzzles me is the almost unanimous praise for this album, For All Tid.

The music by itself, in terms of the sonics, sounds like typical 90s black metal, with rasping and tremolo riffs and bargain-bin production and the whole rodeo show of expectations. Except here – and I’m not going to mince words – it’s done exceptionally poorly. The guitars jangle like poorly packaged Christmas lights, the vocals gurgle like a cat with a sore throat and the production sounds like it was done in a wet box on a street corner in the rain. It’s just so limp-wristed and soggy, with that mildewy smell of wet cardboard to boot...

The album begins with a synth intro, which I would be willing to accept if not for the fact that it’s 5 minutes long and is incredibly stupid. Listen to those sound effects in the beginning; it’s so silly it’s like the beginning of a comedy album. It’s like a cuckoo clock in a Looney Tunes cartoon. The actual album begins with the lurching, shapeless mess that is “Under Korpens Vinger,” which is sort of like wandering through the bowels of a giant tree frog. The guitars belch and roar with no focus and the band moves through transitions that are clumsily done and poorly written. Other points of particular horror include the worthless “Stien,” “Glittering,” which has an actual decent intro ruined by the band’s apparent aversion to playing with finesse, and the god-awful mess of the title track, which is probably the worst song I have heard in quite a while with its hapless construct of loopy synth melodies and carnival-esque beats that comes out to something that sounds like it came from my digestive system. Putrid, execrable music by any standard.

The band just can’t seem to get their shit together on here. One minute they’re putting out a soothing synth melody, then they’re churning out some tremolo riffing and then another time they’re blasting out punky riffs, as on “Hunnerkongens.” But the point isn’t that they’re trying too many styles, it’s that they’re trying too many styles and absolutely sucking at all of them. Like in “Stien,” where they do an already poor rendition of hyperfast, blasting black metal, except here they layer over it a stupid little folksy melody – it’s just chaotic. Even in the passages where they really do just stick to a generic black metal template, it sucks. The sloppy playing just feels sloppy, as opposed to the primitive, evil kind of feel it gives off when done right. Here it’s just like…learn how to play your instruments, dudes. There are maybe one or two moments on here that create any kind of tension or atmosphere, and those are quickly squandered in the rest of the album’s directionless meanderings.

People will tell you up and down that this is a lot better than the band's recent material, but I'm not sure anymore. This album’s quality in relation to the newer stuff is actually debatable, as after listening to this I’m just praying for some stupid-ass commercial jingle music like later-era Dimmu. That would be heaven compared to this shit. I can probably chalk a lot of this up to these guys just being amateurs when they made For All Tid, as it was their debut after all, but still, that doesn’t make it a good album. It sucks. It’s badly written, badly executed and fails to accomplish any of its goals. And the band didn’t go on to produce anything worthwhile afterward either, so I guess I can rest peacefully knowing that I’m not missing anything when it comes to this band. Fuck ‘em. There’s plenty of better shit you could be listening to instead.