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A Dreamlike Masterpiece Of Black metal - 95%

Retro Death Reviews, March 24th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1995, CD, No Colours Records

Most black metal fans will consider Dimmu Borgir a taboo in the genre and will call you a poser for listening to them, for whatever reason. They usually are referring to their newer, more "sellout" albums that definitely appeal to a more wider audience. They forget to mention that this and their 2nd album "Stormblast", while completely different from other bands at the time, stayed pretty true to black metal. Sure there are heavy uses of keyboards throughout the album, but in here it is to add more depth to the ambiance, as opposed to being too symphonic to fall out of the category. Also, this album (as well as Stormblast) used "Erkekjetter Silenoz" as the lead vocalist for the album, instead of Shargrath. Shargrath instead played drums and did the backing vocals here, which will show you why the vocals sound quite different compared to their other albums.

The album starts off with long but VERY soothing and calming intro. It's instrumental aside from some spoken dialogue in Norwegian that basically translates to "we are evil and will take over everything". Then as it fades out, the first riff of the album comes in, and oh MAN is it good. As soon as it comes to an end, it repeats with another guitar to give a perfect harmony of both parts. Then the drums kick in and I have to admit this is easily one of the best introductions to any album I have heard. I could listen to it for days and never get tired of it. Every part is very well thought out and melodic and is just a treat to listen to. The third track (Over bleknede blåner til dommedag) has some clean operatic vocals that most people laugh at. I on the other hand, feel like there's a certain charm to them and I love them. You will know exactly what I'm talking about when you hear it. It's not the best, but it's definitely cool to hear something like that in black metal. Mayhem also did the same style operatic vocals in De Mysteriis, but I feel Silenoz did it better in here to be completely honest. The next few tracks are somewhat more of the same, but they are all REALLY GOOD. "Hunnerkongens sorgsvarte ferd over steppene" opens up with a really cool thrashy riff, that takes it back to some of the first wave bands, and then a keyboard comes in to give it more of an ambient effect. The next track is also pretty good, but the last track's intro is just beautiful. Oh my god. It has the keyboards come in with a very dark and gloomy melody, and then the guitars and drums kick in and its just absolute ear porn. The whole song is great, but that intro is something I will never be able to get over. I can't recommend the last track enough, listen to it asap. (Den gjemte sannhets hersker)

Every single instrument is very well done, I will never understand the criticisms of people that say this album is "mediocre" or "bad". This is one of the ONLY black metal albums where I can actually HEAR the bass properly. I don't even have to try to listen to it, I can hear it perfectly fine. The vocals are far better in my opinion than their more mainstream albums. There is something more aggressive and dark about Silenoz's vocals than Shargrath's, and the clean operatic vocals add more variety to them. Shargrath's drumming is great and very well varied as opposed to the typical blast beats that most other bands at the time were doing. The guitars are extremely melodic (just the way I like it!) and both guitars have a harmony that mixes the parts together perfectly. You need both guitars to be able to capture the sound this album brings. You also need the keyboard to be able to capture the feeling that it brings. The combination of both guitars and the keyboard (being used when it needs to be used) make this album have a perfect blend of melodic and symphonic black metal.

To say this album is atmospheric as hell (no pun intended) is a total understatement. You can stare at the GORGEOUS cover painting the entire time you listen to this album, and from start to finish, you will feel like you're a part of that painting. Like you're in the perspective of that hooded guy on the horse, just ready to enter the castle. On top of that, the album has this really unique dreamlike ambiance to it. It's just perfect for listening to in your sleep. I love putting this baby in my CD player before I crash, and I always sleep perfectly when I do.

My ONLY complaint with this album is that it feels like it's missing something. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it feels too short? I'm not sure. There is something I feel that could have been done to make this album even better than it already is, so I couldn't exactly give it a perfect rating. But to me, it's by far the best album Dimmu has ever (and probably will ever) release. Though it couldn't surpass other symphonic black metal albums like Moon In The Scorpio, or In The Nightshade Eclipse, I hold it to my heart as one of my all-time favorite albums.

Standout tracks: I honestly think that this album should be listened to by anyone from start to finish. But if you want to get a quick taste of what this album has to offer, then I recommend listening to: "Under Korpens Vinger", "Over Bleknede Blåner Til Dommedag" (the one with the operatic vocals), "For All Tid". "Hunnerkongens Sorgsvarte Ferd Over Steppene", and ESPECIALLY "Den Gjemte Sannhets Hersker". You won't regret it!