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Textures. - 90%

Whackooyzero, February 25th, 2011

It may be cliche to praise a black metal album for it's atmosphere, but in the case of "For All Tid" it's absolutely necessary in my opinion. It's not so much that it's more atmospheric than the numerous other classic BM albums released in the 90's, nor is it strictly better, but it certainly is very unique. It's not very heavy, nor is it particularly aggressive or dark but than again neither is a lot of black metal so that's not what makes it distinct. No, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say it's honestly because of the keyboards.

Yes I said it. Granted, all the instruments on this album play their part well, and there are cases where a different instrument leaves a bigger impression on a certain song, but for the majority of "For All Tid" we are treated to one of the most melodic, melancholy, and sentimental keyboard performances in metal courtesy of the great Stian Aarstad. I don't know if he wrote most of these parts, but whoever did, did an amazing job. The keyboards intertwine with the guitars in a traditional way, but while the guitars play rather openly and "ringy" for much of the album, Aarstad applies either gradual melodic development(usually emphasizing the shifting song structures of the album) or complentary chord progressions that usually give off a somewhat sad feel, and in combination with the rest of the music creates a divine feeling.

Certainly Dimmu have never been better in terms of songwriting than they are here, with standout tracks being "Under Korpens Vinger", "Glittertind", the title track, and the haunting "Den Gjemte Sanhets Hersker". The former of which features the best riffs on the album, surprisingly strong vocal delivery, and is overall the most straight ahead track on the album. It's also perfectly preceded by "Det Nye Riket" which has a lush but dark sounding keyboard melody accompanied by some admittedly cheesy "grim" narration, but since it's in Norwegian, it's much more effective than if these lyrics were in english (which is basically the case for the entire album).

"Over Bleknede Blaner Til Dommedag", "Glittertind", "Stien", and the title track work together rather nicely as the melodic focal point of the album, with the former featuring bleak sounding clean vocals by Dodheimsgard's Aldrahn and a trudging tempo typical of this album, while the aforementioned "Stien" features a very folky keyboard melody that's just a joy to listen to in contrast with the darker verse sections, and the title track distinguishes itself with the slow and haunting opening guitar solo, and glorious symphonic mid section. And of course the instrumental "Glittertind" is interesting do to it's frequently shifting song structure and again powerful keyboard melodies. These four tracks as I said are more melody oriented than the others for the most part, and stay in the head for a while.

But the best song on here for me is the closer "Den Gjemte Samhets Herkser" which is Dimmu Borgir's masterpiece. Well at least one out of three (the other two are found on the following two albums), but this is still certainly the greatest song here. The intro builds up to the perfect combination of simple yet effective riffs, gorgeous keyboard melodies, and powerful vocals which continues for most of the track until 4 minutes in we get an almost tragic sounding piano section that leads into a great melodic solo that closes the album off in perfect fashion. I named this review "Textures" for a reason and it is because when listening to this song in particular, I am able to constantly create arias of great visuals in my head when I close my eyes which, though similar things have happened with other metal albums, it happens with much more frequency with this particular album amongst a few others.

The album varies itself just frequently enough so that it isn't predictable, but is very consistent in style. It's a very melodic and soft album which may turn off some people, but it's truly a captivating one. The members of Dimmu Borgir at this time were masters at creating enchanting melodies, and songs that always amounted to something, and would at least leave something in each song that would make it stand out. Whether it's the narration of "Det Nye Riket", the melodies of the clean vocals in "Over Bleknede Blaner Till Dommedag", or riffs in "Under Korpens Vinger" the songs always remain distinct but related. Sometimes too related once in a while however. To be fair, this is also a problem and why I had to take a few points off. The album does get a tad predictable after a while and due to this I don't revisit it that frequently, but whenever I do I never regret it.

When I listen to the first two Dimmu albums, the music too me feels like a reflection of the past atmospherically, even if the lyrics are just as satanic as you would expect, and admittedly this does detract from the consistency of feel, but it's still a brilliantly made album. Multiple textures are present as I have mentioned yet they are certainly all connected, and I hope that soon people will give more respect to this album and early Dimmu in general because, though it isn't the greatest black metal of the era, it's certainly in that area up there with "Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk" or "Bergtatt". Definitely give it a listen if you haven't already.