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Profane mistress, captor of sin. - 70%

Diamhea, February 22nd, 2014

Godless Savage Garden is a passable-enough EP that serves more importance as a historical precursor. Being the last Dimmu Borgir release to feature Aarstad on keyboards, the band's cryptic atmosphere would take a drastic turn afterward and never return to the grandeur of its earlier damp sorcery. In hindsight, the only reason you might actually care about this release is the inclusion of two tracks that are unique to itself: "Moonchild Domain", "Chaos Without Prophecy". Being the last two studio tracks to feature Aarstad's enigmatic synths, they serve as a bittersweet end cap along with embodying decent B-sides of Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. "Moonchild Domain" has a bit more of a fire lit under its ass, and features a few of the recondite hooks normally associated with Dimmu Borgir's oft-lauded 1997 release. The short melodic tails tacked on to the end of every measure sound wholly out of place for the band, but Aarstad's foreboding piano textures pull everything back together just when it begins to lose structure.

"Chaos Without Prophecy" is certainly the more interesting of the two from a compositional point of view, but this one does little for me personally. The keyboards sound garish and trite, much like the style Mustis would infect the band with starting on Spiritual Black Dimensions. Look to the riffs for most of the appeal, but even they can only do measured damage due to the thin guitar tone. The solo is a nice touch, but there is just not enough going on to justify a track length of seven minutes. The band found the need to include "Hunnerkongens Sorgsvarte Ferd Over Steppene" off of their debut and give it a more modern sheen here. This one always gets called "punky" but I certainly don't hear it. Being more riff-driven it certainly has an appeal, and hearing it competently played definitely helps (which apparently was a huge issue for the band on the debut). It doesn't overstay its welcome, features a decent gloomy mid-section, and resurrects some of the band's early atmosphere; cool.

My gut reaction upon seeing "Raabjørn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde" in the procession was "What, again?". There is actually a little history behind this one. While naturally being an early composition that appeared on For All Tid, it was re-recorded for Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. That version of the song (which is the same as here) was meant to be a bonus track, but due to some sort of oversight it appeared on every version of the album. As such, its inclusion here comes off as somewhat redundant in hindsight. Still, it is an absolutely sublime instrumentally-driven piece with sporadic bursts of distortion. The cover of Accept's "Metal Heart" is certainly an atypical decision on the part of the band, which earns them my respect at the very least. It is transposed well enough through Dimmu Borgir's distinctive somber style, but the constant refrain of "Metal heart!" during the chorus can be very tiring.

Finally, three live tracks featuring Mustis come along. "Stormblåst" and "In Death's Embrace" are obvious inclusions, but "Master of Disharmony" is a nice rare choice on the band's part. Since these keyboard arrangements were written by Aarstad, Mustis needs to do little but play in order to sell their esoteric brilliance. Shagrath also sounds otherworldly here in the live arena. I understand that he gradually moved away from this vocal style, but it really sells the aggression of the material here. As for the live mix, it tends to waft a bit regarding the drums and bass, but is passable otherwise. Not too bad, since the band was much more potent live without a wall of orchestrations swallowing up the performances.

For those fond of the band's sound circa-Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, Godless Savage Garden is essentially a must-have. For the rest of us? You can certainly do worse by Dimmu Borgir standards.


prometeus, September 19th, 2011

This EP was released to capitalize on the success of EDT and to present their newer members: Astenuu and Mustis. With a total time exceeding 40 minutes, it's clearly more than an EP. Even the content suggests a better name for this release: compilation!

It's obvious that we have to divide this compilation in three parts: the first it's the new tracks and the cover song- those that contains Astenuu's solos and guitar playing; the re-recordings, with Silenoz on lead vocals, and the live recordings, with Mustis on keys and Astenuu on lead guitar.

The first thing you'll notice on the studio recordings, featuring Astenuu, is the mid-paced tempo of the songs, leftovers from the EDT sessions. Probably without the solos, the songs would have sounded worse, especially Chaos without Prophecy. The addition of a cover song, THIS kind of song, is another new element in DB's discography. Of course, they've had covered Celtic Frost before, but this is different: Accept is a traditional heavy metal band and not one of the bands primary influences.

Moonchild Domain begins with simple riffing, minor chords and slow tempo, Shagrath is grunting and growling, with Nagash backing him, then evolves into a mid-paced song, with the keys creating an aura of suspense. When the music speeds up, things return to the slow paced beginnings. DB has not being toying with this type of songwriting so much before. Continuing discussing the song structure, Moonchild Domain offers something unique: plenty guitar melodies, accentuated, but not dominated (maybe vice versa) by the keys, and a lengthy solo that stays on key, not flashing around or bullshiting. This is a formula never to be seen on any other DB album, maybe except the guitar melodies that are plenty in PEM.

Chaos without Prophecy is an ugly one, which is much more black metal than the previous one and is more keyboard-driven. It is not that well written, more primitive, but still efficient. Another solo clearly gives the song a fresh air of melodic feeling. Try to speed this song and you will find yourself listening to a SBD song (a combination of Grotesquery Concealed and Masses for a new Messiah).

Metal Heart is quite funny and out of place. Although better than the live recordings available on the Internet, it's only a studio outtake for further proving Astenuu's talent of guitar playing. Shagrath's vocals are also too upfront and, maybe, an gang chorus would have been more adequate.

The re-recordings feature the line-up from Stormblast plus Nagash on bass. Silenoz's vocals are deteriorating fast: just a year ago, on a gig in Oslo, he screamed like a banshee. Maybe the recording and the mixing doesn't make him justice, but it's obvious that there isn't any power left in his throat and/or lungs. Too much smoking and beer! Anyway, the quality of the production does an amount of justice to these songs, as the improved musicianship: no longer can we feel the punk-ish vibe on Hunnerkongens... and the sloppiness and to-slow-for-its’s-own-good tempo on Raabjorn..., but we are treated with much more melodic keys and piano sections and stronger riffs. There is much more confidence in the musicianship.

The live recordings are a mix of old and new DB: the title track from Stormblast, a track from Devil's Path MCD and one from their recent output, EDT. These tracks have the classic line-up of the '90: Shagrath on lead vocals, Silenoz on rhythm guitar, Astennu on lead guitar, Nagash on bass and backing vocals, Mustis on keys and piano, and Tjodalv on drums. The recording is raw, the playing a bit sloppy and the growling omnipresent. The keys are buried in the mix, but still audible.

Stormblast is faster, more primitive and more keyboard-driven. Shagrath doesn't have the power to scream on the beginning, suggesting that proper warming and proper training are excluded, the consequences of this treatment of his vocals will be shown on the SBD and, more obvious, PEM touring. Tight playing from the other guys.

Master of Disharmony feels like a leftover from the Stormblast session, after hearing the previous song. The same song structure, albeit more melodic and containing a solo. Astenuu is having this kind of solos as appetizers. Just to make a remark: is it the production or the rhythm playing of the guitars feel sloppy played? Because I can only hear a reverb, when they are playing the power chords.

In Death's Embrace is the dark power metal track on the album. Throw in a power metal singer from Helloween, Hammerfall or Rhapsody on Fire and you will like it. The primitive production helps this song feel a little more black metal, but the mediocre, power metal-ish riffing still makes this song one of the weakest. No Mourning Palace to be found here!

This compilation marks the end of the beginning for the band, as they would adopt the keyboard-driven type of songwriting and melodies, the mid-paced songs in favor of fast-paced, complicated and less melodic riffs. This is the end of the melodic black metal Dimmu Borgir.

The End of an Era - 91%

MaDTransilvanian, May 19th, 2010

After three consecutive excellent albums, one wonders what the hell happened to Dimmu Borgir during that mid-era crisis that is most visible when looking at the utter incoherence of the whole of Spiritual Black Dimensions and the latter half of Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. Released right before that first crisis album (SBD), Godless Savage Garden doesn’t provide much of an answer: it’s basically just as good as everything that came before it.

This EP contains the staple material for this kind of release: two new songs, two re-recordings, a cover and some live tracks. It’s just that, at 10 tracks with the re-issue and just under one hour, it’s pretty damn long for an EP. That should however not be read as a flaw, since most of the material here just plain rocks.

In terms of new tracks, Moonchild Domain opens up the EP with the usual Dimmu Borgir signature sound of streamlined black metal with a massive infusion of keyboards. This is basically the classic old-school Dimmu Borgir line-up, with the notable curiosity that Shagrath handles the keyboards here. His work is however exemplary, creating that epic atmosphere so inseparable from the early Dimmu Borgir sound. The guitar work on this particular song is great, with a technically impressive and long solo near the end, while Shagrath performs some amazingly good vocals. Chaos Without Prophecy, the longest track at over 7 minutes, is similar in terms of quality except perhaps a bit slower in terms of tempo. Another high-quality solo is inserted in the middle of the song, and the entire effort comes off as being sincere and impressive considering the band’s next few years of strangeness.

The re-recordings both hail from the band’s more Norwegian folk-inspired debut, For All Tid. These two tracks demonstrate the earlier Dimmu Borgir sound as a more contrasted mix of real black metal and more classical-sounding keyboards, made to resemble piano playing as much as possible. The main difference here, of course, is the vastly cleaner production job done. While the effort might indeed have removed a small part of the original versions’ authenticity, the new versions are pulled off with remarkable skill and they essentially remain true to what they were. Overproduced they are not. Of particular note here is the classic melodic track Raabjorn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde, likely the best track off the debut and an instant highlight both there and here.

Speaking of highlights, the next one is just around the corner: the extremely well chosen cover of Accept’s Metal Heart. While it might not have the original’s classic atmosphere, mad soaring chorus or general badass sound, this cover is a great song in its own right. The first thing one notices is that the aforementioned original atmosphere was replaced by a modern Dimmu Borgir high production-value sound, while the entire song has been given a black metal casing. The chorus is well performed by Shagrath but, again, it’s not as good as the original. The awesome leads and the solo during the song’s latter half are more audible here and their performance is excellent, but overall the original still has this beat. Still, the cover’s a worthy addition to the EP and a guaranteed highlight.

Finally comes the second half of this EP, consisting of the five live tracks. They’re of variable quality. The unrelenting highlight is definitely the rendition of the monumental Stormblåst title track. This live version is everything that such a track should be: without losing any of the original’s epic atmosphere or intricacy, the live setting renders the whole thing even more energetic and powerful, thanks in part to the production values. This is the kind of live album I want to hear and the kind of concert I want to see. The other four tracks are all taken from Enthrone Darkness Triumphant and, while great in terms of performance and atmosphere, tend to drag the EP on towards the end (four live songs off the same album is a bit too much). At least the Mourning Palace ending is strong as hell.

Looking back, this is one hell of an EP. Few actual flaws can be spotted here, except for the aforementioned slightly too large quantity of live tracks and the general annoyance (not directed to this release in particular) towards the band’s habit of naming all their releases with three seemingly randomly chosen words which rarely make a lot of sense when put together. I suppose Godless Savage Garden is the least bad in that category, since the idea makes sense, somewhat. In any case, this is truly a gem containing some of the best material that Dimmu Borgir ever recorded: it’s on par with the three preceding albums.

It has its moments - 78%

PhantomMullet, January 4th, 2009

Godless Savage Garden is one of the better Dimmu Borgir releases and it serves as a smooth transition to the albums Enthrone Darkness Triumphant and Spiritual Black Dimensions. So if you found either of those two albums decent, then you'll probably like this one.

Whether you hate this band or love it, Godless Savage Garden (GSG) is at least a pretty strong EP with a few things to offer. There are two brand new songs, a cover song from an old heavy metal band Accept, two re-releases and remasters of songs from the debut, and three live recordings. So you get a pretty mixed bag here.

The two originals here, Moonchild Domain and Chaos Without Prophecy are some of the better Dimmu Borgir songs in general. Both have a killer atmosphere that isn't ruined too much by Shagrath's occasionally silly sounding vocals witnessed on other Dimmu Borgir albums. Moonchild Domain actually has pretty solid vocals that give a harsh, cold, and hateful vibe to the music. It's also one of the more catchier songs with haunting piano passages mixed with a bit of heaviness. Chaos Without Prophecy is a slower song that gives a very ugly sounding atmosphere not really noticed on EDT and SBD. It may drag on a bit, but even so it just adds more to the atmosphere. The keyboards are unfortunately a little cheesy sometimes in that track, as well.

Raabjorn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde and Hunnerkongens Sorgsvarte Ferd Over Steppene sound great on this version. The foggy atmosphere from For All Tid may not be there, but the mood and style behind each piece is brought out even better thanks to the improved production. Actually, I'll take this version of Hunnerkongens over the original any day.

Metal Heart is a catchy piece and Dimmu Borgir do a great job with the keyboards to add more atmosphere compared to the original Accept version. The long, lead guitar part in the beginning still sounds incredible. The only issue here is when Shagrath occasionally shrieks "Metal Heart!!" over and over; it just gets fairly annoying after a while.

Then there's the 3 live recordings at the end of the release. All three songs sound okay live, nothing spectacular though. The live version of Stormblast is probably the worst because it lacks the feeling of the album version (as well as the beautiful keyboard parts). It also sounds too heavy here. Master of Disharmony and In Death's Embrace are passable as something more than filler because the heaviness in those songs doesn't sound so awkward.

If pre-2000 Dimmu Borgir intrigues you, or you want to hear some melodic, although slightly heavy metal with blackened vocals, then Godless Savage Garden is definitely worth a listen.

One of the best Borgir releases - 73%

Scizzgoth, January 22nd, 2006

It is only the job of poseurs to look down on the work of a band and call it names because of a certain sound, that at it's time was very original and inspiring; regardless of how certain circles within the black metal thought of it.

Dimmu Borgir are one of the most talented bands around, and they have been producing good music for a long while. But while their good music now is simply based off formulas and has somewhat lost any of its feeling, there was a time back in Stormblast, Enthrone Darkness Triumhpant and Godless Savage Garden when Dimmu Borgir were doing something exceptionally good.

I don't want to get into the unnecessary details. You know what to expect in terms of execution. This is very technical, well played and produced melodic/majestic black metal, like their good old sound was. So I will instead focus on the song-writing and the atmosphere which is what makes this one of their best releases, and possible one of the best genre by far.

The best thing about this release is that it manages to combine a fairly interesting rock n roll sound (in terms of riff work and the approach to the guitars) with what already established as "their" sound in Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. It manages to become a wonderful addition to their roster, that was almost immaculate at the time, without being repetitive. Moonchild Domain is going to remind of Rotting Christ's mid-era, and off course Enthrone Darkness Triumhpant. Hunnerkogen, when played again, becomes one of their best songs ever, with a distinct Satyricon feeling, amazing vocal work and some of the most headcrushing riffs. The rest of the songs follow in either category, with some of the best leads and solos, a very distinct Arcturus alike feeling and lots of moments to make you bang your head around.

Even if you don't like Dimmu Borgir, based on their recent sound, or you are stuck to their earlier Stormblast manifestations, you should still check out this EP. In the very end, even if you end up hating it, you can still listen to a fantastic show execution of Stormblast and have your fix!

Dimmu Borgir Part 5: Onward with Orchestration - 70%

Shadow0fDeath, September 7th, 2004

Dimmu Borgir's second EP, and 6th(?) release (excluding the live video), Godless Savage Garden, is the crossing point between the symphonic black metal of For All Tid, and Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. To the more traditional heavy metal sound. This hybrid is very reminding of the tracks i have heard on later releases such as Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. With the traditional metal and semi clean vocals, to the typical weak snarls of shagrath on this release it is far dissapointing compared to their previous effort, Enthrone Darkness Triumphant.

The guitars are a lot more polished and technical in a traditional sense of thrash and old school metal. Not as symphonic black metal, excluding the opening song Chaos Without Prophecy, a track with heavy orchestration and more black metal feeling to it than the rest of the EP.

Speaking of Orchestration it was quite beautiful on this album. Not as cheesy as other Dimmu Borgir releases, and expressed gloriously as the music starts to speak for itself on this album. Dimmu Borgir are definately pioneering and continuing to experiment as they progress back and forth and avoid the typical mistakes from Stormblåst.

The EP also includes 3 live tracks. I didn't care for them all. It was pretty out of place to include those on this EP. It's just annoying filler.

The most diverse track is Metal Heart. A pure traditional metal piece giving a more older feeling to metal on an album overflowing to the brim with typical symphonic black metal.

This release isn't that bad, but could have been a lot better. I dislike the attempts to add atmosphere using keyboards on this release, and feel dimmu borgir should throw in a new approach to their sound. It's nothing new for dimmu borgir, but alas a link to the next step in their musical evolution as the band begins to sound more established as compared to the first album, For all Tid. A very decent pick for a Dimmu Borgir fan!

Surprisingly good for a gap filler - 82%

Lord_Jotun, January 16th, 2004

In 1998, Dimmu Borgir were busy touring and collecting unanimous praise for their recent achievemnts, namely the release of one of 1997's most heralded albums ("Enthone Darkness Triumphant") an dthe subsequent live stints and appearances as renowned Metal festivals such as Wacken Open Air and With Full Force. As a consequence, the demand for new material (despite Nuclear Blast's re-release of the band's cult debut "For All Tid") started to become overpowering, but the time had not come yet for a new album, so "Godless Savage Garden" was released instead: a lengthy EP of unreleased and unusual material to appease the fans' ever growing appetite.
Basically, GSG consists of two newly recorded tracks, two choice cuts from "For All Tid" re-recorded during the EDT sessions, a cover song and three live songs. A mixed bag indeed, yet the overall quelity of the music made it a highly interesting release, eventually gaining the band a nomination for the Best Metal Award at the 1998 edition of the Spellemans Prisen (a kind of Norwegian Grammy Award).

The fan's interest immediately goes to the newly recorded tracks, as they were the only post-EDT material available at the time (although songs from the next album would start sneaking their way into live appearances and compilations not long afterwards), and therefore the only hint at the band's new direction. They indeed sound very different from anything the band had done up to that point, but neither they bear any rlation with what would follow. The album opener, "Moonchild Domain", starts with a heavy and ominous riff, which n turn gives way to more groovy sections (great double bass drumming by Tjodalv there) which also incorporate some solos, which represents Astennu first appearance on a Dimmu Borgir studio recording. The keyboards play a much more background role than on EDT, partly because of the song's structure an dpartly because the band had no keyboarder at the time, as the two new songs were recorded between Stian Aarstad's departure and Mustis's joining, so the band members had to fix it by themselves, and the final result is pretty good anyway. To this day, Dimmu have never put out anything similar to this song, and judging from the recent direction they had turned towards, probably never will.
"Chaos Without Prophecy" is even more slow-paced and Doom Metallish in its approach, with the only hints of dynamic variations relying mostly on Tjodalv's double kick; the keyboards here are more promiment and fit the apocalyptic atmosphere of the song. Once again, this is a very unusual and interesting song to listen to, but compared to "Moonchild Domain" tends to lack variety and drag on a bit, especially in the middle section where the speed becomes even slower.

The two re-recorded songs were bound to cause mixed feelings among long-time followers from the start, and indeed they did. One of them, "Raabjørn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde", had already appeared as a bonus track on the digipack version of EDT and as uncredtited track on the standard version too, so its inclusion here seemed a bit unnecessary; it is, however, one of the best songs to represent Dimmu's early days, and the ominous yet enchanting atmosphere of the original is preserved quite faithfully and enhanced by a great piano line added in the chorus which fits perfectly, while the heavy guitars add an extra dose of cutting edge. Remarkably, Silenoz performs the vocals on this one, as he used to be Dimmu's vocalist in the old days, and his performance isn't bad at all.
"Hunnerkongen Sorgsvarte Ferd over Steppene" didn't turn out equally good: the more tight playing and better production adds an extra dose of crunch which may fit the first half of the song (one of the only quasi-fast moments on the whole "For All Tid" album), but the whole affair becomes way too noisy and completely destroys the great atmosphere of the original. Things become slightly better in the second half, with some nice synths added in the background, but then again that superb clean guitar part which comes in during the "Attila, hunnernes konge" verse is completely drowned out by the oversaturated instrumentation. Good performance, but I prefer the slower, simpler and entrancing original.
The studio part of GSG is closed by a cool Accept cover, "Metal Heart"; thi song is damn catchy and has some really cool guitar work going on (check out the middle break). The chorus has also a funny effect, with Shagrath growling and Nagash miming Udo's high pitched voice at the same time. Not necessarily outstanding, but very well done anyway.

The three live songs are what makes GSG a great addition for any Dimmu fan. Recorded live in Poland (apparently during the band's first show with Mustis on keyboards), they really capture the band's raw energy on stage of those days. The set kicks off with "Stormblåst", the title track of the band's celebrated second album; the slightly unpolished live sound an dthe band's relentless performance add a great edge of aggressiveness to an already memorable track. The sounds o fthese recordings is VERY good: it's raw and aggressive, but you can namke out everything that's going on; maybe the keyboards might have been turned up a bit, but on the other hand, the guitars sound great and those drums fucking pound, and the vocals are very strong too (by the way: those are not overdubs, it's Nagash doing backing vocals).
The song ends and the band immediately blasts off into "Master of Disharmony", another song which was beginning to become overused (it had already appeared on "Devil's Path" and was later re-recorded for EDT) but still a natural choice for the live environment due to its exhuberant melodic aggression and catchy guitar work.
GSG finishes with a razor-sharp rendition of the EDT favourite "In Death's Embrace", which is performed even a bit faster than the original (you just have to compare the two versions: this one is shorter!) and comes out as nothing short of impressive, although the great piano lines are barely audible.

Overall, this little offering stands on its own as an interesting addition to anyone's Dimmu Borgir collection. It's definitely not an ideal introduction to the band, as the studio tracks don't really represent what Dimmu are all about, but well worth having rather than any other blatant cash grabber, especially for that triple live shot at the end.