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Charming - 68%

Felix 1666, December 12th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Cacophonous Records

Dimmu Borgir's second full-length was their last album before the hype set in. Well, however you look at it, "Stormblåst" does not shine with compositions that can cause (justified) enthusiasm. It boasts with a truly impressive artwork, but the musical content fails to impress as well. The album shows a band that has taken the first steps without being already able to make the best out of its potential. Tracks such as "Broderskapets ring" uncover the talent of the guys to combine heaviness with melancholy in a pretty strong manner. The dragging guitars guarantee a heavy fundament and the hoarse, slightly overproduced lead vocals - not the spoken vocals - contribute the black metal element. But the most exciting thing is the short piano line with nine tones that appears from time to time. The track scores with a very natural flow and loneliness and yearning shimmer through every tone of the keyboards (guess my description is slightly kitschy, isn't it? I apologize). Anyway, "Broderskapets ring" (and further songs) made clear that black metal is more than malignant fury and "Christ-raping" aggression. The album has more songs with more or less meditative parts and this facet gives "Stormblåst" a pretty unique appearance.

In view of its representative duties, it seems only logical that the title track holds some slow-moving sections as well. It starts with a short outburst of violence, but relatively mild harmonies with almost feeble background vocals gain the upper hand quickly. The keyboards have a comparatively big part on "Stormblåst" with the effect that the album is not too far away from Gehenna's "First Spell". This is meant as a compliment, because Dimmu Borgir are able to elicit the keyboards some fantastic lines. The title track's break after three and a half minutes gives way to an instrumental section that offers fascinating, almost dreamful yet appropriate melodies. Dimmu Borgir offered their first creative highlights after the lukewarm debut - but this is not to say that everything worked in a flawless manner. Sometimes the keybords ruin a song, just listen to its feeble chirping in the seventh track. Even worse, the band is on the wrong track from time to time. The flabby instrumental "Sorgens kammer" is free from any form of metal, but equipped with a playtime of seven minutes - don't ask me why. (And the miserable story behind the song completes the picture, just read the "additional notes" on this website.) Finally, it becomes obvious that the material at the end of the running order does not reach the level of the highlights which mainly shape the album's first half. Great dramatic moments and tasteful melodies are mostly missing.

The production lacks penetrating power, but it generates an eerie atmosphere that fits the artwork very well. Some sound effects go wrong due to too much reverb, but I don't want to be too picky. I like the sound of the album and that's why I was not interested in listening to the second version of the album which was released some years ago. The here reviewed original edition was the final work of Dimmu Borgir that "came out of the woods", if you know what I mean. Regardless of the quality of the single songs, it spreads a somehow credible emanation. A little bit more poison, a little bit more velocity and a little bit more coldness would have been fine, but it remains a fact that "Stormblåst" has a great atmosphere, at least in its best moments. It is not bombastic, not pompous or flamboyant - it has a natural charm. With better songs, especially at the end of the album, it would be a real classic. Nevertheless, I recommend to give it a try during a long winter night.