Band: Dimmu Borgir
Release Date: 4th May, 2018
Label: Nuclear Blast
Review by Sean
Dimmu Borgir are a band I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with through the years. ‘…Diaboli…’ was a sublime album. ‘ABRAHADABRA’, not so much. So I was a bit hesitant to give this one a shot, but I’m so fucking glad I decided to do it, because this is, for me, some of the best work Dimmu have summoned forth. And let’s be honest, with the time taken to get this out to us all, it’s not really surprising how good it is.
Starting us off is ‘The Unveiling’, and if you know what Dimmu do, you know what to expect, but, this is different somehow. I can’t really explain it, but it just sounds so much better than other stuff of theirs recently. It’s also a good toe dipper for those that like to dabble in the properly heavy stuff now and then, but aren’t quite up to the blast beat fury of stuff like Satyricon. A fine example of how to represent what you do while remaining accessible.
‘Interdimensional Summit’ is a song I’ve made note of as one of my favourites on the album. It helps that this was the first single released prior to the album coming out, but I love how epic it sounds with the choir work. How they make everything build, and choose JUST the right moments to slow thins down a little, let you catch your breath a bit before descending back into darkness.
Up next is ‘Ætheric’ (yes I had to copy and paste that), and what a kick up the arse this one is.The most crunching song yet, and another favourite pick of mine. This one is almost my outright favourite, though not quite. I love the keyboard work in it so much. It just fits so well into making everything else around it work. The symphonic parts too, oh my Gods, so well done. They’ve clearly worked immensely hard on making this album, and this track shows it as good as any other.
As for my favourite track, however, that goes to the second single from the album, ‘Council of Wolves and Snakes’. It’s everything I love about Dimmu. Sounds dark as fuck, check. Avant garde sounds added in, check. Slower song, check. Epic choir, check. It’s all there. To be honest with you, since I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this album as much as I did, a lot of these are favourites, but I don’t think that matters too much, because the album truly is one to be heard.
‘The Empyrean Phoenix’ starts off with some great guitar riffing, and then goes on at a pretty steady but quick pace. It’s one of the shortest tracks on the album, yet still clocks in at not much under five minutes, and the speed here has a lot to do with that. It’s a rawer sounding track than a lot of what we’ve heard so far, more traditional black metal, but still very Dimmu, particularly when the keys come in roughly one third through.
Another excellent track.‘Lightbringer’ is up next, and yes, it’s another one I loved. Particularly for the keys in this sounding very much like something from a 90s Megadrive game. And I genuinely mean that in the best possible way. It sounded fucking awesome here. It’s one of the more atmosphericsongs on the album. Very packed, not minimalistic at all, and it seems that however Dimmu approach things on this album,they strike gold, because there’s nothing bad on here thus far, not even slightly.
‘I Am Sovereign’ is perhaps the closest the band comes to merging proper old school Black Metal with the signature Dimmu sound, the darkest, most evil sounding track on the album, yet still has that accessible, at times almost poppy sound to it. Well, poppy as far as a black metal band can be, anyway. It’s still dark as fuck, thankfully.
As we hit the final third of the album, ‘Archaic Correspondence’ crashes into life to grab us back into the crushing abyss. It’s heavier than the previous track, almost as if it’s trying to make sure we’re ready for the onslaught of the final few tracks. Yet another highlight on an album almost full of them. And you just try to get “Life is the trial, and the passage is death!” out of your head. It just doesn’t leave.
‘Alpha Aeon Omega’ is the penultimate offering on this album, and I swear to Gods, I was whistling this intro for hours after. If they chose to release something as a third single from this album, this should be it. It’s good enough to easily stand up alongside any other Dimmu track you can potentially name as some of their best, and I’ll take that challenge with anyone.
Bringing us home is the final track, ‘Rite of Passage’ and at this point I could talk about how hauntingly beautiful it is, how it’s the perfect album closer for an album that’s taken us on a journey like the one this has, but I’d like to just say that it’s personally been an honour to review this album. I lost a friend late last year who loved this band. They were among his favourite bands of all time, and I’m happy to say they’ve done amazingly well. I’ve no doubt that Mike is looking on from Valhalla with a smile on his face at this album. It’s fucking excellent.
01. The Unveiling
02. Interdimensional Summit
04. Council of Wolves and Snakes
05. The Empyrean Phoenix
07. I Am Sovereign
08. Archaic Correspondence
09. Alpha Aeon Omega
10. Rite of Passage
Visit the band on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dimmuborgir
Get the album here: www.dimmu-borgir.com