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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Dimmu Borgir

Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia

Review by Mike Korn

Definitely keeping in the spooky spirit of this issue of MSJ, I turn my evil eye now to Norway's Dimmu Borgir. Along with England's Cradle of Filth and fellow Norwegians Emperor, these guys are the reigning kings of modern black metal, unleashing twisted, torturous tracks full of blazing speed, harsh vocals and eerie symphonic touches. Much like their rivals Cradle, they are packed full (sometimes too full) of Gothic and Baroque atmosphere, often sounding like a Hammer horror movie soundtrack converted to heavy metal. Not content with those influences alone, they now throw in occasional electronic/industrial touches almost reminiscent of Manson into the fray. The modern black metal sound is not terribly easy to get into and a lot of it depends on the mood the listener is in. If you feel like throwing on a comfortable hooded robe, slitting your wrists and writing a pentagram in blood, "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" would be a good accompaniment, but it can be a hard go for those not of a darkened attitude. I'd say Dimmu has done a pretty good job of remaining true to their roots while expanding their sound. They've added 3 new members - Galder from Old Man's Child, Vortex of Borknagar and even drummer Nick Barker of Cradle of Filth and emerged even stronger. This is one of the best produced and played black metal records I've heard, neck and neck with COF's "Midian". By the way, what is it with the long-winded album and song titles of these black metal bands? They never seem to use one word when ten will do!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Fear and Wonder
This is a very lush orchestral intro, not metal at all. It sounds like a full orchestra is playing this haunting tune which is full of over the top Gothic atmosphere.
Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny
The first real track, this is a typical Norwegian black metal scorcher, with Nick Barker's raging drumming already in the forefront. I found this a little typical but it shows right off the bat that Dimmu are not going to stray too much from their core sound.
Kings of the Carnival Creation
A slower, more pounding vibe pervades this track. There are moments of speed and some keyboard explorations here, but overall, it is a crunchy stomper that lasts a bit too long for its own good. Shagrath's croaking vocals fit the song, but I didn't care for Vortex's clean singing at all.
Hybrid Stigmata/ The Apostasy
A two-part track, the first features a rather simple minded classical riff that is repeated too much for my taste. The second segment is pretty generic black metal stuff. This is the most average song on the album.
Architecture of a Genocidal Nature
This is more like it. The opening is speedy and brisk, with a thrash metal influence. It includes good riffing and some excellent keyboard frills and a very nice doomy hook that ends the track.
Puritania
This is where the industrial influences come out. It is sort of an evil metallic march with plenty of horror movie sound effects and keyboard work from Mustis. Shagrath's wicked troll vocals sound a little silly at times, but the track doesn't overstay its welcome.
Indoctrination
They throw everything but the kitchen sink and a couple of bat wings into this one. It begins with an absolute blast of raging black metal. Nicholas can sure pound those skins! There are some symphonic workouts in the middle, and the track ends with one of the doomiest, most ominous riffs ever written. This is a killer track!
The Maelstrom Mephisto
More blistering black metal opens this one. The album is gaining speed and intensity as it goes along. It shows a bit more thrash influence and less of the melodic stuff. It is a fine cut.
Absolute Sole Right
No-frills fast black metal, this sounds a bit generic and typical of the genre.
Sympozium
Some more of the melodic, atmospheric touches accompany this one. It's mostly fast paced metal with a thick coating of keyboard enhancement. It wanders a bit, and I might have ended the album proper with "The Maelstrom Mephisto".
Perfection or Vanity
A great instrumental outro, this combines crunchy metal with the all-out symphonic attack that typifies Dimmu Borgir.
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