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Metal/Prog Metal Concert Reviews

Dimmu Borgir

Live at Ozzfest, 2004, Alpine Valley, WI

Review by Mike Korn

Pardon the pun, but Dimmu Borgir were always one of the "black sheep" at this year's Ozzfest. Despite some strong inroads made in the last couple of years, symphonic black metal from Norway is still off the radar for many U.S. metal fans, particularly the bare-chested, chin-bearded toughs who dig Black Label Society, Superjoint Ritual or Hatebreed. Ozzfest 2003 featured the debut of Cradle of Filth on the Second Stage and word has it that the English decadents didn't go over that well at most stops.
Dimmu had the added pressure of being on the main stage this year. To their credit, they did not alter their sound or presentation one iota to conform to other bands. Opening with a long classical music intro, the evil ones took the stage in full corpse paint and spiked leather regalia, leaning into complex, keyboard-saturated black metal and not letting up. It was obvious early that Mustis' keyboards were emphasized too much in the mix, with the guitars not having the power they should have had. A beefier guitar sound would have added punch to this presentation.

Gary Hill
 
Gary Hill
   
The vocals are to me the most endearing thing about Dimmu and this partof their set was spot on. Shagrath's sinister croaking sounds more like a real Norse troll than anybody else in black metal. He has a great, evil sound,where individual words can be clearly understood for the most part. Bass player Vortex really excelled with his clean, operatic tones. He has an outstanding voice that is every bit as good live as on record and which contrasts brilliantly with Shagrath's gnarly growls.


Gary Hill
 
Gary Hill
   
The band zipped through a selection of cuts from their last two albums before heading into the quite epic "Kings of the Carnival Creation", which mixed fast and slow parts with a lot of bombastic melody. Finally, they wrapped up with "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse"(which has inspired one of the greatest heavy metal videos of all time, in my opinion), which has really become an anthem of the more melodic black metal of today.

Gary Hill
 
Gary Hill
   
Crowd reaction to Dimmu varied. They certainly had some devoted fans in the front and spread throughout the pavillion area, but reaction on the lawn was pretty subdued. This may have been the first experience many  concert goers have had with the lavish, evil tunes of Dimmu Borgir. It's quite a step up from the likes of Drowning Pool or Puddle of Mudd to their semi-classical, harsh, fast metal, but I would say the Norwegians went over about as well as they could have.

Gary Hill
 
Gary Hill
   
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
You'll find concert pics of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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