So, Dimmu Borgir have returned, a band that will likely need little introduction. Is this a case of more of the same, or do they offer something a bit different on their latest album? The truth lies somewhere in between.
Although the classic building blocks of the Dimmu Borgir sound are present and correct – catchy, symphonic black metal, with razor-sharp riffs and a dark grandeur – there’s also a few different, newer ingredients here and there.
I like that on this latest release some of the more pompous, overblown aspects of the band’s material have been pruned back. This is entirely subjective of course, (there’s a full choir utilised on this release after all), but compared to some of their previous material, the music on Eonian sounds revitalised and vibrant. There’s more space here; the music sounds more expansive and less forced. Whatever they have done to themselves to achieve this, it seems to have done the trick, and Eonian has a less-polished, more natural feel to it.
Of course, this definitely needs to be understood in the present context – this isn’t raw, underground black metal by any stretch of the imagination. This is professional black metal that somehow manages to sound more lively and involving than you’d expect. Part of this is down to the recording, which is crisp and clear, but part of it is definitely down to the songwriting. These tracks are catchy and memorable stadium-friendly black metal songs that somehow seem to have remembered where they came from and have a level of darkness and esoteric misanthropy that might surprise many. Yes, on Eonian Dimmu Borgir deliver the goods with 54 minutes of sincere dark blackness.
I mentioned a choir before, right? This is used very effectively, and makes the music quite reminiscent of some of Therion‘s work in places. There are also some Gothic flourishes that you can certainly imagine lighting up the dance floor. Other ideas and creative enhancements are also included here and there, from folky elements, to quirky keyboards of the Vreid/Windir variety. Add to this some sterling melodies and some distinctly second wave riffs, and you have an album that’s clearly been thought about and obsessed over for some time.
I’ll admit that I didn’t know what quite to expect from Dimmu Borgir’s latest, but I must say I’m suitably impressed. This is the type of album that I’m very pleased they have delivered; there’s more than enough of their signature sound to satisfy, yet there’s also enough experimentation and tentative forays into new grounds to please.
In my humble opinion this is precisely the kind of album that Dimmu Borgir should have crafted, and they have crafted it very, very well.
Highly impressive, and highly enjoyable.