Hailing from Oslo, Norway, DIMMU BORGIR was founded in 1993 by Shagrath, Silenoz, and Tjodalv. Going through the obligatory line-up changes, which are unfortunately the norm these days in any band, Shagrath and Silenoz remain the only original members to date. Over the years, they have seen a lot of great musicians come and go, most recently the departure of long time bassist and clean vocalist ICS Vortex and keyboardist Mustis. A lot of people deemed this the fall of DIMMU BORGIR, but the band bounced back and delivered their ninth full length studio album in the fall of 2010.
Today, the core line-up consists of Shagrath (vocals), Silenoz (guitar), Galder (guitar), and a whole bunch of session musicians, like Daray (drums), who is mostly known for his prior engagement with the polish death metal outfit VADER.
ABRAHADABRA is the name of the new album, which refers loosely to “I will create as I speak” from Aleister Crowley’s Book of the Law, and maybe the album title should be taken literally, because it took Shagrath and Co. almost eleven months to produce. Also noticeable is that the album title marks only the second in their catalogue which does not consist of three words. (I guess one could argue it’s the third, because Stormblast (1996) was re released in 2005 as Stormblast MMV with english lyrics.)
But anyhoo, after the release of In Sorte Diaboli in 2007, I didn’t think DIMMU could get any more symphonic, and gee was I wrong!
ABRAHADABRA certainly takes it about 10 notches over the top. They enlisted about 101 guest musicians to perform various parts on the new album, most noticeable the performance of KORK (the Norwegian Radio Orchestra) and the 38-member Schola Cantorum Choir.
Right from the start, you get the feel that the orchestral arrangements are much more prominent on this album than anything they recorded before. Which in itself is not a bad thing, but if fans are looking for another For all Tid (1994) or Stormblast (1996) they are going to be disappointed.
Shagrath was quoted in an interview that Abrahadabra has the musical feel of “Vredesbyrd” or “Blessings Upon The Throne Of Tyranny”, but here I have to respectfully disagree. Those songs were harder, fast and furious, while most of the tracks on the new piece are done with a lot more orchestral epic overtones.
But this is what DIMMU BORGIR is known for by the majority of their fans, and as album sales proves, it’s a formula that works. Why should they change if it’s not broken? As a matter of fact, Abrahadabra debuted very high in every music chart known to the western world. They developed and perfected their sound and stage performance to become one of the most well-known symphonic black metal icons in today’s business.
Like with any of their other albums, the fans either hate it or love it, but I guess DIMMU BORGIR found a middle ground with their latest release. There is still enough roughness and evil, gritty shredding to kick your ass. Some of the riffs even remind me of good old heavy metal, the smooth clean sound, but then I immediately get a dose of low down tempo stuff that gives the album a distinct, magnificent feel. Acoustic guitar parts are a very refreshing sound, and Silenox and Galder for sure do a magnificent job of complementing each other.
The percussion on the album is your standard deal for this type of music, with your blast beats, and double drums until your ears bleed. The same can be said for the bass guitar, which is, as usual, not that high in the mix.
But, other than that, the entire album is very well produced, and fans can be grateful that it took DIMMU this long to release it to the masses.
The million dollar question is: Are the clean vocal parts that belonged to ICS Vortex for so many years going to affect the record? Well, I do miss his voice and there are so many guest vocals on the album that I have to see them live to make a judgment on this issue.
In closing, it is a good album for what DIMMU BORGIR wants to bring to the table, even though it’s a bit overly theatrical for my taste.
3.75 out of 5
1. Xibir 2. Born Treacherous 3. Gateway 4. Chess with the Abyss 5.Dimmu Borgir 6. Ritualist 7.The Demiurge Molecule 8. A Jewel Traced Through Coal 9. Renewal 10. Endings and Continuations
2. Born Treacherous
4. Chess with the Abyss
7.The Demiurge Molecule
8. A Jewel Traced Through Coal
10. Endings and Continuations
Sonic Excess images and staff authored work are copy written and are not to be used without the written permission of the Editor(s). ©