DIMMU BORGIR - "DEATH CULT ARMAGEDDON" (NUCLEAR BLAST)
You may call me a nut, but for some reason I have for the past 5 years kept track of every time I played the items in my music list. The beauty of a little programming in Microsoft "Access", I guess. The album that is perched firmly on the first spot is Dimmu Borgir's "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia". I played it virtually constantly around the time when my life was in total turmoil, now in the seemingly distant past of merely 2 years ago. It was an almost cathartically therapeutic experience. The album was vital in my keeping my eyes on the road of life, as it were.
Also, it was Dimmu Borgir's most unrelenting album until that time. They had said goodbye to their 'true black metal' roots (thin sounding production and pretty straightforward riffs) and opted for a thick-sounding, perfectly mixed sound with much cooler and rather more complex riffs. The development of this, if you will, more accessible black metal sound had started with "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant". It took a superb drummer such as Nicholas Barker to lift the band to an entirely new level of intensity. He might not be the most technical drummer around, but his playing is incredible fast and tight. Energy incarnate.
I am glad the band have kept their eyes on their musical road as well. They have, in fact, continued the direction of their previous album. It can be said that "Death Cult Armageddon" is the first Dimmu Borgir album that is not a lot heavier than its predecessor. Instead, it's about just as heavy. They made use of a symphonic orchestra again, which on this album adds a little more of a dark atmosphere. Those who were seriously into "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" will certainly like "Death Cult Armageddon".
"Allegiance", the album's opener, hits home straight away. It is topped right away by "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse", which is without a doubt the finest track on the album, a fantastic piece of music, very heavy with polyphonic symphonic parts. This cut is, actually, nothing short of utterly brilliant. "Lepers Among Us", "Allehelgens Død I Helveds Rike" (probably their only track without grammar mistakes in the lyrics) and "Eradication Instincts Defined" are further excellent tracks, and "Unorthopdox Manifesto" is the track that I keep hearing in my head the most. Most unusual, in a way, is "Blood Hunger Doctrine". To Dimmu Borgir standards I guess you could call this very melodic track almost a ballad, though the b-word hardly conjures up the right associations. A fine track.
Dimmu Borgir is probably not the truest black metal band around, but they are definitely the best in all other ways (except lyrically). At any rate, it has wiped Cradle's "Damnation and a Day" clear out of the water.
I think we'll be hard pressed to hear a better black metal album this year.
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Written August 2003
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