Possibly the most anticipated black metal album of the year, Dimmu Borgir's "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" has finally seen the light of day. There has barely been any hype, and the aforemeant anticipation was in fact entirely my own. Be that as it may, the album has been released, and I rushed out to get it.

For the time being, the album is available in two limited editions - one with a superfluous poster and one with a superfluous sew-on patch, both with a bonus track in the shape of "Burn in Hell" (alas no Judas Priest but a Twisted Sister (?) cover). I went for the version with the poster because, simply, it was quite a bit cheaper. Certainly not because of the actual item, which shows a bunch of guys trying to look angry - or dare I say evil? - in long black leather coats with variously bepierced body parts. I for one hope these guys don't take themselves seriously regarding the way they look, as that would make them the subject of my sympathy.

Now for the stuff that matters: The music. "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" is a totally ace album with only one lesser track (the slightly industrial "Puritania") and many climaxes. Perhaps Galder (he of Old Man's Child) can be partly credited with the compositions, but I am certain that Nicholas Barker (he formerly of Cradle) left a major impression on the overal sound. Dimmu have never had a better drummer! Barker is clearly an ace up their sleeve.

While we're on the subject of aces, there's another 13 aces up their joint black leather sleeves: The Gothenburg Opera Orchestra, which enriches many tracks with an orchestral depth previously never quite attained despite synthesizers. Two tracks are almost wholly classical - "Fear and Wonder" starts the album and "Perfection or Vanity" wraps it up. These classical pieces are not out of place at all.

With all these aces they have made a superb album - tight, challenging and extreme, though perhaps not exactly black metal. They kept the clean vocals, which don't add much but don't detract anything either. "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" has many ace tracks: "Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny" and "Hybrid Stigmata - The Apostasy", for example, whereas "The Maelstrom Mephisto" is my personal favourite by a long shot. The other tracks are very good, too, with excellent drumming in particular, and superb guitar riffing. There is also room for more keyboard antics, which heightens the overall enjoyment. What we have hear is doubtless a candidate for the #1 position of 2001's Top whatever!

One things hurts about the album, though, and I really have to get this off my chest. I studied English and in fact used to be an English teacher for a while until I discovered the IT business, and reading the lyrics, well, hurts. For starters they're not about anything much, it seems as if a bunch of words have been thrown together in a way that to Messrs Silenoz and Shagrath sounded pleasing to the ear. Perhaps the sheer presence of flagrantly ungrammatical English makes the lyrics more true (the way black metal ought to be, according to some), but to me it's just ridiculous. If only they had someone like Dani Filth or Ordo Draconis' Midhir to pen the lyrics for them... This (and their outfits) will prevent me from ever taking them seriously in any other way than musically.

When you put on the album, leave the lyrics neatly folded in the CD box, and don't try to hard to listen to what Shagrath is going on about exactly, the music is what matters. And that gives "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" a 5 out of 5 rating.

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Written March 2001


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