Nuclear Blast Records
27 September 2010
by Tom Dare
The ever-divisive Dimmu Borgir have, with no small fanfare, finally released Abrahadabra. Whatever else may be said about them, their ability to construct albums of grandiose darkness is very clearly undimmed. Shagrath, Silenoz, Galder and their associates have delivered on their promises with this, their ninth album.
The album title and personnel changes (not to mention the embarrassment that was their recent live performances) have been discussed at length already, so let’s not dwell on them too much. The departures haven’t hurt Dimmu Borgir’s sound, but they do appear to have led to one or two unexpected stylistic shifts. Although things should be broadly familiar to anyone who has listened to Death Cult Armageddon (which is the most obvious direct comparison to this record), the departure of Mustis seems to have changed the way Dimmu make use of symphonics.
Where there was previoysly an almost pop-esque sense of melody – the catchy orchestral hooks of ‘Vredesbyrd’, for example – this is notable by it’s absence. With Mustis out of the picture, there is a stronger connection between the more overtly black metal guitars – which at times is almost Mayhem-esque – and the rich symphonics. The more complex arrangements present a richer sound, and this actually sustains interest throughout the record’s running time better than before.
Watch the (frankly ridiculous) video to ‘Gateways’ by Dimmu Borgir:
Abrahadabra is a more varied, more interesting and darker album than Dimmu Borgir have produced in close to a decade, but it seems likely to prove even more divisive for it. For all the gloomy atmosphere that the ostentatious hall Dimmu construct for themselves, and despite having a barrage of recognisably black metal riffs, the band appear to have got to the point where the “are they/aren’t they black metal” argument is utterly redundant. The band seem acutely aware that this is no longer 1993 and are more than happy to evolve with a splendidly produced album of rich symphonics, allowing the guitars and vocals to provide the bite. That they may end up sitting outside of the black metal umbrella with their own parasol labelled “Dimmu Borgir metal” is a price they are probably willing to pay if the results are as strong as this. They promised big things, and they have achieved them.
Sounds like: No one but Dimmu Borgir. Not anymore. Not really.
Top tracks: Born Treacherous, Gateways, Endings And Continuations
Dimmu Borgir – Abrahadabra tracklisting:
Chess With The Abyss
The Demiurge Molecule
A Jewel Traced Through Coal
Endings & Continuations