Symphonic black metallars Dimmu Borgir return after an eight year gap with their new album Eonian. The title can be explained in several ways; firstly, something that is “longer than an era geologically” or my favourite “hell’s perpetual fires,” which certainly fits for what Dimmu are about normally.
The questions for me on hearing about the new release were, will it be better than the last album Abrahadabra, which I wasn’t so keen on and, can they hit the heights of my personal choice Death Cult Armageddon, which was the perfect mix of black metal and symphonic, where the orchestral parts enhanced and supported the heavier more brutal music.
The answer to the first question is a definite yes. As to the second question, it doesn’t replace Death Cult (an absolute must buy and one of my most treasured albums), but it is the best since then.
DIMMU BORGIR – Eonian
There is no doubt they have decided to go more orchestral sounding on this and use the choir more than ever. There are parts that are very like Nightwish, but, when the vocals come in, you know it is Dimmu, as it is darker and black.
There is one track in particular that shows the bands willingness to take chances, as it is almost a ballad (apart from the blast beat section, remember I did say “almost”). “Council Of Wolves And Snakes” is one of the best songs they have recorded. It features some very strange Norwegian chanting, which is utterly captivating. The closest thing I can think of to explain would be what Sepultura did with the Brazilian tribes on the song “Ratamahatta,” although this is not so heavy in a musical sense in the main. This is almost worth the price of admission alone. It is that good a song.
The chorus of “Interdimensional Summit” goes all gothic reminding me certainly of Sisters Of Mercy from the songs I remember playing from my days DJ-ing in nightclubs. It has several changes of pace and style, keeping it interesting.
“I Am Sovereign” has moments that are in the area of Therion, although again that tends to be when the choir are in full flow. The melody starting about three minutes in is particularly strong and haunting.
“Aetheric” has a lovely opening and build up before hitting an almost danceable groove. It is still dark but is more accessible than previous outings. Again, there are some Nightwish type flurries in the symphonic parts.
Final track “Rite Of Passage” has a wonderful refrain through it and is the most atmospheric piece on the album. The word that came to my mind was “sumptuous”. Moving, emotive and touching. It builds up the strings to a crescendo where it drops back to a quiet and thoughtful and indeed sombre ending. Strangely I thought this would be a beautiful instrumental piece to play at a funeral. A dark thought for a dark piece.
None of the songs mentioned (as well as those not named here) quite match “Council Of Wolves And Snakes”, but as a collection of songs it is definitely a stronger album than the last couple of releases. Some may feel they have left the Black Metal behind, but it is used more sparingly. They are definitely more symphonic now, and, if you can appreciate that and accept it, then there is much to enjoy.
For those who are into Symphonic Metal, but are a bit scared of a band like Dimmu Borgir, due to either heaviness or vocal style, then this is an album that could swing you into them.
A return to form, although not quite hitting the heights of Death Cult…, but an album that is worthy of the name, with the band just about getting the right mix as they change style a little.
It sounds huge, as the production (by Jens Bogren, who has produced for Opeth, Orphaned Land and Leprous, amongst others) is excellent). Live, some of these songs should be most impressive and stand up well against tracks already loved.