DIMMU BORGIR - In Sorte Diaboli
March 20, 2007, 12 years ago
OK, this is a concept album, regarding an apprentice priest during medieval times who comes to question Christianity’s validity and his role in it. As such, the topic is very black metal, yet musically, most of this falls outside the traditional (albeit limited) confines of said realm. Needless to say, in advancing the plot, not every track can be a ripping barn (church?) burner. In fact, I’d only classify the first minute of ‘The Chosen Legacy’ and ‘The Sinister Awakening’ as such. I’ll be interesting to see if the Hot Topic groupies can digest foreign ideas, like classical orchestration and majestic soundscapes, or will they simply say, “It sucks,” because it’s not wall-to-wall speed? Internet detractors have already begun down that path, gathering momentum as they go. Mob rules, eh? It’s certainly not a throwaway album, requiring repeatedly listens. As some have poignantly and accurately observed, Dimmu Borgir are no longer really a black metal band, but more of a metal band with trappings of black metal. Not that it matters to all but the kvlt kids (who probably stopped buying Dimmu CDs a long time ago). Like Kiss before them (who the mainstream media and music fans outside the genre typically regard as “a metal band”) these Norwegians are poised to burst beyond the confines of neat/clichéd categorizations, opening themselves to that segment of the music-buying public whose only experience with “hard” music is Metallica, Ozzy, Zeppelin, Zakk Wylde and AC/DC, none of whom strictly adhere to a “metal” tag themselves. The disc opens with first single/video ‘The Serpentine Offering’, featuring a swirling orchestra, dominated by trumpets and spooky chant before Shagrath launches his lacerated throat into the metronomic clickety-clack of Hellhammer’s drumming. Before the track is over, there’s a clean vocal section from Vortex/Simen (used to seemingly greater effect throughout the nine proper songs. Another scourge for the kvltists). ‘The Conspiracy Unfolds’ is one of those mid-tempo numbers with sinister vocals that Dimmu does so well. Some backwards-looped keys commence ‘The Sacrilegious Scorn’, generally a slow track, plenty of Simen, piano and whispers/voiceovers from Shaggy. Atmospheric, symphonic movie score (with just a hint of cooing female choir), ‘The Fallen Arise’ is devoid of rock/metal instrumentation, cleansing the palate for the vicious onslaught of the aforementioned ‘Sinister Awakening’, which still has some audible keyboards. A roll of tympani heralds ‘The Fundamental Alienation’ and even if it comes a little close to countryman Abbath’s vocal delivery, it still works. Brief periods of chant and echoing, electronic modulation provide differentiation. ‘The Invaluable Darkness’ rides a humpa melody. A soundbite of frantic townspeople and clanging bells (as the main character is flambéed) introduces the purposeful and awkwardly constructed, unsettling finale, ‘The Foreshadowing Furnace’. Appropriately, the song dies out to the sound of a crackling blaze. Final versions on both sides of the Atlantic will include separate bonus tracks and initial pressings will be augmented with a bonus DVD and 36 page booklet, explaining the entire saga.