Norwegian symphonic black metallers mark their 25 years with their 10th studio album which is likely to divide rather than conquer. Donnie listens in and picks his side.
Dimmu Borgir, led by charismatic frontman Shagrath, have been pummeling our symphonic senses for a quarter of a century. Along the way they had inspired, frustrated and challenged darkened metalheads and critics with every musical footstep.
It has been a long eight years since the excellent Abrahadabra was released and fans of the band have been eager for new music for a long time. On the last album the band went band to their, at the time, mid-career by bringing the orchestral arrangements back to the fore. This resulted in some of their most atmospheric and musically demanding results to date. Eonian in some ways picks up the conductors baton that Abrahadabra put down.
From the swirling opening track “The Unveiling” through to the desolate instrumental closer “Rite of Passage” it is a varied and exploratory ride through Luciferian codes, such as how Lucifer used the creator code of the Ofanim to create beings that were not made in God’s image, and also the illusions of time.
Tracks like “Interdimensional Summit” and “Lightbringer” are up there amongst the finest tracks of the band’s back catalogue. Whilst arguably the most unique track the band have yet committed to record can be found in the five minutes and 20 seconds of the glorious “Council of Wolves and Snakes”. This track takes their experimental tendencies up to 11 as blast beats lead to tribal chants and clean female vocals.
An argument could be made, and most likely will be, that the band, after 25 years of black metal madness, have somewhat toned things down and lost their edge. Happy now to become more symphonic and musically experimental and sacrificing the early raw power and Enthrone Darkness Triumphant II it most certainly is not. That however might be missing the point slightly. Any number of bang average bands can scream and shout, play their instruments as loud as possible and terrify old ladies. Dimmu are a band evolving, there is no repeat to fade button.
Whether this is a positive or a negative for you is down to what you want from the band and in essence is an entirely personal viewpoint.
Say what you will about Dimmu Borgir but you cannot say that they don’t do things their own way. Hail the dark lord for that!!
Donnie’s Rating: 9/10
Eonian is out on the 4th May via Nuclear Blast