Dimmu Borgir – In Sorte Diaboli [Nuclear Blast]

I picked up the new Dimmu Borgir a while ago, and after a few listens (as well as the aforementioned live show), here are my thoughts. It’s a good CD, maybe even qualifying as great – but not awesome. The Norwegian sextet’s sound has changed little since the last album other than a heavier reliance on the guitars and drums, less emphasis on keyboards. This is understandable now that black metal legend Hellhammer is behind the kit but personally, I’ve always liked Mustis’ keyboard wizardry and am somewhat saddened to see it diminished on this offering. Vocally, Shagrath still spits as venomly and ICS Vortex has the obligatory 3 songs to illustrate his clean vocal prowess, which has become the trend in the past few albums. Galder and Silenoz’s guitar work lays down a brutal pounding but not much in the way of any kind of lead work. The songs I enjoyed the most are the first video single “The Serpentine Offering”, “The Chosen Legacy” and the instrumental “The Fallen Arises”.

The disc is the band’s first concept album, whose story revolves around a disillusioned clergy who turns to the darkside. Unfortunately, the lyrics don’t really build a story so much as they repeat similar themes. I guess that still constitutes a concept album but it’s nothing like say, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, if you get my meaning.

The marketing aspects of this CD are at an all time, what with four different variations released including a very limited leather bound book (which is the version I chose to go with, making it the most expensive CD I’ve every bought!). Alternately there is the US only release with a bonus song (“The Heretic Hammer”) and DVD, the European release with a DIFFERENT bonus song (“The Ancestral Fever”) and DVD, and finally the Japanese release with yet another bonus song (a cover of Venom’s “Black Metal”). I wouldn’t call this selling out, but it’s definitely in the ‘cashing in’ category. Somewhat frustrating from a fan’s point of view in that all 3 bonus songs are not available on any single release. What kind of concept album has different bonus tracks, anyways!?

Regardless, it’s an excellent album that only slightly disappoints in that it isn’t all that amazingly different from what we’ve heard before. All in all, if you like full pummelling symphonic metal (with more than a dab of Satanism thrown in for good measure), then this may be for you.

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