Dimmu Borgir - _Death Cult Armageddon_
(Nuclear Blast, 2003)
by: Jackie Smit (
Whether your opinion of Norway's premier second generation black metal band is that of unbridled adoration or you happen to be one of those individuals who have posted snide remarks about them being a black metal boy band on various message boards across the Internet, one should at the very least give them credit for gaining success on their own terms. While some saw 1997's breakthrough effort _Enthrone Darkness Triumphant_ as an attempt to copy Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir were the first of the two to begin experimenting with a full-blown orchestra -- used to great effect on 2001's stunning _Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia_ -- and where the aforementioned Brits' music has been progressively watered down to the point where Marilyn Manson arguably sounds more menacing, Dimmu Borgir have steadily been polishing their songwriting skills and technical proficiency to the point where one would not have expected any less than what they have offered us with their latest effort.Disappointingly _Death Cult Armageddon_ does not offer the same progression and depth as its predecessor, rather a slicker and more tightly assembled version thereof. Sure, the orchestral element has been taken to a new level, but the daring and challenging approach that made even their detractors sit up and take notice is relatively absent. Which is not to say that _Death Cult Armageddon_ is not a satisfying album in its own right. Opening track "Allegiance" is absolutely stunning, with more than a slight nod to rawer early-nineties black metal acts, which no doubt rank high on the Borgir list of influences. The full majestic impact of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra is prevalent in all its epic glory on "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse", while the record's dark, apocalyptic atmosphere is vividly brought to life by the intelligent use of samples and enhanced by the mechanistic, uber-tight drumming of Nick Barker, most clearly defined by the album's ultimate highlight, "Unorthodox Manifesto". The record even sees the band returning to their native language on "Vredesbyrd" and the breathtaking "Allehelgens Dod I Helveds Rike".Yet, for all their songwriting finesse and ample technical skill, _Death Cult Armageddon_ does not have the same immediate impact as _Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia_, nor does it have the same chilling atmosphere as _Enthrone Darkness Triumphant_. And ultimately one can not help but draw the conclusion that more will be expected from the Norwegians next time round.
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