Dimmu Borgir - _In Sorte Diaboli_
(Nuclear Blast, 2007)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (
I have been stewing on this one for over a month now. For me, Dimmu Borgir has been an on/off band. Some of their releases were very good, some not so much. With this band, I tend to favour songs rather than albums, and generally I find their releases to suffer considerably with age. Yet they have single-handedly managed to progress the black metal genre considerably and make it more popular and widespread in the not so underground circles. Probably for the above two reasons, Dimmu Borgir have been controversial and always under polarised audiences.Musically, the new album is closer to _Spiritual Black Dimensions_ than any of their previous efforts. The keyboards and orchestrations have been toned down considerably, and the drums have returned to a less frantic pace and are definitely less prominent in the mix. Personally I liked Barker's inhuman and in your face drumming in the last couple of Dimmu releases, if only because it made the album a bit more interesting. Stylistically, it also reminds me quite a lot of early Covenant. "The Invaluable Darkness" could easily have been lifted from _Nexus Polaris_, for example. _In Sorte Diaboli_ is also a concept album, dealing with (gasp) religious and (anti-)Christian sentiments and story arcs. Nothing to really perk your interest, and I would rather bands created "concept" albums when they actually had something different to say -- or at least structure the music, lyrics and tracks in such a way that at least tries to convey a concept.With their ever rotating doors, the only creative members have dwindled down to the core duo of Shagrath and Silenoz. Surprisingly, they manage to pull out probably the band's most coherent and tight album for some time now. Hellhammer takes over the drums from Barker, and the difference in style is glaringly obvious -- for better or worse. He is a great drummer, but could we have a bit more variety from band to band, please? ICS Vortex is once again terribly underused in the clean vocals department, but at least he is still here, as his contribution is more than welcome in light of milder orchestration and fewer choir intersections.Not many tracks stand out, but I could mention "The Sinister Awakening" for the great riffs and intriguing violin as well as the calm and oriental sounding "The Fallen Arises", breaking the pace halfway through the album. _In Sorte Diaboli_ -does- grow on you with repeated listens, which I found rather surprising. Indeed, with the first ten or so spins, I was ready to shrug the album off; but then it clicked a bit more with me, even to the point of appreciating it for what it offers. I am curious as to how well this one will age and how often I will pick it up to willingly sit through and enjoy it. If you have always been a fan, there is nothing I could say to change your opinion; for the cautious amongst you, I would recommend a few spins to make up your own mind.
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