Eight years it has been quiet around Dimmu Borgir, except a handful of live shows and the release of their live DVD “Forces of the Northern Night”. Apart from that Dimmu Borgir has kept themselves rather at the sidelines of the Norwegian black metal scene. After their last album “Abrahadabra” the band finally has released a new album, “Eonian”. Have these eight years between the releases done any good for Dimmu Borgir.
Whether you agree that Dimmu Borgir is black metal or not, they are the pioneers of incorporating symphonic elements into a black metal influenced sound. In “Eonian” that remains the same. The black metal inspired rhythms and riffs are heavier and darker as ever and the symphonic elements of their music are bigger and better.
“The Unveiling”, the opening track, shows already what the new Dimmu Borgir has stored for us. A very dark riff drives the song forward, juxtaposes often very traditional black metal sounds with a piano and choirs and thus serves as an interesting, compelling opening track for the new album.
I personally like the symphonic melodic riff that kicks off the next song “Interdimensional Summit”, which weaves in nicely with the rest of the song. Often this riff returns in combination with choirs and deems to be very catchy, filled with hooks. This riff alone for me at least is already one of the early highlights in the album. The choirs would go nicely with a power metal band, which is probably what you would expect, except that the black metal influences still are a bit too clear present.
“Ætheric” makes a very interesting song, as it shows a groovy side of Dimmu Borgir‘s music. The song starts off with a catchy black ‘n’ roll riff, that reminds a bit of newer Satyricon material. The song is definitely the highlight of the first half of the album.
“Council of Wolves and Snakes” intertwines influences from traditional Nordic folk music, has a very shamanistic vibe to it and black metal. From sequenced keys to a very grim atmosphere, in contrast to the rest of the album the song is quite minimalistic at times, which also at the same time refers to a lot other black metal acts. At the same time there is plenty of choirs and a lot of other things going on, it seems like Dimmu Borgir uses a lot of juxtaposing within this whole album and within each individual song. A clean-picked guitar intro and an awesome drum fill, introduce the next song “The Empyrean Phoenix”, after that follows probably the best riff on “Eonian”.
“Lightbringer” starts off really heavy, this is a song you would find yourself headbanging on during a live show, maybe even bouncing, the riff is so fucking groovy, catchy, the rhythm goes from a mid tempo song, to suddenly out of nowhere a decent switch to blast beats all around. The transition however, is so smooth that it definitely deserves to be mentioned. “I Am Sovereign” is an epic song, the march-like rhythm drives the song forward and then incorporates epic choirs. There is so many parts to the song, that are very layered, you can hear every detail, the song contains some of the most amazing Dimmu Borgir riffs ever played. About halfway in the song, the song suddenly changes from black to full-on melodic death metal. Even Shagrath’s voice takes a different turn that we are not completely used to. Again, all the transitions are so smooth that it’s almost as if we didn’t notice them at all. What an awesome flow to the track. This definitely forms the highlight of the album.
“Archaic Correspondence” takes again a very different angle, from all-over-the-place to symphonic black metal again, with again that very minimalistic keyboards. Suddenly clean vocals appear on the track, which hits you in the face, it’s totally out of the blue, very subtle, but they blend in nicely with Shagrath’s vocals, this little part is the highlight of the song.
“Alpha Aeon Omega” starts with a very atmospheric interlude, which sets almost a magical atmosphere, the song reminds a bit of “Serpentine Offering”, which sounds equally epic. The melancholy drips off the song. The album closes of with “Rite of Passage”, an instrumental masterpiece, which opens up with an eerie interlude. The atmosphere remains dark and grim. It’s that kind of song that would play when you’re in a car looking out of the window while it rains, pretending you’re in a movie. A perfect ending to the soundtrack.
“Eonian” is a dark, heavy album. At times it can be very surprising, and hauntingly beautiful with its epic choirs and symphonic orchestration. Fans of Dimmu Borgir will definitely appreciate this new addition to the discography. As for others, if you like symphonic metal, then this is also a great album. The production in this album is outstanding, all the instruments are very crisp and clear and you can hear everything in much details. It shows a contemporary side of Dimmu Borgir and it sure was worth the eight years of waiting for a follow up.