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Classic Review: Dimmu Borgir - Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
Dimmu Borgir
Enthrone Darkness Triumphant

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Year released: 1997
Duration: 56:45
Tracks: 11
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: March 5, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Enthrone Darkness Triumphant

Rated 3.92/5 (78.31%) (59 Votes)

Corpsepaint, blast-beats, and shrieking about Satan: welcome to the wonderful world of Black Metal. I generally do not care for BM, so it is even more surprising how much I like this disc. Dimmu Borgir have been in the forefront of the Norwegian scene for some time now, and this CD is a big part of the reason. This was their second album, and they have not really matched it since. (For those who wonder, "the dimmuborgir" is an area of rock formations in Iceland created by volcanic action. It is a well-known landmark in that country. The name means "dark fortress". That’s not really relevant to the review, but I sure wondered about it, and I bet I’m not the only one.)

A lot of black metal bands can’t write songs, or can’t write songs with hooks, but the Dimmu clan do not have that problem. The songs are all extremely complex, though not as much so as on their latest, where they overdid things a bit. There are similarities to Dissection in the rolling guitar harmonies, but the use of keyboards gives a lot of melody and shade to the music and makes the heavy parts sound even heavier. That’s another black metal trap Dimmu Borgir avoid – they never play fast just for the sake of it. Some bands blast away so much they lose the heaviness, but Dimmu Borgir stick with hooky guitar riffs and play heavy as fuck. This is a rare BM album you can rock out to without feeling like an epileptic. Shagrath has the typical shrieky black metal vocals, but they never reach the point of being annoying (a la Hecate Enthroned or Cradle of Filth.)

From the symphonic opening of "Mourning Palace" through the furious "Spellbound" to the evil tones of "The Night Masquerade" there isn’t a dull moment to be had here. Nor is there anything that isn’t just redolent of evil and hate. This isn’t as far from happy-metal as you can get, but it’s close. The reason the lyrics for "Tormentor of Christian Souls" do not appear in the booklet is because Nuclear Blast refused to print them. (You can find them on the band's website, they aren’t really that bad, but back in ’97 I can see how they might have caused a stir.) There’s a hidden bonus track that also isn’t listed in the booklet, and no, I haven’t the foggiest idea what it means either. It’s a pretty standard DB track, nothing really special.

The CD cover and booklet are pretty cool, with nice art direction and lyrics (with the two aforementioned exceptions). The band pictures are extremely silly, with the snarling, face-painted bandmembers resembling KISS action figures from Mcfarlane toys.

I enjoy this album a lot; it’s heavy, catchy and evil as hell. It goes on a bit long, and some of the later songs lack identity, but it remains heavy and very well-produced throughout. For someone like me who has limited tastes in black metal, this is a good way to get a touch of Satan in the diet.

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