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Enthrone Darkness Triumphant; Dimmu Borgir‚Äôs crowning achievement marks a notable turning point for the band. From the dark and atmospherically brooding works of For All Tid and Stormblast, Enthrone Darkness Triumphant focuses on a much more keyboard centered layout with a higher focus on percussive riffs, thus giving the music a heavier, more rhythmic approach than what the band explored before.
The most noticeable change between Enthrone and the fantastic Stormblast is the use of keyboards. Whereas Stormblast made heavy use of them, they never once lead the music and were utilized more for atmosphere. Unlike said album, Enthrone uses the keyboards as a melodic instrument rather for atmosphere, at times often leading the music in place of the guitars; In Death‚Äôs Embrace. Despite the increased keyboard presence the music never once reaches the same bombastic heights as the band has become known for. It‚Äôs more grounded than their later works, much less cinematic and still has a focus on atmosphere even if the main point of focus is in the melodies. At times the rest of the music comes to a halt allowing the keyboards to play on their own.
For much of the music the guitars take backstage, and although there‚Äôs the odd riff and solo for much of the time, the guitars are mainly centered on creating a rhythmic backdrop to the keyboards. The guitar tone is much brighter than Stormblast, having a more polished and well rounded edge to them although they still retain a fuzzy edge to them. The guitars are kept mainly to simple albeit catchy melodies to compliment the washes of keyboards. They never play anything outwardly complex and some of the melodies get repeated a fair bit, they work really well with their simplistic nature and give the album a very organic and natural feel.
Unlike Dimmu Borgir‚Äôs other releases, this is a very flowing, smooth album that never feels rough or awkward. Each song compliments the song that came before and none of the transitions between keyboard sections to more traditional, black metal inspired sections never feel rough or forced. Despite a lot of the criticism hurled at Dimmu Borgir, I‚Äôve always admired the way they can effortlessly mix heavy symphonics with metal, heck they‚Äôre probably one of the best bands to do so. There‚Äôs a good duality between keyboard use and the guitars giving the album a very well rounded feel. In general the music is quite light and airy, easily the bands most accessible release. Stian Aarstad is possibly the best keyboardist the band has had, there‚Äôs no symphonic overkill, just well played melodies that compliment the guitars perfectly. The song Entrance makes great use of keyboards where the winding ethereal melodies work well in unison with the percussive guitars.
Atmosphere might not be something Dimmu Borgir are known for, but I feel I have to point this out; Enthrone Darkness Triumphant is a very atmospheric, even dreamy album that captures the mystic essence of black metal incredibly well. Heck, it‚Äôs probably a good album to show a newcomer to black metal as it mixes the dark atmosphere with dreamy and mystical textures and atmospheric keyboards and riffs. It‚Äôs not a hard album to digest, but it‚Äôs incredibly well done and played. The production is good; often verging on ‚Äúmodern‚ÄĚ but it never feels overdone. Vocally this is Shagrath‚Äôs crowning achievement, utilizing a style akin to loud roaring, he presents a very powerful and distinctive performance that unfortunately, he has never been able to replicate.
Although Dimmu Borgir have a lot of criticism leveled at them, some of which I agree with, most of which I don‚Äôt, I still hold this album to be one of the metal scenes high points. It perfectly mixes the atmospherically brooding nature of the bands early days with a more refined symphonic approach akin to their later works. It‚Äôs their most melodic/accessible album and is a black metal classic, no matter what elitists say Enthrone Darkness Triumphant is essential.