There’s something particularly bothersome with disliking a Dimmu Borgir
album these days, and it’s something I discovered while browsing the far reaches of the internet. I ended up talking to a metalhead who, after a while, mentioned Dimmu Borgir
’s new album, Abrahadabra
, to me. He asks me if I had heard the single off it, called Gateways
. I told him I didn’t like it. Before I can even begin to say why, he leaps at me, accusing me of being ‘closed-minded’ and that I just can’t accept a band who wants to ‘evolve’ their music. I’m sorry but… I dislike Dimmu Borgir
’s newest release and failure has nothing to do with them evolving, it has more to do with them regressing. They just don’t have very much range anymore, musically or otherwise, and as far as I’m concerned, they haven’t ‘evolved’ or changed very much since Death Cult Armaggedon, although their songwriting has noticeably deteriorated since then, while their cheesiness has increased. What you get out of all that is Abrahadabra
is Dimmu Borgir
's most recent album, an orchestrated symphonic metal album that Dimmu Borgir
threw a bunch of money at in an attempt to make something completely new to Dimmu Borgir
. Well, it just isn't good. Not at all. It isn't as bad as In Sorte Diaboli
, though. That
’s the one thing I think every Dimmu fan can agree on. Thank God
it isn’t another In Sorte Diaboli
… thank God
. But really, that isn't saying much. I can say that Dimmu Borgir
was right in saying that Gateways
is one of the lesser songs from the album. It is. The rest of the album isn’t really very different, except that the female vocalist only gets to ruin that one song. Anyway
, you can tell pretty much right away that Dimmu have gone all out this time around, hiring a choir and orchestra that has a grand total of over 100 members.
How do these extras do in the album? Well, they sure as hell don’t act like hire-ons. The first think I think about them with this album is that they’re all consuming. I could tell almost right from the start of Xibir (and remembering what Gateways
sounded like). They just swallow everything almost all the time. Everything else in the production comes second. They almost totally dominate the music. I think the way they had the orchestra situated in PEM was much better. It didn’t swallow Dimmu Borgir
, it eccentuated the music. It worked, at least somewhat. Here, it feels like you’re playing a classical CD while playing Death Cult Armageddon
on another player…with the volume on the classical CD turned way, waaaay up.
As for the actual band members, I don’t think they’re quite as impressive as the choir and orchestra. Namely those guitars. Dammit, Silenoz, you can do better than that! If chugging was behind you in 1995, why are you doing so much of it now? There are some nice solo sections and single-note melodic bits here and there, but they’re pretty flat. Not only that, but they’re pretty low in the production. I think if the guitars were higher in the mix, even a little higher than the orchestra and choir, a lot of the overall sound of the album would fall in to place, at least somewhat. The drums are pretty friggin good and it’s clear that that Daray guy certainly knows his way around a drum kit. They don’t have a ton of range on them, like previous Dimmu albums going for sheer speed rather than style, but they are still very satisfying. It would be nice if they weren’t so high in the mix, because they seem to consume a lot of the sound. The synths… well, they’re corny. Goofy. Sometimes annoying. But to me, that’s nothing new from Dimmu. Again
, there’s a lot of instrument-clashing in this album. At times it seems like there’s too many different sounds being piled on top of each other, making the sound a tad sloppy. Again
, I feel like the band is taking toomany ideas at once and trying to articulate them in a good way, but not succeeding very well.
Another problem is that Abrahadabra
doesn’t seem to be a new Dimmu album…not really. Although they said they were going for something different, they really meant “Let’s see what happens when we simplify a lot of stuff from Death Cult Armageddon
and stick a big choir and orchestra in there (which Dimmu Borgir
has done once before, only difference is they used a smaller orchestra on P.E.M. The atmosphere just isn’t there, the raw emotion just isn’t there, and when I finished the album I felt like a lot of the concepts of the album came off as weak. Not to mention the production is sterile and souless, you feel like the sound of the album could have come off an assembly line. There’s not much difference between this album and Death Cult… except this one is glossier and less cohesive, I suppose.
Now, let's talk about the band members that left the band before the recording of Abrahadabra
. A lot of Dimmu Borgir
fans have been flaming the poop out of each other about the departure of Mustis and Vortex
. Well, here's what I think of it... there isn't too much of a difference. The synths sound very similar to how they did on In Sorte Diaboli
, and Vortex
, as I said in my Gateways
review, is better off lending his awesome vocals to a better band. (GET BACK IN ARCTURUS!) Anyway
, I think Vortex
's vocals would have been wasted on this mess. His bass would be incredibly hard to hear. I don't think Dimmu Borgir
is better off without them, but if they were on this album, there would be nothing worth contributing. This album couldn't have been saved with or without them.
So okay, the Dimmu album still hasn’t sruck any particular chords for me. It just doesn’t seem that different from previous Dimmu Borgir
releases, despite Dimmu’s desperate attempt at making the album diverse from everything else they’ve done before. Sure, it’s clear that Dimmu put a ton of work into this, but it’s an average album at best. The strings come off as corny, and contrast with everything else that’s being pushed at you. The atmosphere just isn't there, and the production is mechanic and lifeless. Sure there’s some awesome drumming, a cool solo section here and there, and I gotta give em points for trying… although I sorta condemn them for the incohesive way they did it, the way Dimmu seemingly threw everything but the kitchen sink at this album without organizing it… and the fact that I think Dimmu had the right idea buried somewhere in there. This album had potential, but it just fell flat. If you hated In Sorte Diaboli
, you’ll be relieved by this, because it is much better than that pile of Dimmu doo-doo. If you expect TTLY BROOTAL BLACK METAL, well… come on. The band hasn’t released real black metal since Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
. They aren’t even trying to reach that audience anymore. They’re trying to reach the Dimmu Borgir
audience. I think Dimmu is trying to reach a goal of a perfect album, (after For All Tid
and Stormblast) that has a more accessible flair to it, and isn’t as… raw. So far, they’re pretty far off the mark… doubtful they can pull it together.