Hey, it's Christmas! Christmas eve where I live, but hey, we're in the middle of winter season. There's a lot of warm, fuzzy, nostalgic things that come with it. The snow, the decorations... Stormblåst
by Dimmu Borgir
You're probably wondering, how can Christmas remind me of an early album from one of the big Norwegian black metal bands of the mid 90s? Well, December
23rd 2008 was the day that I bought my first black metal album, and, you guessed it... the album was Stormblåst
Let me explain how I came into getting the album. I was taking a trip with half of my family, and we stayed at my relative's place. I wanted to see the CD stores around, so we went to an HMV and looked around. I saw the 2005 rerecording of Stormblåst
by Dimmu Borgir
. I had heard two or three Dimmu songs, all from their more 'modern' era. I had skimmed over the early stuff, and didn't know whether or not I liked it. I come back the next day deciding to buy it. It wasn't there. We went to another store and it was full of a ton of records, CDs, singles, etc. I look for Stormblåst
and find it. It's the original version, though at the time I didn't think there was any difference between the two. (I now know that the rerecording is terrible, and I'm SO glad I didn't end up buying it. I may have never discovered early black metal). When I'm on the plane ride home, I open the CD and put it in my portable player. And
I'm not kidding, a thunder and lightning starts up as I hear the opening notes of Alt Lys Er Svunnet Hen. Since then, the album has grown on me and has become one of my favorites. It also started me on my favorite genre of metal. I later listened to Emperor
, and Burzum
, to name a few.
Alrighty then, enough dramatic backstory.
Let's talk about Stormblåst
It's Dimmu's second album, and as many black metal fans will tell you, Dimmu's peak album. It starts with the incredibly memorable Alt Lys Er Svunnet Hen. The song opens with a very grandeur piano piece in the lead, with accompanying keyboards adding to the atmosphere. It's very full and very satisfying. Great way to kick off the album. The song then explodes into the full set. The guitars are done in an echoey tremolo in harmony with the keyboards, the drums are varied and energetic, and the bass is... audible. The song takes another deep breath, and then that intro scream from Shagrath... hard to believe he used to sound that good. There are some great riffs in this song, and those keyboards present one awesome melody after another. The vocals come in pretty late to the song, but the space before they come in is just as good (if not better) than the vocalized sections. It's just a fantastic opener, and every time I hear it I remember that plane ride home complete with the lightning storm. I always remember the way I felt listening to it. Good stuff.
continues with another ten songs, most of which carry on the distinctive atmosphere of the first song, but not many of them reach the same explosiveness of it. On average, Stormblåst
takes a sort of melancholy tone, with the underlying keyboards creating a light symphonic element. The album is, most of the time, not overly agressive, at least not to the extent of Ulver
's 'Nattens Madrigal' or Mayhem
's 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
'. Generally, this album is pretty even-paced: not too fast, not too slow. There are some slowere songs on here, (Broderskapet's Ring) and there are faster ones (Da Den Kristne Satte Livet Til), so there's enough variety that I don't get bored. As far as the sound of the album goes, it's evident right from the start that Dimmu Borgir
has much better recording quality this time around. It isn't sterilized and perfectly polished, but the sound is much sharper than on For All Tid
. Those guitars are much more cutting, and the drums aren't as whispery. And
like I said before, everything feels a lot... bigger. There's much more grandeur in the sound of the album. All of these things make Stormblåst
As in the debut album For All Tid
, there is one instrumental interlude. Unfortunately, the interlude here has none of the energy or power of the interlude in the previous album. The interlude on here is called Sorgen's Kammer. It's a six-minute song that consists of a melody on piano that is ripped off from an old computer game, and I believe there was some fuss caused over it when the writer of the original found out, but I will say that it is fitting with the album's sound and atmosphere. It's nice and relaxing, which is fine, but the problem is, it lasts at least two minute longer than it should. I think there could have been more put into this song that could have made it more interesting, like maybe a harmony between the piano and a guitar, or something like that. The melody is repetitive, using chunks of it two or three times during the song. Other than that, it is a nice break from the heaviness. Not nearly as good as Glittertind
from For All Tid
, but it does its job.
So all in all, Stormblåst
is a very solid album. It's improved sound quality from For All Tid
helps it feel more wide-open and atmospheric, and it has a lot of great melodies throughout. The vocalists are strong, but Shagrath's approach does seem to change a little towards the end of the album. One detractor to Stormblåst
is I think maybe it could have survived with only eight tracks rather than ten. There are one or two songs that aren't very memorable to me, and I think the album would have seemed more exciting had they been cut. Other than that, I think Stormblåst
is a great album and one of Dimmu Borgir
's best efforts. It's unfortunate that they have devolved so much over the years, but at least they managed to put out a few good releases before they started releasing crap. I think some may not like the slight lack of agression in the album (if so, I recommend listening to the album Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
), but if you aren't necessarily looking for super heavy, hard-hitting, raw power, you'll probably enjoy the album as much as I do. Sorry I couldn't get into more detail, but I'm short on time right now. It is the holidays, after all.