Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Dimmu Borgir "Eonian" (2018)

Its been well over a decade since the Norwegian Symphonic Black Metal outfit Dimmu Borgir were in their prime, I would consider 2004's Death Cult Armageddon to be the groups last truly great record. Since then the bands activity has slowing, their records In Sorte Diaboli and Abrahadabra haven't lived up to the former glory. With a worrying eight year gap between albums I welcome anything from my favorite band but reserve any excitement as it would be foolish to expect them to rekindle the old flames. This newest adventure embarks us on a ritualistic journey through ancient astral lore as its tone and track listing would suggest.

This new chapter been a fair listen, an easy, enjoyable record that does little wrong but lacks the intensity and atmosphere to elevate its core ideas to epic proportion. Further exaggerating what they have done before, Eonian is finely tuned with its crisp and gleaming production, polished to a fault. It takes a real hammering of blast beats and guitar trashing to create anything remotely overwhelming. Instead the record often indulges in this sleek sound with eruptions of lush atmospheres that lean on its light, audible guitar licks, comforting symphonics and expansive drums that conjures a sense of scale with its lumbering pace packed with arranged fills.

Either its crutch or a crux the record continually embellishes many of its climatic and powerful passageways with these strong choirs, often effeminate voices soaring with a touch of devilish mischief and between them plenty of choral synths line much of the musics design. Often its fantastic, on a few instances a little soar but most of all its an obvious progression from a trend on Abrahadabra that leaves the guitars playing second fiddle to everything else. Its not something to take issue with, just an observation that they are toned down by these musicians who used to bring so much venom and exhilarating annihilation through their power chord shredding riffs.

Behind the aesthetics and nuances of composition we have some fantastic song writing that tends to stray towards cosmically majestic and uplifting moments as opposed to the hellish plunges into darkness they would so commonly do in the past. Essentially these are seasoned musicians evolving their sound in the opposite direction yet holding onto their "extreme" identity. It results in mixed feelings, an appreciation of the now more expansive music, yet an attachment to how these songs might of once played out decades ago in a more to the point manor. With lingering elements of their old identity holding on it sounds like they aren't quite through a transitional period, however Eonian clearly reaches the other side with quite a few strides on this decent record.

Favorite Tracks: I Am Sovereign, Archaic Correspondence, Rite Of Passage
Rating: 7/10