DIMMU BORGIR – Abrahadabra – first impression on song-by-song
(…this article is in English…)
August 2010 was when Silenoz, guitarist and lyricist of Dimmu Borgir, was kind enough to invite Eternal Terror’s Paul Kearns and Roy Krisensen to his home to get a sneak advance listen to the forthcoming "Abrahadabra" full length from Dimmu Borgir, their eighth.
As we settled ourselves into the sofas and Silenoz set about getting us the finest sound he could, ears were poised at the ready and phones were switched off to ensure good behaviours all around.
So, welcome to "Abrahadabra"
"Xibir" – opens the album as a brooding orchestral introduction before….
"Born Tracherous" – opens with what could almost be called a staggered beginning before we enter more familiar Dimmu territory. Thick is finally a word that can be applied to the Dimmu drumsound. Heavily choired and classic Dimmu sounding whilst being spliced with some choiral breaks and introducing some fantastic female vocals (more to come on that). The Devil Doll-ish mid-section is something we haven’t heard previously on their albums. It surely makes a difference!
"Gateways" – You have probably all been online by now watching as the video has been officially released. This is Dimmu sounding big, employing much in the way of orchestration and some subtle choirs. Still in the realm of Extreme Metal naturally but with surprisingly few guitars. Much stop/start dampened riffing all beautifully rounded by the awesome vocals courtesy of Agnete Maria Kjølsrud, known mostly as the woman behind Animal Alpha. Her vocals here are something to make a headbanger re-think their impression of female vocals if that opinion had previously been less than positive.
"Chess With The Abyss" – Quite a huge beginning sees a Shagrath vocal passage spliced with heavily layered/choral vocals. Again, massive use of orchestration. Huge, huge sound and those vocals bring to mind something along the lines of Jerry Goldsmith’s "The Omen"-soundtrack. Nice lead rhythm guitar riffing rounds off another track that leaves me feeling that things are more than business as usual in the Dimmu camp despite the recent upheavals.
"Dimmu Borgir" – as a track itself it is a move I would not have predicted. We mentioned in our video interview with Silenoz that seems a definite call to arms with the core of the band meaning to let folk know the soul of the band remains very much intact. Europop vocal beginning? That’s what sprung to mind for me and it works extremely well. This all continues, those brilliant vocals…, those of the female sort, layered and just so effective. The song itself is a lesson in hooks…, whether it be the fantastically catchy keyboard riff or the almost Doom riff that leads into one of those hooks makeing you realise the band’s mass appeal (madness). All followed by a sudden change in tactics and the songs rests itself in classic Dimmu territory for those who wither at the thought of change.
"Ritualist" – More straight forward headbanger from an opening which features acoustic guitar.
It is here that the now ousted Snowy Shaw makes his presence truly known. Indeed a successor close to, if not truly, worthy for the departed ICS Vortex. Overall this tune is more straight forward and catchy in a more rhythmic and simplistic manner.
"The Demiurge Molecule" – More dampened string riffing in unison with double bass gallops. Big orchestral drones in the chorus over into fluid and tame fast picking riffs, again something that the more traditional Dimmu Borgir fan can find comfort in. Special mention goes to the chorus where the aforementioned droned male vocals are backed with splendid results by rather huge orchestration.
"A Jewel Traced Through Coal" – BIG start that leads into a rather brutal passage. Tight angular riffing follows into mid paced territory with some very interesting drumming. And again we have the older Dimmu sound with some heavily layered extreme vocals that stand side by side with those mentioned "The Omen"-soundtrack type of vocals – truly an effect that lifts this album. This track ends in a huge crescendo. You get what you pay for, eh lads?
"Renewal" – It’s all in the title here. Take a really great catchy riff about 20 secs into the song that leads into a very old school solo part and then breaks off into a Devil Doll psycho bit. Shagrath is a known fan of this musical insanity so it figures I suppose. Nice middle passage that again employs the almost start/stop dampened string approach into an absolutely fantastic clean male vocal that I would be able to name as the chorus if my notes were better,
"Endings and Continuations" – Killer keyboard riff after the song kicks in properly. Really, really basic and really, really catchy. Fantastic clean male vocals again, rumoured to be sung by none other than Garm. Sounds like a Dimmu classic and in fact almost makes me think of "Spiritual Black Dimensions" in that it had an absolute album highlight and future Dimmu classic as its closing song in "Arcane Lifeforce Mysteria".
They have made instrumental versions of at least three tracks, but the two we got to listen to were Deep Purple’s "Perfect Strangers" and G.G.F.H.’s "Dead Men Don’t Rape".
Snowy Shaw did the main vocals for "Perfect Strangers". To these ears he proves that he’s not capable of leading such a song. He tries to be theatrical but ends up being too much. The original song is a classic, no doubt, and even though Dimmu adds the symphonic aspect to the hard rocker, Mr. Shaw’s vocal work alienates this song and I’m not really sure there’s any use listening to this song again. Let Jørn Lande sing hard rock covertracks, thank you.
The version we know from the single "Reality" is the band’s best, while the remixed "Disease"-adaption is close enough. Witnessing a symphonic extreme metal band recapturing the electronic harshness from 1992/1993 was like "huh, can this really be?". Silenoz was curious on our view, but regret for a few minutes that he actually allowed us to listen to this, since we were humming "Dead Men Don’t Rape" in the car afterwards, instead of the lifting moments of "Dimmu Borgir". And this version? Have we ever heard such a monumental cover version of a track we already love? Not only has Dimmu Borgir managed to make a worthy tribute to a band that probably 95 % of their fans don’t know exists, but the Norwegians have made a tremendous cover. I guess that to these 95 % this will be like a Dimmu Borgir track, just a very different one. To those of us who’ve reached a certain age (35+, hehe), we sat there with open jaws being extremely impressed by Dimmu Borgir’s boldness as well as the music itself. The basic foundation were intact, but the pirates of the Icelandic fortress has added the Dimmu-touch and made "Dead Men Don’t Rape" a track that both stands tall on its own as well as being, as said, a worthy tribute.
As a side note, this same song was covered expertly in 2002 by Red Harvest on their “Sic Gloria Transit Mundi” album. Also well worth a listen.
PS, "Disease" is Global Genocide Forget Heaven’s second full-lenght, while the single "Reality" was release half a year prior to the immense "Disease" album.