DIMMU BORGIR – Eonian
"Eonian" consists of ten atmospheric compositions that encompass more or less everything that one has come to associate with Dimmu Borgir’s take on majestic and bombastic black metal, which is say that there are plenty of cleverly written synth arrangements, memorable riffs, pompous keyboards, grandiose choirs, and the sharp and characteristic vocals courtesy of Shagrath present on this nearly one-hour long musical journey. The mood and tone of the song material lean toward what can only be described as slightly baroque, almost akin to an unsettling renaissance drama of sorts. There are loads of great melodies, effective hooks, and sweeping passages that every lover of the epic will love and cherish, but the downside to it all is that some sections and parts turn too…well, saccharine and vulgar, I suppose. The way in which the band merge and blend those huge-sounding keyboards with catchy and easily digestible riffs does not always work to great effect and tend to clash in places. Contrasts and dichotomies within music are often interesting and fascinating not to mention that they infuse the songs with intensity and excitement, but in this particular case there are simply times when Dimmu Borgir do not quite manage to unite the two forces and do not succeed in spawning something that is greater than the sum of its parts, which is a bit of a shame, really. Other passages go on for way too long and outstay their welcome. On the other hand, "Eonian" comes across as more explorative and experimental than some of its predecessors, almost as if it sounds less safe and more daring than "Abrahadabra", which is obviously a good thing. One example would be the brooding and moody instrumental named "Rite of Passage", which sounds like a gang of musicians who are looking to the future and seeking to expand the scope and ambition of their music as well as their way of expressing themselves. The same goes for the glorious "Council of Wolves and Snakes". "Lightbringer" is another highlight that has some really interesting nuances and layers to it.
"Eonian" is neither a raging beast of an album nor an all-out assault on the senses. It has plenty of drama and bombast to it, but ultimately the record lacks cohesion and certain tracks fall by the wayside and are anything but musically rewarding. Having said that, it does boast some truly captivating and compelling pieces such as "Alpha Aeon Omega" and the highly varied yet utterly coherent "The Unveiling", and I dare say that most fans of Dimmu Borgir will be find the album a satisfying one, It is well-produced and the musicianship is magnificent, so no complaints there whatsoever. "Eonian" may not necessarily be one for the history books, but it is still worth checking out and investigating should you find yourself in the mood for some theatrical and orchestrated metal with a lot of wicked twists and turns to it.