The Pitch: Marking their 25th anniversary as a band, Norwegian symphonic black metal legends, and often divisive group amongst genre fans, Dimmu Borgir return after 8 long years with their new album Eonian through Nuclear Blast.
What I Like: Let me begin by saying that, thankfully, all of my concerns in the wake of "Interdimensional Summit" were unwarranted. More on this track later, but suffice it to say there was fear that Eonian would turn into an over-the-top rock opera masquerading as black metal. Quite to the contrary, Dimmu Borgir have delivered a relatively understated album that in many ways scales back to the band's roots.
Were I to rank Eonian within Dimmu's multi-decade spanning discography, it would certainly come out on top of the previous two releases. Both Abrahadabra and In Sorte Diaboli were enjoyable albums with strong singles, but they also had their share of filler material. This new release feels much more consistent both in terms of style and quality. While you may not always get the same epic feeling of classics like "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse" (though there are certainly moments), each track is pleasantly engaging and contributes perfectly to the overall concept.
Now like many of you, I am still reeling many years later over the firing of ICS Vortex and Mustis. The former's massive, operatic vocals and latter's firey classical piano contributions continue to represent a massive hole in Dimmu Borgir's sound moving forward. But such is the genius of the approach taken on Eonian. It would be nearly impossible to replace these components, and it was clear the band's previous "black metal the musical" approach was suffering as a result. By going back to basics, more in line with releases like Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, they are able to highlight their existing strengths while paying tribute to their roots. This was something that paid of greatly on the rerecording of Stormblåst MMV and works just as well here.
And while new keyboardist Gerlioz lacks some of the technical flair of his predecessor, his throwbacks to old school synth effects and attention to simple-but-effective hooks really aids the overall atmosphere and composition. Unlike on the last two albums, most of these songs really stick in my head with their earworm melodies and sense of nostalgia. Everyone works as a unit with the shared goal of simply crafting songs that are as tight as possible. The guitar riffs are solid, the drumming powerful, and even Shagrath dials himself back a bit in the name of a more balanced sound. And as always, the orchestral and choral elements are in full swing, especially on massive tracks like "Council of Wolves and Snakes" and "I am Sovereign."
Critiques: Honestly, my only major complaint is with "Interdimensional Summit." The band mentioned that some of these songs were written all the way back in 2012, and given how much this one sticks out like a sore thumb in the tracklisting I am wondering if it was from that batch. In any case, it comes across as super corny. The riffs are more rock than metal, the symphonics are brimming with cheese, and everything about it just screams sellout. I pray that the band stays far away from this approach in the future.
The Verdict: Against all of my expectations, Eonian is a really great album that shows Dimmu Borgir redeeming themselves after a few rocky releases and finding increased confidence in their new lineup. It's incredibly consistent, taps into my love of their early discography, and shows that sometimes taking a few steps in reverse can lead to a better overall product. Well done. The album is super cheap this release week, so I encourage you to buy it now if you're a fan.
Flight's Fav's: Council Of Wolves And Snakes, I Am Sovereign, Archaic Correspondence
- Review by FlightOfIcarus
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