…And thus began the great reign of disarray, commencing the new age of annihilation and despair, which was destined only to conclude in a terrible sadness. Innocent hath been spilled across the land by the blade of the new adversary, flooding the skies with a tempest of sadistic mourning. The enemy brought terror. And yet…as if possessed by a faint seraph…a gentle breath of life crept across the lifeless wasteland, cleansing it of iniquity for a sacred moment. Together, hand in hand, intertwined through a horrific scene, the two faces of the novel challenger stood beyond all hope, seemingly to reign for eternity in bloodshed. All that remained was a desert, stained with an unspeakable mortal, forever marked by the unholy reign of chaos.
Dimmu Borgir’s fifth record, Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia
, was a key step in a new direction for the ex-black metal band. Departing from the raw, melodic sounds of For All Tid
, five years later they evolved into a faster, heavier, symphonic, and in essence, more dynamic band. Not only is Puritanical
arguably the band’s most brutal album to date, but also introduces the use of an authentic orchestra, which they have continued to use on the follow up album, Death Cult Armageddon
. While the arrangements are not as prominent or elaborate as the subsequent record (Death Cult
utilizing a full 72-piece orchestra from Budapest[/i] while Puritanical
merely using a 13-piece Swedish strings ensemble), the music was a definite step forward in terms of atmosphere and complexity of their songwriting.
The music, like the introductory paragraph, is a conflicting yet complimentary fusion of opposing musical elements. Extreme metal doesn’t often go hand in hand with classical, but Dimmu Borgir seems to have mastered this technique prior to any other metal band. Shifting from crushingly heavy to tranquilly beautiful in nearly every track – Blessing Upon the Throne of Tyranny
being one of the many examples, featuring tremolo riff madness and a lesson in the pummeling philosophy of Nick Barker – Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia
is the definition of a dynamic metal album. Wonderfully composed classical pieces introduce and conclude the album, wrapping an onslaught of Scandinavian hatred in a polished, bloodstained casing. Sympozium
acts as a looking glass into what Death Cult Armageddon
would later bring, as the band merely follows the string ensemble’s powerful lead with brilliant guitar harmonizing to solidify the blend. Puritania
is three minutes of pure darkness as a steady drum beat backs Shagrath’s electronically distorted while the guitars and strings repeat a shady rhythm to lyrics of a descending protector.
Aside from progression in the music, the technical proficiency was due largely to the addition of two of the band’s key members. Nick Barker takes a seat behind the drum set and easily blows away any death metal drummers. Blessings
and Absolute Sole Right
pay tribute to his extreme double bass/blast beat speed. Even more valuable than Barker was the addition of bassist Vortex, who doubles as backing vocalist to Shagrath, and leaves no question as to why he has become a rather admired singer in modern metal. His high singing voice is decidedly conspicuous in nearly every song, and provides a soothing interlude in such tracks as Kings of the Carnival Creation
and The Maelstrom Mephisto
. Combining a multitude of rudiments to create Dimmu Borgir’s most melodic and most brutal to date, the two members continue to play a major role in the band’s modern signature sound.
No single characteristic of Puritanical
can be favored over the rest. Allow time to do its part in helping listeners to realize just how varied the album is. Shifting from viciously heavy to beautifully melodic, from dark and menacing to serene and peaceful, Puritanical
is one of modern metal’s most intricately written albums outside of the progressive genre. No lone song(s) can be chosen over the others – all eleven tracks flow together to make a solid album packed full of incredible riffs and astonishing orchestral compositions. For 58 minutes, Dimmu Borgir succeeds in creating a soundscape that is both a dreamy pasture and a raging battlefield.
A mere few favorite tracks:
- Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny
- Hybrid Stigmata – The Apostasy