Friday, October 15

Dimmu Borgir - Abrahadabra

Dimmu Borgir


I suppose I should start by saying that I am going to try hard to make this review specifically about Dimmu Borgir's latest monster rather than a critique on the behavioral tendencies of metal listeners and all that comes with the intense, often groundless prejudices developed within the underground movement; yes, I am irritated by all of the crap the band has already taken for what is clearly their most, personal tastes aside, ambitious, sprawling and grandiose recording ever. Dimmu Borgir are, at long last, back (and truly with a vengeance, I might add)!

I already feel so attached and enthralled by this particular album that I am not quite sure how to structure this review, though I am just going to follow my impulses and see where it leads me. I guess, for starters, we should look at the album as a whole, and what that entails in generalized terms; Abrahadabra, as hinted-at in the aforementioned paragraph, is strikingly dense, with the compositional complexity reaching heights the band has only flirted with in the past. The songs are structured quite progressively, never really following any kind of verse/chorus pattern, venturing into all sorts of little nuances that truly stand as a testament to the band's growth and strength as a relatively small unit (Silenoz, Shagrath and Galder). The composition of a song is often like an architect's blueprint whilst the arrangements therein serve as the construction and completion of the monument, being a significant injection of life into an already worthy piece; needless to say, especially if you've already heard the album, the arrangements on Abrahadabra are huge. The orchestral element of the band's music has never been explored more thoroughly and exceptionally than it has been here, possessing a quality and fire rarely heard in most artist's experiments with genuine orchestration; it's everywhere yet it does not overwhelm, accenting the blueprint in each and every song.

Yes, the songs; I've said it before and I'll say it again, song-by-song reviews are bad news and typically are the result of a lack of creativity so, as much as it pains me to not mention particular songs here, I am going to do my best to keep those ramblings at bay. Xibir opens the album on a particularly epic note, ascending from the moment it begins, eventually giving way to the mighty Born Treacherous; the guitar-tone is gigantic and sharp, Shagrath's vocals being the strongest they've been since Enthrone Darkness Triumphant in terms of harshness and delivery and, as detailed earlier, the orchestrations are just exhilarating, rolling over the listener like waves upon stones. Oh, and the song is magnificently catchy, and I reckon you'll be singing "Born treacherous!" along before the song's duration is even through! ;)

Typically a song named after the band itself is something you would generally see on a debut album, however, Dimmu Borgir decided the time was now for such an endeavor and the result is quite spectacular, displaying a melodic side of the band we really haven't seen thusfar in their career. Dimmu Borgir (the song, of course) is incredibly anthemic - almost uplifting - and is rather vigorous in its statement and delivery; indeed, it reeks of their strength and commitment to their art and I love it.

Ritualist and The Demiurge Molecule cannot go without mention, being the album's darkest and, if you will, most black metal moments; Ritualist hearkens back to even their Stormblåst days in terms of its melodic sensibility, arrangement and overall atmosphere, which is swirling, wintry and, unquestionably, extremely special. The Demiurge Molecule moves along at an almost doomy pace, really showcasing the album's occult theme atmospherically with its impenetrably dark vibe and density; the orchestrations on this track are truly stunning, also, and are given more room to breathe more than on the other tracks due to the song's more minimal nature.

Endings And Continuations concludes the album almost symbolically (the namesake of the song making this even obvious), and not without a bang; from the choral "Abrahadabra!" chants (which are almost ritual-like and most effective) to the absolutely colossal arrangements, this song somehow summarizes the album's purpose, feel and statement in such a way that, even if you had no tracklist on hand, you'd realize you were at the album's end. Brilliant!

The packaging for the album is beautiful and, at least for the first pressing of the US edition, comes in a fold-out digipak with no less than a 30+ page booklet, full of wintry imagery and theatrical portraits of the masters themselves. All of the lyrics are included and I do recommend one takes the time to explore their depths, regardless of his or her own personal spiritual creed, as they apply just as much to what is beyond the individual as they do to the individual him/herself; aye, the quality of the lyrics mirror of the quality of the music.

I personally have not been so moved nor exhilarated by an album since Sonata Arctica's The Days Of Grays (which was released last year) and am quite grateful for Dimmu Borgir's unfettered dedication to their craft and purpose. Abrahadabra transcends being merely an album but is, additionally, a glistening testament to the strength of unity, perseverance and growth, almost prophetic in its vision and perfect in its execution; yes, this is, without question, my album of the year. Thank you Dimmu Borgir, the true kings of Norwegian metal.

10 // 10

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The Protagonist said...

Lots of heart in that review, you've got a real knack for that.

Anonymous said...

That video is a complete joke, dude.

The Protagonist said...

Strange, yes. Completely over the top and ridiculous? Yes. Arrogant? Probably, but I don't think they're kidding around. I for one think it's extremely shocking and theatrical, but it helps me get into music that I might not otherwise listen to. I find the music enjoyable enough, which is really the purpose.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the music..but the cowboy jacket,floppy tentacle horns, and extreme and bizarre facial expressions with enough video edit to choke a horse are all complete mockery's of the art.

Oakenson said...

I find the video to possess a lot of potent symbolism regarding growth and transcendence, though I can also see how one who isn't very much into theatrics would think the video is rather lousy; since like theatrics and love symbolism myself, and I thoroughly enjoy the video.

Anonymous said...

It just looks like it is produced like a Marilyn Manson video to me. Though I suppose you're right on the note of theatrical appreciation.

Oakenson said...

Aye, exactly, it's just a matter of individual tastes. :)