Dimmu Borgir - Abrahadabra (2010)





Is it possible to be the face of a genre, yet defy so many of the cardinal rules of the same genre? Black metal has become Norway's chief export, with it's raw production and heavy distortion. But Dimmu Borgir have transcended their classification as a pure black metal outfit. For they have a taste for the theatrical, in a sense that so few can possibly hope to duplicate.

When you enlist the services of 101 musicians for the recording of an album, including a 51 piece orchestra and 38 person choir, you are not trying to be subtle. This is a production of the highest magnitude, as is immediately spotlighted in the masterful work of "Xibir." But let the beauty be silenced in the assault of "Born Treacherous," a black metal track in so many ways, yet symphonic at its core. High speed drumming that will leave your head throbbing, guitars that are played with the utmost precision, and vocals bordering on the insane. How can the orchestra be the lead alongside traditional screeching, tied to lower octave spoken words that seem to create something far bigger than the genre allows?

The scope of their vision already realized, "Gateways" is nothing short of amazing. The use of choir and chanting vocals, keyboards, and a ghastly screech that will make you shiver, all come together in horrifying harmony. The ominous delivery of a key passage, "Be the broken or the breaker," is offset by the completion of the line by a female choir, "be the giver or the undertaker." This back and forth ends the track, leaving you breathless.

The epic scale of production is evident throughout, from the almost viking tinged "Chess With The Abyss" to musical journey of "Dimmu Borgir," a track which begins with a chant and a call to the "forces of the northern lights." There is something about the strength in the vocal delivery that commands your attention, but it is impossible to miss the musicianship presented. These are not amateurs. The most blackened of the albums tracks, the dark and yet powerful "Ritualist" hearkens back to bands roots, but with a modern sensibility attached.

With an arsenal this large, you rarely hear the same sound, the same voice, the same structure from one song to the next. The opening vocals to "The Demiurge Molecule" is unlike anything the precedes it. An orchetral breakdown, joined by shredding guitars and the omnipresent drums fills and rolls of a seasoned professional. "A Journey Traced Through Coal" starts like a horror movie theme before quickly descending into madness. Even at the speed of sound, the instrumentation never falters. The cohesion between rhythm section, guitar, orchestra and vocals is uncanny. "Renewal" is a sonic slugfest, with some of the most innovative keyboard leads you will ever find in metal of any kind.

Fitting to complete the opus with the showcase that is "Endings And Continuations," the band put the beast to rest, complete with a hollow echoing of the albums name, "Abrahadabra," which roughly translates into “I will create as I speak.” Certainly the band has created something both enchanting and terrifying. The boundaries of genre and style simply can not confine Dimmu Borgir. The have forged new territory with this, their evil symphony.

10/10