Album Review: Dimmu Borgir - Eonian

Artist: Dimmu Borgir

Album: Eonian

Genre: Symphonic Black Metal

Review by Jon Shedden

I’m quite a visual person when listening to music (especially when listening to a black metal album) in the sense that I let the songs take my imagination on a journey.

The opening track "The Unveiling" takes my mind's eye straight to a secret gathering of hooded figures gathered in a slightly unorganized but meaningful manner. There are evil overtones and some simple but effective tremolo guitar lines followed by Gregorian chants and soothing symphonic chords – for those of you who have never listened to Dimmu Borgir, this is the signature sound of the band and it resonates throughout the album. There is quite a bit of melodic groove on this album too - something I’m quite fond of myself – which nicely breaks up the otherwise more extreme elements.

This is the kind of album you need to sit in a dark room, light a candle and lay on the floor listening and absorbing every nuance without any other disruptions. Many of the songs have subtle effects which cannot be appreciated to their full extent if you’re preoccupied with another activity. My particular favorite for this is "Council Of Wolves And Snakes" – It’s dark and evil at the start with plenty of sinister atmosphere before ramping up into some Nordic tribal-type drums and launching into the first verse.

By this point of the album you should be lost in your own thoughts. Indeed I was unaware what number song I was up to and it wasn’t until several listens later I realized how well this album flows. Transitions are relaxing and changes in dynamics never assault your senses, which upon listening many times I have realized is nothing short of excellent song writing. "I Am Sovereign" best highlights this point – the second half of the song combines machine gun double kicks and searing guitar chugs as a precursor to a gentle but power-laden lamentation. Much like watching a sunset, it’s something best experienced on your own terms - words cannot eloquently express why this sounds so good. Towards the end of Eonian things take a more traditional towards the older days of Dimmu Borgir. There is a little less dominance from the symphonic elements leaving room for the guitar and drums to shine a bit more.

Overall though, I found the lower end of guitars and drums to sit too far back in the mix - especially during the more heavily inundated symphonic parts. Tightening up the low end would (at least in my humble opinion) fix what is otherwise a very tidy mix. For most people, the evil choirs and obscure screaming found throughout Eonian will cause the average listener to eject the CD (or just conveniently type in another band in the search bar).

Those of us who have a more sophisticated appreciation for black metal might persevere and be rewarded with some quality music. Dimmu Borgir have certainly refined their style and expanded into a few areas whist sticking to what they do best – one just hopes they will not have to wait another 8 years before the next installment.

7 out of 10.

Eonian is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.

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