Spiritual Black Dimensions
Next to Emperor’s IX Equilibrium , Dimmu Borgir’s Spiritual Black Dimensions has been the most anticipated black metal record of the year, and for good reason. Not only is its legion of black-clad fans as large as Emperor’s, but Dimmu Borgir has nearly matched its Norwegian counterparts’ critical acclaim, both bands being of the grindingly fast but grandiosely epic variety that’s well received everywhere from the States to the farthest reaches of Europe.
However, it matters not that Dimmu Borgir bears a resemblance, however generalized, to Emperor, for its latest opus proves the band is more than capable of a tightly coherent attack as black as its hearts. Lead-off track “Reptile” sets the stage for the chaos to follow: guitars riffing triumphantly and confidently (aided in no small part by Peter Tagtgren’s characteristically scorching, woofer-blown production), Vincent Price keyboards falling like angels into damnation, drums warp-speeding from double-bass-bolstered staccato stutters to inhumanly fast blastbeats, the whole bloody mess being commandeered by Shagrath’s multi-dimensional vocals, which typically balance the reptile screech with the operatic, but sidestep the cliché with some ace multi-tracking techniques that effectively incorporate the two. And that’s just the first song.
The rest of Spiritual Black Dimensions races down a similarly unholy path, the band lyrically exploring all facets of sin and evil in a surprisingly mature manner, which is a welcome change of approach from its now-cliché Satanic themes of yore. More surprising still, Dimmu Borgir even shows traces of full-on rock power when it slows down the pace to a simple, mid-era Priest-ian tempo ripe for defiant fist-thrusting; “United in Unhallowed Grace,” perhaps the album’s finest moment, provides the finest evidence of this development.
In sum, Spiritual Black Dimensions has thankfully exceeded its massive pre-release hype, providing the day’s increasingly polite musical climate with another top-notch black metal record.
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