Dimmu Borgir - Abrahadabra
Nuclear Blast, 2010
Dimmu Borgir certainly has a way of dividing the black metal scene, but their status and influence cannot be denied. The two big questions on everyone’s mind are: how will the departure of bassist and vocalist ICS Vortex and keyboardist Mustis affect their sound, and how over the top will the band go with the increasing symphonic aspects of their music? There’s certainly cause for concern. The continued use of a real orchestra is actually a huge plus, giving the album a more organic sound than the keyboard orchestration used on older albums. There really isn’t any big loss in the heaviness of the band’s sound, either, and if anything the musicianship has been taken to a higher level. The end result is that Abrahadabra is very much akin to the last album from Septicflesh, Communion. After a short instrumental, two of the best songs, “Born Treacherous” and “Gateways”, open the album quite strongly. The first misstep doesn’t occur until the midpoint with “Dimmu Borgir”, which finds the band taking a backseat to the orchestra and operatic vocals in a way that could fit onto a Therion album. “Ritualist” will likely please older fans with its cold, dark feel, and it has a really cool acoustic guitar line incorporated over the fast parts. The other weak track, “The Demiurge Molecule”, is disjointed and all over the map, but “A Jewel Traced Through Coal” does a great job of featuring the while mixing things up a bit. “Renewal” has its moments, but the melodic parts seem out of place. Abrahadabra ends on a strong note with “Endings And Continuations” and leaves you feeling satisfied. I don’t think Abrahadabra will rise to being one of my favorite Dimmu Borgir albums alongside Spiritual Black Dimensions or Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, but the band has unquestionably succeeded in crafting a great record that advances their sound. Abrahadabra will only heighten the complaints from black metal purists, but any Dimmu Borgir album seems to do this. It’s funny how Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth are blamed for corrupting and selling out black metal, but other experimental black metal bands such as Enslaved and Ulver are embraced. Nevertheless, Dimmu Borgir continue to push the boundaries of black metal in ways that make some people uncomfortable. Where this will take them in the future remains to be seen, but Abrahadabra is a worthy addition to Dimmu Borgir’s extensive catalog.
Dimmu Borgir performs Tuesday, November 16 at The Cabooze in Minneapolis. Support will come from Enslaved, Blood Red Throne, and Dawn Of Ashes.