Album Review – Dimmu Borgir / Eonian (2018)

Uninspired, lame, generic, way too orchestral and utterly boring. What happened to our good old Dimmu Borgir?

I honestly don’t know how to start this review for Eonian, the brand new and extremely boring album by Norwegian Symphonic Black Metal icons Dimmu Borgir, the tenth in their career following their 2010 album Abrahadabra, which was also quite bad. Well, first and foremost, I don’t think the low quality of the album is due to the several lineup changes the band suffered through the years, with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Shagrath and guitarist and bassist Silenoz being the only original members left, and with guitarist and bassist Galder being already a longstanding member. In my humble opinion, their biggest mistake in Eonian was trying to be way more symphonic than they should, resulting in a bland and confused version of the music by Nightwish or Epica with extremely uninspired harsh vocals and generic lyrics.

Featuring an interesting artwork by Polish artist Zbigniew M. Bielak (Deicide, Ghost, immolation, Paradise Lost), much better than some of their previous installments by the way, Eonian has everything we don’t want to listen to in a Dimmu Borgir album, from totally out-of-place orchestrations to a lame background choir. I don’t know how keyboardist Gerlioz and drummer Daray survived another round of pedestrian metal music with Dimmu Borgir after Abrahadabra, and I hope for the sake of their careers they do not accept to participate in another explosion of sheer mediocrity with Shagrath and his horde in the near future. Should the band call it quits after Eonian, or will they keep recording tedious album after tedious album while at the same time they cash in some decent money from their live concerts and merch? In the end, it seems that’s what several renowned bands only care about, right?

An orchestral and imposing start evolves to a heavier version of the Symphonic Metal played by Nightwish with Black Metal vocals in the opening track The Unveiling (and that will happen with pretty much every song of the album), not even close to their classic sonority, getting utterly tiresome after a while despite its not-so-bad lyrics (“Become through earned / And granted liberation / Rise above the secrecy / And silent deception / Clarity is determined / At the depths of murky waters / The potion of black earthed blood / Is the sludge draining the conscious”). Then yet again we have another tasteless tune that seems taken from the worst of all Epica albums, the first (and boring) single titled Interdimensional Summit, which might have worked for other Symphonic Metal bands, but definitely not for Dimmu Borgir. Moreover, as already mentioned the album’s background choir doesn’t bring any potency to the music, not to mention how low the guitars by both Galder and Silenoz sound compared to the orchestrations. In the good Ætheric, the drums by Daray finally appear amidst the excessive orchestral sounds, as well as the riffs by the guitar duo, in what’s probably the best song of the album (with even Shagrath sounding more devilish on vocals). Put differently, this might be far from being a masterpiece by Dimmu Borgir, but at least it’s Symphonic Black Metal.

In Council of Wolves and Snakes a cinematic, horror-like intro morphs into a macabre sonority, bringing a touch of Doom Metal to their dark symphony and with guests Mikkel Gaup and Martin Lopez adding a demented twist to it with their shaman vocals and voodoo beats. There’s nothing truly outstanding in this case, but it’s still a decent song, which is definitely not the case in The Empyrean Phoenix. I’m not sure what to say about this song, as it has an interesting and vibrant vibe while at the same time its instrumental pieces are again way too orchestral, lacking more aggressiveness in the end. After such unstable song we have Lightbringer, where the band shows a spark of their glorious years in a promising start that grows in intensity spearheaded by the beats by Daray, morphing into a hybrid between the band’s classic Symphonic Black Metal and the lighter Symphonic Metal that “poisons” the entire album, but fortunately in this case Shagrath and his horde sound a lot better and more cohesive.

In the horrendous I Am Sovereign, while the music itself tries to be symphonic, it feels more like a soundtrack to a very unexciting circus act, with all that’s already bad getting even worse due to its generic lyrics (“Perseverance doesn’t mean anything / Unless it’s for eternity / The real powers that will ever be / Is freedom and liberty”). Where are the guitars? What happened to Shagrath’s voice? These are just a couple of questions raised in what’s probably the worst song of all. And Archaic Correspondance doesn’t get much better than that, not knowing if it wants to be a heavy or orchestral (or even pop) song. At least Shagrath’s voice sounds slightly heavier and more demonic than in the previous tune, but the choir once again makes the whole song too soft and tiresome. In short, this is a total waste of almost five minutes of your life. Alpha Aeon Omega presents a relatively better balance between the band’s Black Metal and the infinite orchestrations in the background, with Daray’s drums sounding crisp and piercing; however, once again the guitars are almost nonexistent (which is a bummer for any fan of heavy music). And the instrumental piece Rite of Passage would have been great if the rest of the album wasn’t such a disappointment. Anyway, it’s as decent as it can be, ending the album in a somewhat whimsical way.

In my opinion, one of the biggest issues in Eonian, if not the biggest one of all for a huge part of fans of metal music, is that pretty much all songs drag for way too long. There are countless bands that can make a 15-minute song sound like if it had only a minute or two so compelling their music is, but in the case of Dimmu Borgir they managed to do the exact opposite in Eonian, with almost every song in the album being an endless torture even if they have less than five minutes in duration. Furthermore, after surviving listening to Eonian for a couple of times (trying to find something good in it), I was going to give it a 2.0, but after listening to the first single from the upcoming album by Eric Peterson’s furious and epic Symphonic Black Metal project Dragonlord, the sensational title-track Dominion, I was “forced” to lower Eonian’s rate to 1.5. I have no idea if you agree with me or not, perhaps I’m being too demanding, but if you truly think Eonian is a good Symphonic Black Metal album I highly recommend you go take a listen at Dragonlord. Then I’m sure you’ll agree with me that Eonian unfortunately sucks big time. Needless to say, I’ll never listen to it again of my own free will.

Best moments of the album: Ætheric and Lightbringer.

Worst moments of the album: The Unveiling, Interdimensional Summit, I Am Sovereign and Archaic Correspondance.

Released in 2018 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Unveiling 5:47
2. Interdimensional Summit 4:39
3. Ætheric 5:27
4. Council of Wolves and Snakes 5:19
5. The Empyrean Phoenix 4:44
6. Lightbringer 6:06
7. I Am Sovereign 6:48
8. Archaic Correspondance 4:55
9. Alpha Aeon Omega 5:18
10. Rite of Passage (Instrumental) 5:16

Band members
Shagrath (Stian Tomt Thoresen) – vocals, bass, keyboards, orchestral arrangements,
effects
Galder (Tom Rune Andersen) – lead guitar, bass
Silenoz (Sven Atle Kopperud) – rhythm guitar, bass
Gerlioz (Geir Bratland) – keyboards, additional orchestral arrangements
Daray (Dariusz Brzozowski) – drums

Guest musicians
Mikkel Gaup – shaman vocals on “Council of Wolves and Snakes”
Martin Lopez – voodoo percussion on “Council of Wolves and Snakes”
Schola Cantorum – choir vocals
Francesco Ferrini – orchestra
Gaute Storås – choir and orchestral arrangements

Album Review – Chrome Division / Infernal Rock Eternal (2014)

Not a great disappointment, but not a great album either from a band that can deliver a lot more than this.

Rating6

CoverWhen the Norwegian band Chrome Division started as a side project from Shagrath, the leader of Dimmu Borgir, and Lex Icon, founder of The Kovenant, releasing the awesome album Doomsday Rock ‘N Roll in 2006, and Booze, Broads and Beelzebub after that in 2008,  the world of heavy music opened a big fuckin’ smile with their interesting mix of Heavy Metal, Hard Rock and pure Rock N’ Roll, or as the band itself likes to call it, “Dirty Doomsday Rock and Roll”. However, after vocalist Eddie Guz left the band in 2008, the quality of their compositions went down and it doesn’t look like they will recover from that fall in the short-term. Their following album, 3rd Round Knock Out, from 2011, wasn’t as good as its predecessors, and now with Infernal Rock Eternal once again they release an album way below their musical capacity.

Good Morning Riot is just an acoustic intro, similar to what Volbeat have been doing lately in their albums, that prepares the listener for what comes next: Endless Nights was the first single released by the band for this new album, including a very well-produced music video with a huge mistake: where are the famous half-naked sexy girls in the video? And what’s with all the Bon Jovi-ish wah-wah’s? Anyway, it’s a good and direct Rock N’ Roll song that will please even who’s not a fan of the band. The following track, (She’s) Hot Tonight, despite being good and with a hint of Motörhead in it sounds too commercial for what Chrome Division usually does, while on the other hand The Absinthe Voyage shows an excellent work with the guitars and a heavier approach similar to what they used to do in their previous albums.

BandHowever, after that the problems with the album get really serious: Lady Of Perpetual Sorrow has a pleasant acoustic intro, but lacks a lot more creativity and energy, getting too boring after a while; the same happens with the uninspired The Moonshine Years with its generic heavy riff. Fortunately the next song, No Bet For Free, is a lot more more Rock N’ Roll, full of interesting solos and a good performance by Shady Blue, but the quality goes down again with On The Run Again, which is just a regular song with a good rhythm. Then comes Mistress In Madness which has a very decent start, but then gets back to the same generic level until the end. Reaper On The Hunt has that dirty sound we learned to enjoy from the band’s old songs, and it suits Shady’s voice a lot better, while You’re Dead Now is another slow-paced generic song. The album ends with the awesome Ol, a very “Motörhead” track that is way better than most of the other songs, and if you get the digipak you can also enjoy the good bonus track called Dirty Dog, which is worth the investment in this special version of the album.

In summary, although Infernal Rock Eternal cannot be considered a bad album, it’s not even close to the awesomeness of Doomsday Rock ‘N Roll. Shady Blue is not a bad singer, not at all, but he lacks more punch and so far hasn’t been able to add the same value to the band as Eddie Guz used to. Honestly, I was expecting a lot more from a band that has already created such masterpieces like Serial Killer, Breathe Easy, The Angel Falls and Booze, Broads and Beelzebub, but it looks like Chrome Division cannot get to that same level of music again, or maybe they do not want to, as a more polished and commercial approach might mean more money in their pockets. I really hope that’s not the reason for what the band is doing nowadays, and that they can get back to that dirty old music we like so much soon.

Best moments of the album: The Absynthe Voyage, No Bet For Free and Ol.

Worst moments of the album: Lady Of Perpetual Sorrow, The Moonshine Years and You’re Dead Now.

Released in 2014 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Good Morning Riot 1:28
2. Endless Nights 4:44
3. (She’s) Hot Tonight 3:46
4. The Absinthe Voyage 5:05
5. Lady Of Perpetual Sorrow 5:33
6. The Moonshine Years 5:59
7. No Bet For Free 4:37
8. On The Run Again 4:42
9. Mistress In Madness 5:07
10. Reaper On The Hunt 4:07
11. You’re Dead Now 5:17
12. Ol 3:24

Digipak edition bonus track
13. Dirty Dog (Bonus Track) 3:28

Band members
Shady Blue – vocals
Shagrath – guitar & backing vocals
Damage Karlsen – lead guitar & backing vocals
Ogee Ferrari – bass guitar & backing vocals
Tony White – drums