Dimmu Borgir have been around for 25 years, almost to the day of their latest album, Eonian’s release . They are one of the more “accessible” Black Metal groups, utilizing orchestral and electronic elements and eschewing the relentlessness of other, more traditional bands. This is also one of the first bands I got into when I first started seriously delving into “extreme” metal. So this album has me feeling a little conflicted.
It is not so much that my tastes have gotten a little heavier over the past decade, though they have. But I have something of an emotional attachment to this band, and I can’t help feeling disappointed about the direction they are taking.
Eonian seems to exist in this weird liminal state that manages to be both bombastic and oddly appropriate as background music. There were shades of this on ABRAHADABRA, which placed more emphasis on industrial influences than previous albums, but at the time this seemed to compliment the more organic, orchestral sound of In Sorte Diaboli.
The current album, however, seems to want to drift toward Atmostpheric Black Metal, though it never goes so far as to become a Blackgaze record. It is an odd choice for a symphonic band, and the result almost makes me think of a watered down Epica release, without a female vocalist to anchor the music around.
This album was recorded over the course of eight years, and I think that contributes to its muddled nature. One or two of the tracks, particularly Aetheric and Council of Wolves and Snakes would have fit in fine on ABRAHADABRA. However, these share space with offerings that make me think the band discovered Blut Aus Nord somewhere in the process.
I also think that Dimmu Borgir have suffered since the exit of Hellhammer, who was on drums for what I consider their peak album, In Sorte Diaboli. Dariusz Brzozowski simply does not have the power or speed to ground the music properly.
None of this is helped by the mix, which is flat and, again contributes to an undifferentiated, background feeling. It as if Dimmu Borgir wish to be played but not listened to. Like they are embarrassed to be making the music they are making.
All that said, the album is enjoyable as its own entity, apart from history and genre considerations. If you need something to listen to while you work that has a particular energy and atmosphere without being intrusive, Eonian might work for you.
My hope is that this is a transitional record. The band is moving away from a big, orchestral sound to something closer to the industrial/ambient vibe of Blut Aus Nord. As long as they don’t go the way of Alcest, I kind of look forward to it.