Dimmu Borgir - Abrahadabra
I'm sure enough publicity has been thrown the way of Norway's Dimmu Borgir, a symphonic black/extreme metal band who have caused as much controversy as they have critical acclaim. I find myself heavily attracted to their early works, and everything that has come since Death Cult Armageddon has rung less and less intriguing. Abrahadabra was released last year and it has taken me awhile to pick it up. Now that I have, I find a band who has gone so far beyond their roots that discussing them now seems moot. For better or worse, Dimmu Borgir are a symphonic metal band.
And, at times, they play this part extremely well. The perfect example of how form-fitting, atmosphere-setting and vital their symphonic and orchestral elements can be, intro track "Xibir" exhumes the darkest imagery without any member of the band proper appearing. It would be quite interesting to discover just how much of a role the band played in writing the parts that composer Gaute Storaas was credited for. In all, over 100 musicians played a part in making Abrahadabra and credit is certainly due to the orchestra and choir whose work is the true highlight of the record. The problem that rears it's head throughout most of the record is simply that the elements of orchestration and metal are seemingly forced together and rarely contain the chemistry and flow needed to pull off such a mammoth undertaking. When it does work, it works notably well, such as on the track "Dimmu Borgir", with it's beautiful and counterpointing choir arrangements. Also on "The Demiurge Molecule", perhaps the most well-written track on the album, as it builds into a mid-paced head-banger of the most epic and phenomenal sort. Stuff like this takes me off my feet and makes me wonder if the band is capable of putting together a full record of similar, quality material.
A few standouts aside, Abrahadabra has it's moments within certain tracks but quickly tires itself out. So much was put into it's creation and, while I can appreciate and credit the efforts of all involved, it ultimately falls flat as a consequence of either a lack of coordination or proper songwriting. Those are key pieces of the puzzle of any genre-bending effort such as this, and when you consider the vast amount of musicians, time and effort put in, it's somewhat disappointing that the results don't live up to expectations. For my money, Death Cult was the last truly meaningful thing Dimmu Borgir had in them. Two albums have so far not proven me wrong...but you never know what the future holds...
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