colm c, on october 01, 2010 3 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: Dimmu Borgirs' ninth studio album is an ambitious project in scale and scope which the band pulls off with equal parts brutality, and dare I say beauty? Firstly I'm not a fan of the Black Metal genre as a whole, it never did anything for me so my expectations were low from the start. But this album delivers from the entertainment and musical side of the field. Its huge firstly, the bands' sound is monstrous and couple that with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and the Schola Cantorum choir this album utilizes over 100 muscians and singers! Its an overwhelming thought when you think just how they kept their vision while writing these parts. Great performances all around here with all sides to involved seeming just to understand each other. // 8
Lyrics: Shagrath gives a very impressive performance here, full of emotion and venom coupled with the odd clean vocals on a few songs gives a nice counter point. Guest vocals on the single Gateways from Agnete Kjlsrud are very interesting and give the song another angle. The chorus' though can get stale after a couple songs into the album because they seem to follow a formula of just chanting or repeating the song title. // 7
Overall Impression: I love this album, the energy, the aggression and the sheer quality of the songs. The Orchestra sounds amazing and their work is sometimes the best parts of the songs, not to take away from the band itself who crafted the music. It's not just a Black Metal album or a Dimmu Borgir album it in my eyes is a bench mark for following symphonic albums to be measured against. Very solid, hugely entertaining and musically satisfying, get this album. // 8
Tyrant92, on october 06, 2010 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Side note- Let me just state now that this is the first review I've ever written for an album. So please excuse me if I tend to be a little redundant.
The absence of Mustis (Ex-Keyboardist/Songwriter) and ICS Vortex (Ex-Bassist/Clean Singer) left alot of fans wondering where Dimmu Borgir would go. Some said that Dimmu Borgir was finished, and that was it. They'll never be the same. But the avid fans of the albums For All Tid and Stormblast, and the more "grim and cold" sound, were left wondering. They knew the band they labeled sell-outs so long ago would never return to the grim and frostbitten, atmospheric, primitive, symphonic-black metal that they know and love, but they were waiting for Shagrath's (Dimmu Borgir's Vocalist) next move.
The reason for this long introduction, is because I believe the sound is still rooted in Mustis and Vortex, even though they are not present. They were key players in Dimmu Borgir's sound, as Vortex's operatic and epic cleans have always been a high point of the (what Fenriz would call) "plastic modern metal" era of the band, and Mustis overlooking every point of the song, driving it with his epic symphonic keyboards. Its already hard to top "In Sorte Diaboli", the bands previous effort. But if you remove the key players in the sound, it makes the journey much longer and harder, with other members having to put forth 3x as much effort to compensate the loss of the other members.
Now, onto the review-
With all this being said, the sound remains completely intact, heavier than ever before. Listening to this album brought me back to the first time I heard Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, but it retained the polished production of Death Cult Armageddon. The orchestration on this album has exceeded my expectations by far. I thought the idea of bringing in a 100+ person orchestra to replace a single member was a little ridiculous, until I learned that they didn't actually need it. Abrahadabra is still an amazing album if you take away the orchestration, because the riffs are constructed better than ever before, with some work even being reminiscent of Galder's other project, "Old Man's Child".
The clean vocals are where the (what I like to call) "Hot Topic Fan" might say something along the lines of it not being the same without Vortex, and they're very right as Snowy Shaw' vocals are of a completely different style of singing. Anyone familiar with Snowy-fronted band Therion can tell that there is an immense difference in their voices. But this is not a bad thing. I believe Snowys voice is the second breath of fresh air into the new Dimmu Borgir. Although I miss Vortex's voice as much as the next Dimmu fan, change can sometimes be good, and in this case it definitely is.
With the two big topics addressed, its time to move onto the other aspects of the album. Shagraths voice is not as processed anymore, which is definitely a step up from the "megaphone" effect he's been using on every song for the past decade. This is also the first appearance of Vader drummer Daray on a Dimmu Borgir album. And although Daray's drumming gets the job done, as a black metal fan, I'll always miss Hellhammer's frantic skin pummeling. One could also compare Daray's drumming style to that of Behemoth, which is not so unexpected as the drummer has played for fellow Polish Blackened Death acts, Vesania and Crionics. // 10
Lyrics: Ahh, the one downfall of any Dimmu Borgir album: The lyrics. Let me tell you, I love Black Metal, but not for the lyrical content. I love the cold and grim atmospheres of Mayhem, Darkthrone, Emperor, Immortal, Burzum, etc. But I can't help but laugh at the idea that these bands have been singing about the same topics for the past 20-30 years, saying the same things over and over in a million different ways. I've always been a little bit ashamed of this about my favorite genre of metal, but I've learned to look past it. What you see is what you get with this album, the typical evil imagery and metaphors. There's nothing new here compared to every other Dimmu Borgir album in the past ten years.
But nonetheless, dark lyrics mix well with dark music. They compliment each other quite well, regardless if the lyrics are the same thing we've heard over and over again. To me, it's more so the delivery and tone that mix well with the music, and in that aspect it's outstanding. // 7
Overall Impression: In closing, Mustis' and Vortex's departure are just minor set-backs for Dimmu Borgir, and it is no reason to not listen to their (what I would like to think) best album since Enthrone Darkness Triumphant. Do not let the single 'Gateways' fool you. I hated that song upon first listen, and immediately was disappointed. Writing off the album as another cash crop for Dimmu Borgir. But let me be the first to say, 'Gateways' is by no means a good representation of the album. I was not let down when I heard the finished product, and am extremely glad I gave it a chance.
The album is definitely a step up from the band's latest efforts, and if this CD was ever stolen from me, I'd more than likely go out and buy it again, if I didn't hunt the bastard down and take it back from him first. Even though there are a few minor setbacks, like guest vocalist Agnete Maria Forfang Kjlsrud's minor contributions, mainly in the song Gateways. The ending of the song is phenomenal, but when she first appears in the song, her voice reminds me of some kind of demonic cat being raped and castrated at the same time. Overall, the production is crystal clear and beautiful, everything shines through perfectly. The musicianship is outstanding, and Shagrath has definitely stepped up in the vocal department, and even though I can do without his lovely new head-dress/helmet thing, I try to look past it, no matter how large it is.
This is a must for any Third Wave Symphonic Black Metal fans. I suggest running out to your nearest underground, dimly lit satanic black metal store (or Best Buy), and purchasing this immediately. You will not be disappointed. // 10
unregistered, on october 18, 2010 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: You know, it seems like every time a band adds or removes something from their previous album, maybe shifts focus, some of their 'hardcore' fans instantly have a fit. Abrahadabra is an album that really seems to bring that sort of attitude out of Dimmu Borgir fans. Every time I check the latest YouTube comments. Saying they're not "black metal" anymore or "death metal" anymore. My question throughout the years has always been: Why does everyone have to focus on the genre? Can we just listen to the record and appreciate what it is artistically and enjoy it? This album, although a bit of a different venture from their previous efforts, I feel is in line with what this band has been planning to do for years, and is a logical step forward from In Sorte Diaboli. Their various albums over the years have always had some synth in it, some sound effects now and then, and had some clean vocals at all the right moments for good measure. It made for a really well rounded band, that I thought evolved each album. I think one of the biggest challenges a band has to overcome is moving forward, but being true enough to your roots where you don't forget what made you famous. In this case, I think Dimmu Borgir did a great job finding a balance. I've pointed out that some of their efforts seem like a continuous experience rather than an album with separate tracks. If there ever was a Metal Opera, this would be it. This would be a Cirque De Soleil that I'd pay to see. From what I hear, the band hired on 101 different musicians to collaborate with them, taking in an entire choir, an orchestra, and getting some help with other famous arists around the world including but not limited to King Diamon and Snowy Shaw. To sum it all up, this album is a journey worth taking over, and over, and over. What a great way to start October, the darkest month of the year in New England. // 10
Lyrics: The title of the album is Abrahadabra, which roughly translates to "I Create as I Speak". It's mystical sounding for sure, and it gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect when you read the lyrics booklet. My favorite tracks on the record are probably going to be 'Ritualist' and 'Ending and Continuations', the last track on the album, which I think was the best choice (not just because of the title) for the final track. I really enjoy the message it gives off. It's simple when you read it for what it is, but it's worded nicer than simply saying 'Stop living a sheltered existence, expand your mind and your life.' Instead, they use the words:
Flee the cage of insecurity
Enter the supreme unknown
Expand the inner and outer horizon
For it is as obvious as it is shown
Seeing - Evolving
Willing - Achieving
Beyond the next worlds
Are some of the lyrics ho-hum? Yeah. I think 'Gateways' probably could have used some work as an example, although it's still a beautiful arrangement, especially towards the end of the song where the girls clean vocal chorus kick in. The band gets their messages across without being stale. That's hard to do after so many albums. Kudos. // 8
Overall Impression: One of the best albums I've heard this year, easily. I think the only bad part about this album is that I want more. They always leave you wanting more. But I'll be the first to tell you I'm looking forward to more material, and I was more than willing to shell out the very small amount of money this album cost me. $8 at Best Buy. Honestly I sometimes hear some similar melodies and sounds to those that you'd find in songs by the fictional band Dethklok or in Destroyer 666's latest effort, but that's par for the course considering they share the same genre. I'd most certainly buy the album again if it came to it, but I'll most likely put the physical disc away in my room somewhere now that I have it in digital form on my iPod & iTunes list. Great job Dimmu Borgir, great job. // 9
JMitch88, on december 03, 2010 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: For a Dimmu Borgir album, Abrahadabra isn't their strongest album but it isn't all bad either. Dimmu Borgir employed the use of a great choir and orchestra for this album and that is one of the few redeeming qualities of this album. You can still tell that it's a Dimmu album even though it's lacking in content. It just isn't the same band since keyboardist Mustis and bassist/clean vocalist Vortex left the band. // 7
Lyrics: The lyrics are nothing short of standard Dimmu Borgir. Religious scorn is abundant yet again in this album. Shagrath once again shows us why he is still among black metal's finest vocalists. His voice fits the music perfectly. The lyrics do a decent job of setting the tone for the album which is very dark and gothic. Freedom of opression from religion is again the main theme for Dimmu on Abrahadabra. Nothing new there. // 8
Overall Impression: This album is mediocre at best. The album feels like it was produced just for the sake of producing one. The biggest problem with this album is that most of the songs don't really stand out and are bland and predictable at best. There are a couple of songs that stand apart from the rest, though. "Born Treacherous" and "Gateways" are the two tracks that stand out the most. These tracks have that "Dimmu vibe" that we've all come to love and expect from Dimmu Borgir. It's on these two songs that they sound like the Dimmu Borgir of old. If you are a die-hard Dimmu Borgir fan and feel like you must buy this album just for the sake of having it in your collection, I'd advise you to think carefully about it. Having it for your collection is the only way I can justify buying this album. This album is a bit of a disappointment for those who know how great Dimmu Borgir is and how great their previous albums are. // 6