Sound — 8
It seems like a new fashion among metal bands now is to record concept albums, telling you some story instead of just a few songs with scary words. After Manowar released their Gods Of War earlier this year, Norway black metalists Dimmu Borgir are ready hit the charts with their opus album In Sorte Diaboli. It is a well-known fact that the best metal is created in the North part of Europe, so the guys just couldn't go wrong recording in Fredman Studios in Sweden with a Swedish producer Fredrik Nordstrm. This is Dimmu Borgir's eighth album and the first new material in four years (after Death Cult Armageddon in 2003). The epic part of the CD carries an intricate story about a priest's assistant that suddenly understands he belongs to the dark side. The first single of the album and its opener The Serpentine Offering with the orchestral intro gives you an idea of what the album is about. You won't be bored listening to In Sorte Diaboli as things change so fast here, just be quick enough to follow. The songs are complex and it might take a while to realize what's going on. The band tried to make the album sound as close to a theatre play as possible. There's occasional piano that pretty much sounds like an ancient clarinet and of course they couldn't avoid a dramatic voice that reads the text. The record is also rich for different sounds to draw a vivid picture in your mind like bells, fire burning, people walking. Dimmu Borgir are known for their melodic metal, but that feature appear as sudden as it disappear. Most songs consist of two parts -- brutal and melodic and this change doesn't always sound organic, more often these are two different pieces. Some tracks even feature a catchy riffs and melodies -- like The Sacrilegious Scorn. The Fallen Arises could well be played at somebody's funerals, just take away the neighing horses. This is the only peaceful track among the fury of the record.
Lyrics — 7
The album carries a huge intense and most of it goes from the lyrics and vocals. Vocalist Shagrath growls throaty, more often speaking than actually singing. His screamo is diluted by Vortex's chorals on the background. The lyrics' quality is somewhere in between the singing poetry and well-written tale. It's better than most things we usually hear in the songs, but still nothing close to a good story from a book.
Overall Impression — 8
In my very own opinion the metal genre is running dry (let angry metal fans tear me into pieces in the comments). There are already quite a few bands on the scene that have guitarists playing incredibly fast, drummers shooting like machine-guns and vocalists screaming like devil incarnates. All that metal bands are left to do is vary their lyrics with some deep meaning. What matters now is if you like the tail they are telling you or not. The idea is quite fresh though; after a few more band use, it would all sound trite (I would suggest the next step would be making a video for every track). But so far there were no bad examples and this latest effort by Dimmu Borgir is no exception.