Sound — 8
When I came into this album, I was expecting quite a lot from Dimmu Borgir. They are a band who have managed to successfuly warp the black metal genre into something more unique and by this I mean this industrial, almost over-produced sound that the band often gets discredited for. In fact, many black metal aficianados even go to say that regardless of the fact that Dimmu Borgir claim to be black metal, that their sound has deteriorated. However, the way I see it, this new sound is working for them with their recent addition of millions of fans over the last decade or so. They had a great circus music-influenced sound on Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia and Enthrone Darkness Triumphant that made those albums excellent already regardless of the fact that everyone was a great musician on those albums. So, naturally, I expect to see this circus feel with their standard quirks and sound effects (ala Puritania). This album is powerful, yet provides us with everything that Dimmu has already done, except that now it's in a concept album format, which surprisingly doesn't change much. I tend to think of names like Ayreon, Pain of Salvation, Dream Theater, and Symphony X when I think of concept albums, and for each of those bands it has worked fantastically in a progressive format. Similarly, the progressive tints that Dimmu possessed in PEM and EDT was what led me in the first place to enjoy their music. It was straightforward and at the same time went somewhere too while being atmospheric and misanthropic. What I will give Dimmu credit here is for maintaining a sound and production hefty enough to give their music that chaotic whorl effect. But, this concept album just doesn't deliver the kind of things worthy for a concept album. It has some very entrancing, chaotic, and atmospheric moments that are original, but the overall sound like I said, has been done by Dimmu before. The one aspect I truly feel has been refined is the atmospheric aspect in that they're spiraling slightly back to the ways of old black metal. In terms of each instrument, the keyboards are doing a mighty fine job, although they are doing the same things they always did. The guitars are a little more annoying this time around as it feels like mass tremolo picking all the time, which really does get old. The bass is definitely working like always, can't complain too much about it except that I'd like to have it a little higher in the mix and doing something more unique. The vocals from Shagrath feel like they have even more effects on them, which brings Dimmu that whole misanthropic/evil/we-hate-the-world theme they seem so keen on demonstrating. The clean vocals are as good as always, and keep things fresh as seen on The Serpentine Offering, no complaints. What's left is the drums which are also powerful and show a talented pallette from Nicolas Barker, but also show that he's fairly two dimensional. It's either full on blast or some mid paced blast/groove to fit the clean singing. Dimmu could definitely benefit from toning down the guitar and drum onslaught. We've heard it in metal a million times. The only thing is that I almost can't complain because regardless of the fact that the sound on In Sorte Diaboli doesn't really bring anything new to the table, the melodies and passages are often ones I take to heart. I just wish they would have been presented in a fresher manner. Still, kudos to Dimmu Borgir along with Nile and Behemoth for releasing possibly their most skilfully made albums, although with these 3 bands, which are some of the most chaotic in metal in my opinion, have had better albums. The last thing I would like to add is that this is the first of a 3 album concept and this has me pumped. They need more songs like Fear and Wonder and more variation, because the tracks like on The Apostasy and Ithyphallic aren't totally memorable.
Lyrics — 6
I never have really cared for the lyrics too much, and with themes like that of Dimmu's I tend not to care too much if they're cheesy or not. I do realize, that Dimmu Borgir's lyrical themes are quite on the corny side, but that I can't expect too much from them. The lyrical concept is of a monk who has realized that he is not working as a brethren of christianity, which is sort of cool and at the same time boring. I don't really care too much about it. The vocals on the other hand are done very well when you hear the cleans. The growls are average, but are getting annoying, so that's a minus for this album. I really was expecting more in the growls department.
Overall Impression — 8
If this album were lost or stolen, I probably wouldn't bother buying it back, unless I suddenly decided I was a Dimmu collectionist at that point, and I don't see that happening. It's good music, don't get me wrong, along with The Apostasy and Ithyphallic, but if either of these albums were lost I wouldn't bother. Dimmu has Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia and hell, even Stormblast. Nile have In their Darkened Shrines and Annihilation of the Wicked. Behemoth have Demigod and Zos Kia Cultus. I'm not even talking about the other good albums these bands have. It's just that the other albums all have a more genuine and sincere feel to them. These last 3 albums do not, and obviously In Sorte Diaboli is not an exception. I can appreciate all the consistency in them, but I am a man who enjoys experimenting in music. I like things kept fresh. The Serpentine Offering is personally my favourite song along with the instrumental and clean sections on the other songs. The overal feeling is that it isn't too memorable, so I can't give this album an 8 yet. The intent is good, but the final product did not deliver up to par. I'm sure if I heard this 2 or 3 years ago, along with The Apostasy and Ithyphallic I would have been amazed. But today, I have heard a lot more, and know there is better out there.