Dimmu Borgir have released their new album, marking the 25th anniversary of the band. That album is called Eonian and it is released via Nuclear Blast. After an 8 year gap, could the symphonic black metallers return with a bang?
The last release from the Norwegian band was in 2010 with Abrahadabra. An album I quite like but one that split fans. After that they went AWOL for 8 years until a month or so back when singles started appearing for Eonian. The first of those was called Interdimensional Summit which I don’t mind while I can equally see that many people will hate it for it’s highly polished edge. Next up came Council of Wolves and Snakes which is a travesty. A creative mess with many strange ideas melded badly together, it really raised fears for the new album and for the band in general. You can read our thoughts on Interdimensional Summit and Council of Wolves and Snakes by clicking the links.
Dimmu Borgir are Shagrath (Stian Thomt Thoreson) on vocals with Galder (Tom Rune Andersen) on guitars. Also on guitars we have Silenoz (Sven Atle Kopperrud) and on bass is Gerlioz (Geir Bratland). Finally, on drums we have Daray (Dariusz Brzozowsk).
Eonian is the 10th album in total from the symphonic black metallers and frontman explained it’s purpose with the following statement – “Eonian represents the illusion of time, everything that is and always has been. For us, it also marks the 25th anniversary of Dimmu Borgir and the album itself is a tribute to our own history, and the Norwegian black metal history”.
Eonian is 10 tracks and 54 minutes long in total and starts with the aptly named Thy Unveiling. It has a kind of industrial metal feel to the drums and effects at the start. A little touch of Fear Factory before settling into a slow thumping drum, simple riff and chanted background vocals. The song kicks in proper with an interesting riff and some quick drum beats. When the vocals start properly, it is with almost whispers over a symphonic line. More than a little Dark Tranquillity actually. There is a big choir section which I like but it has the same feel of many ideas, loosely stuck together.
A lot of Eonian feels like that to me actually. Like they have 8 years of ideas to play with and have tried to chuck as much in as they can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it feels disjointed. It works well on Lightbringer which is a really strong song. It is one of the few times where the guitars are really at the forefront with a backing of symphony rather than the other way around. A quick riff, sinister vocals and loads of double pedal drum blasts make for a glossy, but rocking metal track.
The Empyrean Phoenix has a nice ominous tone to it and some intense drum rolls. The guitars are solid and work nicely with the orchestral keys. Shagrath sounds menacing and the bass lies thick underneath the track. There is a decent solo that is preceded by a multi layered instrumental section with choir vocals that sounds large and anthemic.
I am Sovereign starts by hooking you in with a melodic but sinister guitar and quick drumming but this one loses me a bit in the many switch ups that take place in the track. Shagrath’s vocals are backed so much by backing choirs you start wondering who the lead vocalist is. Blackened verses lead into softer orchestral sections but not fluently. These change ups come quite quickly and are often so different to the section before that it is hard to get involved and too often I find the guitars left behind so the orchestral sections can lead.
Archaic Correspondence is fantastic at the start with blasting drums and a quick picked riff. Even Shagrath sounds interested and fired up here but as the song progresses we go back to the almost repetitive keys and choir sound. It doesn’t add to what was a good song and that is my problem here. It is symphonic for the sake of it and feels pigeon holed into the track. The melodic keys with whispered vocals at the end aren’t really for me either and add very little to the track.
Alpha Aeon Omega has my favourite intro on the album. The symphonic start sounds larger than life. As the drums and guitars crash into action you can’t help but be excited. This is what I want to hear. A bombastic chorus, quick guitar solo and a sing off between Shagrath’s dark vocals and a higher operatic singer sound magical and a little Cradle of Filth. This is probably my favourite track on the album.
Eonian then ends with a bit of a whimper with Rites of Passage which is 5 plus minutes of instrumental. There is nothing wrong with it. It sounds fine but it isn’t new or original or exciting. It is just the same orchestral rhythm we have heard over the rest of the album with minimal guitars and drums. Perhaps it would have been best placed in the middle of the album or not on it at all.
Eonian ends with a whimper but it is no way near as bad as I thought it would be after hearing Council of Wolves and Snakes. In fact there are some very good tracks on here. Alpha Aeon Omega is great. Lightbringer and The Empyrean Phoenix all deserve credit. As an album it is highly polished and I do find that the band get lost behind the over use of symphonic keys and choirs. They should be enhancing the tracks not taking over them. There are many genuine occasions where Shagrath is the backing vocalist and the guitars are swallowed up.
In all though, a half decent return from Dimmu Borgir. It is unlikely to sway their detractors but fans will be pleased enough. Not blown away but happy that it isn’t a disaster maybe? For me, a couple tracks here will get the replay treatment for a while but a lot of the album will quickly be forgotten. One thing is for sure though, I still don’t quite know where Dimmu Borgir fit in in 2018. There are bands that do better symphonic metal and there are many bands that do better black metal. If Dimmu Borgir plan to release another album in the near future, they really need to step it up as it currently feels like a band that helped form a whole genre have been left behind.
Eonian is available now at all the usual streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify. You can also grab it from Dimmu Borgir’s website here. Finally, pick up Eonian and more from the band at the links below. Keep up to date with news and the like at Dimmu Borgir’s Facebook page, Twitter and own website.
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Eonian by Dimmu Borgir (Nuclear Blast)