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Dimmu Borgir – Eonian

Label: Nuclear Blast
Format: Download
Released: 2018
Reviewed By: Rich Catino
Rating: 7/10


So, you know (or should), the classic trailblazing black metal albums “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant” and “Spiritual Black Dimensions” from the late 90s, right? If not, for sure Dimmu’s triumphant trilogy of evil mastery; “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia”, “Death Cult Armageddon”, and “In Sorte Diaboli” albums in the 2000s, yes? Well, with the last album, “Abrahadabra” in 2010, Dimmu went into even more orchestral and melodic territories, which is all fine and good, but a bit too overdone? Yes, at times, losing some of the primal raw intensity from the first two albums. Eight years later, where else is there to go, do they regress, progress, or elaborate more of what they began with “Abrahadabra”? “Eonian” is the dark, atmospheric brother boasting even more melodic layers and harmonies to the Dimmu Borgir hellish symphony.

 

‘The Unveiling’ opens the album with some classic black metal riffing, followed by several backing vocals harmonies before rolling into an old school musical movement (with those splashes of “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant” keys), while the strong influence of Nightwish rears its head for the big orchestrated chorus. A catchy guitar and keys work for the first single ‘Interdimensional Summit’, but again, too much Nightwish with the harmonies on that chorus. Great mystery and mysticism to that lead melody on ‘Ætheric’, but could do without (all) the big backing vocals and cascading keys. ‘Council of Wolves and Snakes’ is much more pure ancient Dimmu in essence - the Indian tribal chants also compliment well, as done the mild orchestrations, and the fiery verse is back to themselves.
By track five, ‘The Empyrean Phoenix’ flows between the speedy black metal riffery, lead solo, back to their roots in structure with orchestrated layered parts not so overwhelming. Backing off a bit on the symphony gives ‘Lightbringer’ space to breathe and be devilish. Same with ‘I Am Sovereign’, and rhythmic ‘Archaic Correspondance’, the theatrical sounds appear in splashes with the dark guitars and melody. So the second half of the album is its strongest point, a balance between old school black metal aesthetics and lush accents. And, while epic and cinematic, the beginning to ‘Alpha Aeon Omega’ doesn’t transition smoothly into the aggressive main theme. Earthy instrumental ‘Rite of Passage’ would fit better on the first half of the album.
For me, if Dimmu pulled back on the Nightiwsh/Symphony X vocal melody influence, the excessive use of symphonic sounds for each arrangement, a shuffle of the tracklisting (nine and ten at the beginning), it would make more for a cohesive experience, and a higher rating. It’s just too much, less is more should have been the motto for “Eonian”.

 
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