Released: 2010, Nuclear Blast Records
OK, we all know Dimmu Borgir. Arguably the most polarizing band in all of heavy metal; the band likely has just as many fans as detractors. Personally, I’ve always liked Dimmu regardless of others or how “tr00” the band is. I’ve enjoyed all of their albums from ENTHRONE DARKNESS TRIUMPHANT right through to DEATH CULT ARMAGEDDON. Then came the band’s inevitable concept album, IN SORTE DIABOLI which, to their credit toned down the symphonic chaos of previous albums and got back to a more stripped-down style. Unfortunately I found the album to be a colossal bore, without much to recommend it. Since then I’ve kind of grown away from the band and haven’t listened to them much in the last three years. Still, Dimmu Borgir has reached a level where each release is an event, so I was at least curious to see what they’d come up with this time around.
The unfortunately named ABRAHADABRA opens with a throwaway orchestral piece, “Xibir” before getting to the first worthwhile song, “Born Treacherous”. To my ears it sounds like the band has found a happy medium between the over the top symphonics of previous albums and the back-to-basics approach of IN SORTE DIABOLI; it’s an endearing mixture that keeps the orchestral elements but doesn’t overuse them. Indeed, “Born Treacherous” is better than anything of the previous album. Things fall of the rails a bit with the next song, the single “Gateways”, mostly due to abhorrent female vocals. Sadly, this is the pattern for the rest of the album as about only half of the songs can rank among the band’s best. One of them, the self-titled “Dimmu Borgir” is easily one of the best songs the band has ever written. Others, such as “The Demiurge Molecule” and “Endings and Continuations”, are among their most forgettable.
As for the myriad line up changes, former keyboardist Mustis is capably replaced by Gerlioz (whoever that is), while bassist/clean vocalist ICS Vortex is terribly missed. His vocals brought great contrast to Shagrath’s growls and shrieks, and as for his replacement...well, I’d suggest there is a reason that Snowy Shaw was best known as a drummer as he nearly ruins each song he “contributes” to.
In the end ABRAHADABRA is a positive step for Dimmu Borgir compared to their last album. Their diehard fans will undoubtedly be pleased, their critics will find much to hate, and the band will go on doing their thing regardless.