Released: 1999, Nuclear Blast Records
Editors Note: Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any website were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
By this point people had realized that the old Dimmu wasn’t coming back. For the few that had hoped that perhaps ENTHRONE DARKNESS TRIUMPHANT was an anomaly, this was the nail in the coffin. Now, two albums into a deal with label Nuclear Blast, two albums with the new line-up, two albums with the new logo, two albums with decided non-black Metal covers, the olden days of yore were gone. For many new fans, this band had shed the last of it’s, perhaps limiting black Metal archetypes and was really starting to get interesting and hit their stride. Either way, it was a divisive album.
I’m surrprisingly neutral on this album, as well as ENTHRONE. When I want to hear the raw and primal Black Metal Dimmu Borgir, I pull out the first two albums. When I want the more opulent, bombastic orchestrated Dimmu Borgir, I pull out PURITANICAL and onward. The middle two albums, I just don’t revisit them as often. It is almost as if the band does albums in pairs before evolving again. This album looked cool in terms of packaging and presentation with the close-ups of the fish hooks piercing human (?) flesh and the band further embracing the leather and mesh look.
The production values are immense, compared to the past few, you can tell they had a budget. Recorded at Abyss Studios with Peter Tagtgren the album has a big orchestral sound. SPIRITUAL BLACK DIMENSIONS sees the album loaded with that mid-90’s Casio keyboard sound, super shiny, clean sound that you could easily hear on a Stratovarius or Children Of Bodom album. New keyboardist Mustis really added his stamp on the album as did the addition of ICS Vortex who supplied clean vocals. The songs are more melodic and flowing and the vocals of Shagrath are mixed way up front with his identifiable croak sounding very good. Even though the songs are mostly in the average range the arrangements and compositions are more diverse and challenging.
Everything on SPIRTUAL BLACK DIMENSIONS worked. That year Dimmu Borgir won the Spellemannprisen, the most prestigious music award in Norway. They converted legions of fans and shed the last of the Black Metal roots. By all accounts except for a few hold-outs, this album was a complete triumph.