Dimmu Borgir/Spiritual Black Dimensions [Bonus Track]

Spiritual Black Dimensions is the 4th studio release by Norwegian Symphonic Death Metal band Dimmu Borgir. The CD was issued in 1999, and was reissued in 2004 with added videos and a bonus track. This also marks the debut of keyboardist Murtis and clean vocalist ICS Vortex as well as the departure of 3 former members. There is a marked difference in the texture of this release, it is much faster, darker and keyboard laden the the bands previous efforts.

Reptile—-Almost at the onset you notice the more textured sound of the band. As the intro suggested, the music is much faster and aggressive and the huge organ sounds from the keys are magnificent. ICS makes his debut almost immediately and adds a unique and novel sound to the band that would exist through In Sorte Diaboli when both he and Murtis were expelled from the band. This is remarkable…the layers are dark and monstrous allowing the cold feeling of the aggression to grow. Fantastic!!!

Behind The Curtain Of Night-Phantasmagoria—-With a huge drum intro, the song literally explodes with huge symphonic sweeps that overtake your speakers. Shagrath has never sounded better than on this release…he appears driven and actually into the sound he is delivering. The keyboards are magnificent, the drums are even better. This is a remarkable example of the bands progression. Listen to the first release For All Tid and this and you will be hard pressed to believe it is the same band. At times the keyboards soar at such a speed you reach to pull your hair out and gouge your eyes…this is METAL!!!

Dreamside Dominions—-The first thing that you notice about this ‘vintage’ release is that the band sounds like the band!!! The tones and texture of the band is remarkably familiar and in tune with the music they are producing today without the orchestra though. Let me tell you…they don’t need all of that overdone musical revelry. The band stands alone on its own very well…at times, there is so much going on that you feel like Linda Blair with your head spinning in a million directions. This is fantastic.

United In Unhallowed Grace—-You never have a second to breathe the music begins so quickly and with unannounced fanfare. This is remarkably dark and sounds even more so with the added keyboards. You feel alone in the pitch dark with a vintage horror movie playing in your vein as you wait for the Reaper to appear. This is wonderfully constructed Symphonic mood music. Even better in English!!!! The guitar are drums are so aggressive on this track, you turn it down just a bit to save your speakers. Mag-freakin’-ificent!!!!

The Promised Future Aeons—-Beginning with a more familiar orchestrated intro, you know in the back of your little measly mind that it is only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose. The tone is set and lulls you into a quiet kind of mood until the 1:30 mark when the band enters the fray in all of their magnificent noisy revelry. This is aggressive with a huge sense of melody thrown in, while Shagrath blasts your ears with things that are better left alone. He only speaks of the human condition in a round a bout way…that is what so many people fail to realize. This is remarkable…the sound and the clarity, the texture and the layers makes this a remarkable opus.

The Blazing Monoliths of Defiance—-No playing around this track, the brutality begins at the first note. The layers of music are remarkable and the drums are absolutely mind-blowing. This is a nice thick slab of dark, cold maneuvering through the darker sides of life. When the guitars really move to the front, you realize how important they are to the melodic sounds of this band. Shagrath sounds demented and driven by inner forces that make the song literally huge. How this guy drums like that is beyond me….this is exquisite!!!

The Insight And The Catharsis—-Beginning with a magnificent piano/keyboard intro that manages to set the tone for the song, the melody is so strong on this track you declare the band a bunch of musical genius’. This is literally a huge, mammoth song that has things going on in all different places but managing to congeal into a magnificent journey. The clean vocals are magnificent and add so much to the band…what will become of this sound now that these two are gone remains to be seen. I can only hope for some great replacements.

Grotesquery Conceiled—-With a nice Cradle like vocal intro, the scream is surprising as you are used to Shagrath and his deep menacing vocal. This is remarkably layered and filled with the sounds that at the time were new and have now become expected. If the band really wanted to F&*K things up they will come out with a release that is so raw and demonic, the fans will be scrambling and hiding their heads beneath their pillows. This is fantastic. Huge and layered with so much melody it is almost normal to my ears.

Arcane Lifeforce Mysteria—-Beginning with an amazing sedate sound and acoustic guitar, the effects board on the keyboards add nice flavor as the metal guitars enter and begin to set the melody for the song. A choir of angels seem to sing through the backdrop and I laugh at this preposterous line I have written. The guitars gradually become more aggressive as the song progresses, but at over 7 minutes you have lots of room for mood swings. Shagrath invokes the name of Satan at a moments notice and when he finally pukes his vocal you are sure HE has arrived. The sounds grow increasingly more aggressive as the song progresses and the drums are again marvelous. The keyboards add a low-level ambience that has become important to the band…this is an opus full of feeling, sound and pure pleasure. Fantastic.

[Bonus Track]:

Masses For The New Messiah—-Even more orchestrated at the onset, the guitars come galloping pout of the darkness like an Iron Maiden classic. The emotion of the music is HUGE…you cannot escape the feeling behind all of the sound. The vocal seems set back a bit but still sounds as possessed as ever. This is literally a tour de force of Symphonic Black Metal. Almost better than anything else on this release, I am thrilled to have this.

****1/2 out of 5


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