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Dimmu Borgir - Spiritual Black Dimensions review


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Band: Dimmu Borgir
Album: Spiritual Black Dimensions
Release date: 1999

01. Reptile
02. Behind The Curtains Of Night-Phantasmagoria
03. Dreamside Dominions
04. United In Unhallowed Grace
05. The Promised Future Aeons
06. The Blazing Monoliths Of Defiance
07. The Insight And The Catharsis
08. Grotesquery Conceiled (Within Measureless Magic)
09. Arcane Lifeforce Mysteria
10. Masses For The New Messiah [bonus]
11. Stormblast [live][bonus]
12. Master Of Disharmony [live][bonus]
13. In Death's Embrace [live][bonus]

When I was 14 I was given this album by a German foreign exchange student. On first listen I considered it to be just a load of noise as all other music she had given me. I was a young American who had not yet learned to appreciate non-mainstream, well produced, MTV-loved "metal." A few years later I popped this album in to reminisce the old high school days and what came out of my radio surprised me. My ear was trained on picking up the murkiness of the likes of Darkthorne and other early black metal. Though this album is in no way as murky in its production quality as the early black metal albums were, it still had an overload of sound that needed to be listened to in each individual instrument's sector.

From the opening track "Reptile" to the final track "Masses for the New Messiah" I was in a trance, completely captured by the music. Everything seemed to merge together in a perfect synergy. It seemed to me that the synth, guitars, bass, grim and clean vocals, and the drumming all were carefully placed and written to give each song its own character and allure. 10 years later I can still put this album in and listen to it from start to finish.

What stood out to me the most was the melodies and how they intertwined with the more punishing speed of each song. A mark of good songwriting for me has always been smooth and good sounding transitions and this album is loaded with them. There isn't one song on Spiritual Black Dimensions that is either sheer speed or melody instead its an ingenious balance of the two. Few bands have the ability to craft such a masterful work of songwriting and craftsmanship all the while keeping the listener captivated and interested.

There also seems to be a sinister almost lurking feeling to the atmosphere made by the synth throughout the album. The use of organs, piano, and mixtures of multiple settings are used excellently by Mustis who was a superior replacement for Stain at least for one album. With this element added to the already finely written music it elevates the album into the grandiose sound without going over the top. Though the keys are more prevalent with Dimmu Borgir than most symphonic black metal bands, they don't steal the show; rather they make it a more complete sound.

The lead work and solos on this album complement each song seemingly perfectly, too. No noisy crappily added mindless shredding, just smooth well placed measured melodies elegantly woven to add another layer on a seemingly perfect work of musicianship and songwriting. It's not the most technical nor the heaviest it's just very well put together album that in my opinion is a gem of symphonic metal. Astennu was a perfect fit for this album complementing Silenoz's work perfectly and the guitars do stand out but don't steal the show; instead it is just another piece of the puzzle to make this a very complete album.

Few symphonic bands get it right, either the keys are left to wallow alone in the background or the guitars are too prominent, or the drums are weak and forgettable. Dimmu Borgir does none of these rather they make it a perfectly complete effort. Spiritual Black Dimensions is a hauntingly, devastating and melodic journey deep into the pits of Hell that stands above the rest of the symphonic black metal universe.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 10
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Production: 9

Written by thewaytonever | 27.01.2012


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Staff review by
Demonic Tutor
Honestly, I missed out the Dimmu Borgir phenomenon and I am just now catching up with it. But man, is that ever worth it! While 'Stormblast' is considered as the cornerstone of the Norwegian band discography, 'Spiritual Black Dimensions' has to be regarded as another important album for them.

Fist of all, this is their first album with such a good production, which might have offended Black Metal purists but made Dimmu Borgir more popular than they ever were. But the main enhancement on "Spiritual Black Dimensions" is the dynamics that reign with an iron fist on the music. It's an ever-challenged atmosphere, with blasting drums, enthralling keys and grinding guitar riffs. And what about Shagrath's vocals? They are simply like another instrument, adding a layer of complexity to the compositions.

published 04.11.2006 | Comments (22)


Comments: 4   Visited by: 55 users
01.02.2012 - 04:13
Great review! \m/
01.02.2012 - 05:09
Written by Morgul on 01.02.2012 at 04:13

Great review! \m/

Thanks for reading. Glad to know I didn't come off sounding like I have brain damage
follow me on twitter @thewaytonever
06.02.2012 - 00:07
Lol not at all! I felt the same way almost to Dimmu and a lot of other metal. The day I started listening to it, it seemed noisy, but it intrigued me so I listened to more and more, and then I started understanding it and hearing all of the parts separately and together at the same time and then I saw how beautiful it all is. So I see what you are saying
02.04.2014 - 18:59
Tim, you should have lost your virginity to that German foreign exchange student.

I drink moosepiss

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