Live at The Fox Theater
in Pomona, CA
November 27th, 2010
Review and Photos by Travis Baumann
Dimmu Borgir take the world by storm once again with the Darkness Reborn Tour. They just came out with their newest album, "Abrahadabra" which showcases them in their finest form and illustrates that despite a major furor over the exodus of nearly half the band members, the solid core that is, and will always be, Dimmu Borgir weathered the storm and came out even stronger.
Having seen them twice before, I had first hand knowledge of what a great band they are live. Dimmu Borgir easily rank up there as one of the best bands to see live in my experience, and I have seen a lot of bands. Their decimation of the sonic world is absolute.
They have an arsenal that includes two of the most talented guitarists in the world, Galdar and Silenoz. This duo build, not just a massive aural assault, but a brilliantly articulated musicality. More importantly, their talent actually touches you with its power and soulfulness. To some it may sound ironic to use the word soulful with a band that embodies darkness and sinister tidings, but the new material especially, has a hugely lifting epic quality to it. Songs like "Gateways" have a powerful message in that we are the architects of our own destiny, we have the key to our own master plan.
Their performance opened with the cinematic "Xibir", a powerful orchestrated instrumental off the new album. The band emerged in stages, first the drummer alone then the keyboardist and bassist, all of which were obscured with facial masks shooting a dagger of a message to the booted members, their positions filled with faceless session players.
Galdar and Silenoz each came in from the sides, both armed with their guitars. They sported their new white fur-trimmed outfits that have been featured in all of the material associated with the new release.
Finally Shaggrath took center stage, also dressed in white. Typically always in black and silver, this look in itself was a huge change for the band. He addressed the crowd, "Welcome to the new Era of Dimmu Borgir!". They blasted into "Spellbound (By The Devil)" which was cool and slightly ironic as that is off of one of their earlier releases.
It was interesting to see where the set would lead in terms of song selection and as it played out, I couldn't have been more pleased. For their second song they did "The Chosen Legacy" off of their previous album "In Sorte Diaboli". This song contains the verse that the album title is taken from and the resounding sing along was pretty awesome to behold.
Backing up in time by several albums in their history, they did "Indoctrination" off of "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" which was great because this was the album that pushed me over the edge as a hardcore Dimmu fan.
This is where the concert became a dream set list for me. Shaggrath asked if anyone had heard the new album yet, which the entire audience screamed back that they had. It has been far too long in coming, we finally get the official "Dimmu Borgir" song and it is as fitting of an anthem as you could ever hope for. The lyrics are powerful and Shaggrath is in perfect form crying out the "Call to Arms!" They have huge choirs belting out the name's sake chorus, it is all that it should be and very impressive live.
They continued on with the new material giving us the aforementioned "Gateways". This song deviates in many of the traditions of Dimmu Borgir by utilizing female vocals, both in verse alternating with Shaggrath, but also in a very powerful way in the chorus combined with background choir. It really escalates their sonic diversity as well as adding a powerful message that really resonates with me personally.
The next song is where the title of the tour, Darkness Reborn comes from. I had a pretty good idea it would be played before the night was through. "Chess With The Abyss" intellectually challenges the listener from the title alone. This song illustrates what they are all about, both lyrically as well as the unique musical qualities that define what is a Dimmu Borgir song.
The use of cinematic symphonic orchestration in perfect combination with intricately woven, expertly written guitar layers and an enormous diversity in vocal delivery is what elevates These guys beyond all the other bands in this and the adjacent sub genres.
As if these three in a row weren't an awesome treat in themselves, we get even more off the new album. They followed with "Born Treacherous" which is the album opener and a powerfully built song that pulls you in with the first signature guitar hooks and then carries you through the sing along chorus that made me fall in love with the album on the first listening.
For the final piece of new material, they played "A Jewel Traced Through Coal". Prior to the dismissal of certain band members, their melodic vocal duties had been of the male variety and it was interesting to see how they had adapted female vocals in solo and choir form to take that place and the effect is quite staggering. It lends a majesty to their sound that makes me smile and I took note of how it affected the audience as well. A number of people had their arms raised, not in the typical salute of the horns, but palms up that made me flash back to my buried Pentecostal upbringing. I have to concur with the overall impact... it makes them much more dangerous in the recruitment for the Armageddon Death Cult that is for sure.
Shaggrath asked if there were any old school Dimmu Borgir fans in the audience which got every arm in the air as a response. They proceded to go back to the beginning with "The Blazing Monoliths of Defiance", a great old song which sounded better than ever with their new revisionist attitude and an amplified symphonic boost.
For the last song of the set, he announced that they would do one off of "Death Cult Armegeddon" and that it was a good day to be a Norwegian in America. They performed "Vredesbyrd" off that album and this song originally had a large piece sung by the earlier mentioned melodic male singer no longer present. I was really impressed with how they redid this section of the song. It had female choirs singing combined with some extra effects on Shaggrath's voice and it was really cool. I was wondering if they were just going to avoid the songs that featured the secondary singer all together or how they would handle it but man, did they nail that one. I thought I would miss him but I think this was even better than before.
They left the stage to mass cheering which, without pause, turned into mass chanting for their return. Shaggrath spoke quite a bit more than on previous tours and he thanked the audience, genuinely happy with the great turnout.
The first song of the encore was "The Serpentine Offering", which was their hit single if you consider a band like Dimmu that doesn't release in such a fashion having something of that nature. The mosh pit had been active the entire evening but it picked up a new fury with the end of the concert in sight and such a popular track. As with the previous song, the new treatments were perfect and my already insanely high impression of Shaggrath, Galdar, and Silenoz rose another notch.
Shaggrath introduced the next song as a "simple but moving song" and that he wanted to see every head banging to this one. It was of course "Puritania", which got his desired response easily as the song has a driving rhythm and guitar assault that blasts into industrial territories and produces an uncontrollable urge to do just that. I love this song and no matter how many times I listen to it or see it live, I want to do so again and again. I remember when this album first came out, I would sit and hit the back button to listen to this song two or more plays every single time I put the disc in.
Shaggrath made us smile by letting us know we had at least a couple more left, because I was not ready for their set to end. They did one of their best songs off of "Death Cult Armageddon" which was "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse". This was obviously a big favorite for most of the audience. Things went crazy in the pit and through out the huge hall. This was definitely a good choice for a concert closer as it looked like a lot of the people took themselves out on this one.
We lucked out with one final song however, they finished the set with an old favorite which they must enjoy doing live because they often end sets with it. "Mourning Palace" book ended the night with another song from "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant", and as with other songs of the show, this was the best rendition of it I have seen yet. I have to say, it was an awesome concert in every way. I am always impressed with these guys.
The band left the stage as the outro "Perfection or Vanity" played and the house lights came up. Unlike many shows in Los Angeles, where they usher you out the door immediately, no one left! They just stood there, some people started ordering more drinks even.
No one wanted to go home and I sat and talked with many people on my way out of the building. Lots of fans discussed the show excitedly and happy. A high number of mangled moshers dragged their sweaty bodies toward the front doors reluctantly.
It was interesting to hear everyone voice their opinions. Some people asked others what they thought of the new white outfits. No one disliked them, but some people were a bit taken back by the reversal and going against the trend as everyone in the audience, myself included, were donned in black.
I personally really like the new look, it symbolizes their entering the new era they spoke about, but also is a fitting warrior's garb when hailing from the northern realms of the midnight sun. I am going to stick with my wardrobe being the color of obsidian but I think they looked really cool in the frosted shades.
Every album builds and expands and delivers the goods and then the tour that follows, not only treats you to a massive amount of new material, but does it in a way that just cements your love for the new album even tighter. Pomona, being an hour drive from Los Angeles, allowed me to listen to the new album all the way through and then some again on the way home because I just wasn't done with Dimmu Borgir!
Some bands are good, some are great, and then there is Dimmu Borgir.
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