Dimmu Borgir

Live at The Grove: Anaheim, CA on 04/16/2008

review by Travis Baumann

I have been a fan of these guys for years and have somehow managed to miss them every time they have played up until now. These guys are the reason I got into Black Metal at all. They incorporate so much into their music; everything from classical choirs, epic orchestrations, industrialized electronics, uniquely processed vocals, and even operatic male backing vocals. There is something so full and powerful about their music that it leaves me in awe of their craft.

Their set started as Mustis and the drummer (not Hellhammer, he apparently broke his arm) took the stage after Nicholas Cage's son, Westin introduced them. The Intro was fittingly epic as two twisted pope-like censor bearers came in from the sides of stage. Finally Shaggrath took to the platform between keyboards and drums and raised his fists, horns pointed skyward. As roars and cheers ushered from the audience, Galdar, Vortex, and Silenoz came out with their axes.

The actual set started with a tumultuous blast as they went into an older track I had trouble placing. It was apparently "Spellbound (By the Devil)" off of "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant". It sounded awesome with the dual guitars, classical keyboard work from Mustis, and the heavy bass of Vortex.

Shaggrath has the best vocals of the genre in my opinion and I love the way he plays with vocal distortion and variance in his delivery unlike other bands. They immediately went into "In Death's Embrace" off of that same album which garnered a lot of cheering.

For our final song in the photo pit they did "The Serpentine Offering" from the new album "In Sorte Diaboli". They had a huge screen behind them on which played portions of the video mixed with other imagery. I think the new album is absolutely fantastic so I was glad that once they went into the new material, they barely relented except to play a song off of older albums here and there.

I was amazed by the sound and how awesome it was live. Galdar and Silenoz are amazing guitarists and at one point they played side by side but different parts, harmonizing and complementing in a way that gets lost on disc at times. I love live keyboards and Mustis is amazing, perhaps a virtuoso but regardless, he definitely pulls the band out of genre clichés and puts them in a league of their own as do all the members.

Next they played "The Chosen Legacy" again off of the new album and this is the song that features the chorus with the album title in it. As they chant "In Sorte Diaboli" the screen becomes all fire with the words emblazoned above their heads. They followed this up with "The Sinister Awakening" with Shaggrath singing, "For what I cannot fulfill, my destiny completes." I love this song, especially the chorus choir parts of "Antichristos Spiritualis"! That may be my favorite song of the set but every song sounded amazing.

Everyone but Mustis and the drummer left the stage and they went into "The Fallen Arises" the cool, moody instrumental from the new album. During this song, the screen showed ancient manuscripts and arcane occult symbols and imagery that magnified the atmosphere. The rest of the band returned and like an aural assault, they blasted into "Maelstrom Mephisto" off of "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia", which is a very powerful song.

The next song on the set was even older, going back to "Spiritual Black Dimensions" for "The Blazing Monoliths of Defiance". The older material was readily recognizable but was even more powerful and precise with the current line-up of members as well as the newer vein of delivery.

They switched back to newer material transitioning into "The Sacrilegious Scorn" another of my favorites from the new album. This has a great sing-along ability with the chorus "The time has come to stand up and take back what you took from me!" They followed it up with "Fundamental Alienation".

At this point, Shaggath said they were going to slow it down and do one for all the ladies in the audience called "A Succubus in Rapture" off of "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant". It was slower but certainly not slow. They then broke into "The Insight and the Catharsis" from "Spiritual Black Dimensions" after which they left the stage.

Following a thunderous, roaring chant for Dimmu Borgir to return to the stage, they came back out. Shaggrath said "You might know this one" and they broke into "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse" the only song of the entire set from the phenomenal album "Death Cult Armageddon".

The next song was absolutely my favorite song of the set. Shaggrath announced "Puritania" and everyone cheered. I recently saw Ministry live and this version of "Puritania" was more industrial than any song of Ministry's set. The electronic distortion on Shaggrath's voice was awesome. The keyboards were epic and powerful and when the guitars blasted in with precision and anger they just swept you away. It was a great song and was one of the first songs of theirs I ever heard and attached to many years ago.

They finished up the set with "Mourning Palace" off of "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant" and everyone was pretty much left wanting more but alas, that was it. I was really just pleased, grinning ear to ear as I walked out.

Having never seen them before, there were at least a dozen songs I would have loved to see live but I really do appreciate when a band is proud of, and focuses on, their new material.

I was surprised at how much stuff came off of "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant" and also that they did not do a single song in Norwegian so nothing off of "Stormblast" or any songs like "Vredesbyrd".

I am glad they did a lot of songs that featured Vortex's vocals as his operatic style is unique and mixes so well with the aggressive delivery of Shaggrath.

I would definitely recommend anyone who has ever liked Dimmu Borgir to check them out live if they have not done so. They are fantastic live and are larger than life in person.

They are the closest things to superstars this scene has and although some people have given them flack over the years, they are better now than they have ever been in my opinion and are an awesome band, even more so in a live context.

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