Label: Nuclear Blast Records
I can’t help but think that Dimmu Borgir have become the Jean-Claude Van Damme of symphonic black metal. For those who care for the kind of thing they do, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be found in their respective careers; but also a few duff moments, too. In Sorte Diaboli probably best demonstrates (and succeeds at) this idea of black metal as big budget, no-brains entertainment; the black metal version of Timecop or Universal Soldier, completely unoriginal, and unloved by critics, but – for those who are in to that sort of thing – a solid slice of entertainment.
And like Jean-Claude Van Damme, there’s been a considerable period that has not been kind to Dimmu Borgir. Their new single, Interdimensional Summit, feels like the black metal equivalent of those Coors Light commercials; lovingly self-mocking, done with a wink and a nod, but somehow quite soulless. The departure of ICS Vortex robbed Dimmu of one of their best elements, with his clean vocals providing an excellent contrast to Shagrath’s rasp and the moments of overblown bombast that the band are best known for. Listening back to In Sorte Diaboli, it’s notable how many of its best moments are provided by his vocals (chiefly on ‘The Sacrilegious Scorn’); and it’s also notable how the album strives so hard not to be dark, or evil, but to be that most un-kvlt of things – to be enjoyable.