Vol. 2, Issue #11 June 22nd - June 28th, 2007

Dimmu Borgir: Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be!
By: Ryk Weston

Very few black metal bands in existence can claim to make a living from what they do, and even fewer can step up to the plate to deliver nearly infallible music. As Norway’s leading black metal act, Dimmu Borgir have been able to hit homeruns nearly every single inning. Truth be told, nobody saw this coming. Not even the harshest of critic would have ever foreseen black metal to reach such standards in the music industry, but a decade later we are seeing Grammy nominations and Billboard topping releases from these European bad boys of metal. Case in point is Dimmu Borgir’s latest opus, In Sorte Diaboli, which hit #43 in America’s Billboard and Number One in Norway. Says guitarist Silenoz, “It’s amazing. I still think it’s pretty unheard of, but it’s cool though. It just shows that more and more people are getting int this type of music.”

Having formed in the early ‘90s when black metal was first spreading it’s unholy wings in the underground, a small group of Norwegian metal fiends began work on spreading the word of black metal. They formed Dimmu Borgir which according to Silenoz was more than just picking random names from the Satanic Bible. “It’s actually a lava formation in Iceland”, explains Silenoz. “Dimmu Borgir is an Icelandic name, so it means basically “the dark city”. It’s an actual place in Iceland but it also has specific stories connected to it. It’s supposed to be one of the gates to Hell. It’s quite an unusual name and that’s why we took it back in the day.”

Having just completed a small U.S. tour and are now currently making rounds in Europe, Silenoz expresses excitement of returning to the States for another round. “I like touring here just as much as Europe”, exclaims Silenoz. “We definitely want to come back and push this album a little bit more because this tour we haven’t played too many songs from this album. The album wasn’t even out when we played the first few shows of this tour, so it makes more sense to play more new stuff next time around.”

The album which Silenoz speaks of is admittedly the band’s finest work to date. In Sorte Diaboli is without a doubt a genuine landmark in black metal releases, and has been labeled as a sort of “concept album” due to the story which surrounds the album. Though the album tells the story of a priest who begins questioning his faith only to find inherit links to the dark side, one might argue that In Sorte Diaboli reads much more as a story than a concept figure. “I would rather use the term “story album” because that’s basically what it is”, says Silenoz. “I had the idea for doing something different like 2 or 3 years ago. The lyrics and the story were pretty much finished before we began writing music for this album. It took shape over time. I had the idea that this ficitional character is being deceived and finally gets his revenge when he reconnects with his true identity which is the darker side. It’s personal in many ways too, because I’ve been in familiar situations where I was told that religion was really good for you when you find out by yourself that it’s not so. That’s the main point to the story anyway.”

With one of the finest lineups you could ask for in a black metal band (drumming courtesy of Hellhammer of Mayhem), Dimmu Borgir is suddenly hearing the words “supergroup” in nearly interview they’ve done thus far. Silenoz is quick to dispose of such a notion. “I don’t want to use the term “supergroup” because I just know us as a bunch of goofballs, you know?”, Silenoz says with a hearty laugh. “I don’t think we’re particularly great on our instruments, but once we get together and out our ideas together...we make something special. We know how to write good songs and that’s it.”

And it certainly shows on In Sorte Diaboli. The entireity of the disc sounds much more stripped down and more like a jam session than their previous release, Death Cult Armageddon. “We still use a lot of sequencing programs and stuff like that, but with this album particularly we went back to basics, more of the old school way, just jamming in the rehearsal space. I think that makes it sound more spontaneous”, says Silenoz. “I’m sure a lot of people think with each album that we get more and more pressure, but as soon as you start thinking that, what the label wants from you and whatever, then it’s doomed. You just have to work that out and work in whatever you believe in. So far that’s what seems to be working.”


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