Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia
Hot damn, what an all-star lineup Dimmu Borgir have assembled for Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia: Despite having lost a couple members in the two short years since the preceding Spiritual Black Dimensions, the Borgir boys have added to their ranks former Cradle Of Filth skinsman Nick Barker, guitarist Galder (concurrent leader of Old Man's Child), and, on bass and backing vocals, ex-Borknagar frontman/four-stringer I.C.S Vortex. However, it's no small feat that these additions never threaten to eclipse or overshadow the songs themselves on Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, but perhaps these men were the extra, little kick in the leather pants needed to flesh out the sextet's sound. Granted, Dimmu Borgir's cards, for the most part, have been in place since 1996's Stormblast, yet the band's latest offering finally manages to surpass the ever-present hype and plagiarism that have swelled up around them and threatened to swallow whole any artistic merit inherent in their aesthetic.
As intermittently glimpsed on the aforementioned Dimensions, Dimmu Borgir really cook shit up, and fine, when they slow things down to a discernible pace, as in a classic-metal mid-tempo or those sweaty thrash ones that hint at their influences (Sodom, Dark Angel, Destruction, etc.). Here, the latter are more in abundance and hyper-blast tempos roughly only crop up a third of the time, and both instances are certainly a good thing, especially when they're butted up against those meandering, foggy atmospheres just lingering above and around the decibels being shredded. Speaking of atmosphere, Vortex's occasional vocals work both as instrument and voice, bearing that black mark that earmarked Borknagar as true individuals, yet integrated seamlessly and space-clouded into Dimmu's diminutive foundation, and more distinctively than his guest ones on Misanthropia's predecessor. To some, Fredrik (In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Arch Enemy) Nordstrom's production, which downplays the atmosphere for cold guitar tones here, may strike many as squeaky clean and perhaps sterile, but to these ears, it exudes class, stealth, and precision, all three ideals by now worth pursuing in black metal, circa 2001. And thatís why Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia succeeds: It lodges Dimmu Borgir as serious musicians pursuing serious ideals instead of just another gothed-up vehicle through which T-shirts and other "shocking" merchandise get peddled, which certainly could have been once argued for (the latter, pejorative element, that is). Two final thoughts: kudos on the killer cover of Twisted Sister's finest moment ("Burn In Hell"), but what's up with the three-word album titles (add For All Tid and Enthrone Darkness Triumphant to the list)?
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Nathan T. Birk