Dimmu Borgir: In Sorte Diaboli

The biggest and most spectacular band of the sulphurous underworld is warming up for the release of their seventh album. Dimmu Borgir’s imminent “In Sorte Diaboli” is a global event, no less, for these masters of endarkening sound-waves are the closest thing the realm of black metal has to superstars.

Dimmu Borgir:

Chimera: an individual composed of tissue from several species. The chimera has always been associated with the utmost potency of evil forces, for the ability to create life is the mark of omnipotence and to create life that defies the divine creation, a chimera, is the thus ultimate mockery of God: the ultimate evil. Dimmu Borgir is such a chimera. This Norwegian band has from the start built upon a conception of their music and of the subject matter of black metal that diverges from most bands in this genre. They have been accused of being musically shifty; a hybrid allowing for elements that have no place in back metal. Yet they are without comparison the most successful band in their respective niche. This is because they seem to have a keen understanding the notion of evil in human psychology and human history.

As all clerics have always attested “The Prince of darkness is a gentleman”. What this means is simply that crude forms and manifestations of evil belong at the very bottom of the hierarchy of darkness. At the top evil triumphant is very likable; charming, alluring and thus holding sway over man. Most black metal bands will belong to the former category; striving to voice something simple; pure evil as they see it, base, harmless evil from a clergyman’s point of view. Dimmu Borgir, on the other hand, is exactely the citadel of darkness that their name refers to; (Dimmu Borgir means just this: dark citadel) manifesting in grandeur and interspersing their demonic message with contrary elements such as longing and even beauty. In this way they make for a more complex entity, and this complexity is what strikes home; for it accommodates people’s imagination of the demonic as grand, sweeping and alluring. Like no other band they manage to fuse the transcendent elements of music; the symphonic, tragic, beautiful and spine-tingling with the infernal hammering of drums and guitars and the dark-primal screeching and wailing of a tormented voice.

Another trait they use to great effect is to create a melange of language and symbolism, which, however artificial and mock, nevertheless caters to a global audience by juxtaposing all manners of different devilish semantics. Their corpus thus mixes the unholy sounding language of Norwegian with extravagant English and infernal Latin, -as with the new record title “In Sorte Diaboli”. The imagery of Dimmu Borgir is a melange of medieval demonic symbolism, nuclear cataclysmic visions, industrial gloom and 21 century debauchery. The ancient and modern notions of darkness merge in a grand, swirling tempest. The loftiness of the symphonic parts that intersperse the music; the arrogance of grandeur in juxtaposition to torment and damnation, and not least, the ceremonial perfection of their execution is what makes Dimmu Borgir more akin to the Prince of darkness than the simple poltergeists that only growl. Or at least so one can argue, as those would who see the band’s success as the primary indication of the depth of their evil: More than a million copies sold worldwide is not a demonic trifle, it is a challenge, and a challenge that some take up: Protests from the God- fearing, demands for prohibitions and accusations of blasphemy are almost everyday for the band. This they say they find very amusing, and from an objective standpoint it is, juxtaposed with their sales, another indication of their having unearthed with their expression a deep-running nerve of the human psyche.

In Sorte Diaboli will be released in America –Dimmu Borgir’s primary market- on April 24th, and in most of Europe a few days later. By then a Behemoth tour has commenced, flowing as a dark, zigzagging river across the map of North America. Big venues await, and big crowds, for Dimmu Borgir’s “Invaluable Darkness 07 Tour” is literally “Darkness coming to town”.

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