Dimmu Borgir - Gateways (Single)
Nuclear Blast
Symphonic Black Metal
1 songs (5:10)
Release year: 2010
Dimmu Borgir, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Tyler

Any metal fan worth his/her salt knows a thing or two about Norwegian Black Metal. By the same token, if you know anything about that infamous scene, the first thing you learned about is more than likely the controversy surrounding the scene. Varg, Dead, Euronymous, churches, most of Emperor, Call of the Wintermoon; it was these men, these actions that grabbed the music world by the throat and forced it to look upon the macabre, fascinating world that is the Norwegian Black Metal of the 90s. Since then, however, the black metal world has been relatively scandal free, with a few notable exceptions (Gaahl torturing dudes, Nergal burning Bibles, Darkthrone playing punk).

As such, it makes sense that in 2009, it was the world’s most successful Norwegian Black Metal’s band, Dimmu Borgir, that would start grabbing some headlines unrelated to the band’s music. Unfortunately for the band, however, the controversy has been far removed from the dangerous, mystique-filled exploits of those 90s pioneers. Instead, these stories have shed a far from flattering light on the band. The trouble started last August when the band announced that bassist/clean vocalist ICS Vortex and keyboard player Mustis had been fired from the band. The two fired back with statements that, frankly, made the rest of the band sound like a bunch of dicks. Mustis claimed that he had been fired by text message, and ICS Vortex posting on his blog, “I will always treasure the albums and the brotherhood as it was before the cabin fever, music industry and greed went Metallica on our asses.” After firing the two long time members, the band announced that it had brought in a full scale orchestral and choir to play on the album, and that there would be over one hundred total musicians on the album. The news went from questionable to silly when on August 24th, it was announced that Snowy Shaw, the Swedish multi-instrumentalist currently serving as vocalist for the band Therion, would be serving as Dimmu’s new bassist. Promo shots were released, and all seemed fine. That is until the next day, when it was announced that Snowy had left the band to rejoin Therion. Pretty bizarre stuff, although neither party has released an actual statement saying, “Snowy has quit Dimmu”, leading some to speculate he is actually still in the band.

Despite the band seemingly enduring some inner instability, the band released the first track from its new album, Abrahadabra, on August 20th. Entitled Gateways, the track is the first taste of the new Dimmu and the first bit of new music since the band’s 2007 epic In Sorte Diaboli. The track itself is about as strange as the news surrounding it. Right from the onset, it is clear that Dimmu is certainly making sure that they get there moneys worth in regards to that full scale choir and orchestra. The choir leads off, followed by a pretty awesome orchestral piece and some typical palm mute/double bass accompaniment. The first features vocalist Shagrath alternating between spoken vocals and his typical raspy growl (which sounds as strong as ever). The lyrics certainly aren’t jolly, but the music has an odd, movie soundtrack feel, with the orchestra bouncing around almost playfully behind Dimmu’s metal. After a brief choir bridge, things begin to get a little strange. The sound of so many nails being grinded against a chalkboard screeches its way into the track, and after the auditory equivalent of a double-take, that sound reveals itself to be the vocals of female guest Agnete Kjølsrud, I’m not sure what the band was thinking here; the vocals here are among the most annoying I have ever had the displeasure of listening to. I can only imagine a petite girl not a pound over 90 holding her nose and trying to scream into a mic. The vocals get a little less annoying, eventually, but that first scream really puts a damper on what is, up to that point, a pretty interesting track.

Once the ill-advised female vocals are gone, the band starts to redeem themselves with a nice solo (presumably courtesy of Galder), a cool spoken part with some ambient orchestration behind it, and another cool guitar hook before returning to the verse. Instead of making us endure those female vocals again, a blast- beat actually comes as a welcome surprise in comparison to the rest of the relatively reserved track. Following the blast-beat, Shagrath duets with the female vocalist, with him doing a spoken part followed by her doing a singing part. She actually sounds much better here, and it works quite well. It ends the song in a truly epic fashion, and it is easily the highlight of the track.

Brief vocal train wrecks and perhaps too many spoken vocals aside, Gateways is a pretty interesting song. It is certainly not business as usual for Dimmu Borgir, and it has me interested to hear the rest of Abrahadabra, due out September 24th on Nuclear Blast. However, I actually hope this track isn’t indicative of the rest of the album; I want to hear more riffs, more growls, maybe a little less orchestration, and for the love of God, no more of that female vocalist trying to scream. Time will tell if the controversy surrounding the band will affect the new album negatively, but at the very least, it has got me quite excited to write my review in September/October.

Killing Songs :
Tyler quoted no quote
Other albums by Dimmu Borgir that we have reviewed:
Dimmu Borgir - Eonian reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Dimmu Borgir - Spiritual Black Dimensions reviewed by Tyler and quoted 88 / 100
Dimmu Borgir - Abrahadabra reviewed by Tyler and quoted 87 / 100
Dimmu Borgir - The Invaluable Darkness DVD reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Dimmu Borgir - In Sorte Diaboli reviewed by Dylan and quoted 79 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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