For Dimmu Borgir, who haven’t released a full length album in over seven years, Eonian marks a shift for a band that have kind of been the butt of many black metal jokes for the best part of a decade. Dimmu Borgir make no apologies for their bombastic sound and on Eonian they fully embrace their theatrical side. Still, the Norwegian’s are making some of the best music they’ve offered for a long time and not since Death Cult Armageddon (2003) has the band sounded so on top of their game. Sure, In Sorte Diaboli (2007) was alright for the most part but Abrahadabra (2010) was terrible and signalled an extended period of quiet from the band.
Now, Shagrath and his crew are back and in Eonian they have a record that while never quite hitting the heights of career pinnacle Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (1997), still exudes a confidence not seen for some time. Of course, Dimmu Borgir know their place in the modern black metal arena and that the scene is not the way it was when they began twenty five years ago, and as such they have moved their sound down the symphonic route, crafting songs that reach to the heavens and contain a healthy dose of pomp and circumstance. In this regard, Dimmu Borgir are masters and black metal is now a distant friend but hey, all that corpse paint and leather is still around.
Eonian begins on a powerful mechanical and industrial beat with “The Unveiling,” before the track delves into more classic black metal guitars and Dimmu Borgir’s signature choral chants breach the walls – used more nowadays as clean vocals since ICS Vortex and his unique voice departed the band. Shagrath lays down husky, gruff vocals over the exceptional groove of “ÆTheric” which soon segues into massive synth-led structures and those choral elements that give the song a weirdly ecclesiastical slant – like going to church in the pits of hell. Still, this is a genuine high point on a record that is rollicking good fun. It’s made to be played loud, this is no solitary headphone listening deal, cranking the volume up is recommended wholeheartedly.
At almost one hour of run-time Eonian doesn’t outstay its welcome too much. It’s fast, well-paced in terms of song structures and holds the interest throughout. The choral vocals do grate at times, they are a perhaps relied on a little too heavily for drama, but Dimmu Borgir aren’t exactly ones to shy away from a spectacle. Here we have a band who embrace the melodramatic and at this point in their career they have little to prove. Eonian is a fun, rambunctious record; it's over the top, it sounds utterly massive and the devilish dynamics of "I Am Sovereign" are worth the cover price alone.
Lyrically the band touch on death and darkness and all the shades of despair found in between showing that despite the histrionics of the music, they still have depth in their words. Writing a catchy hook or melodic chorus shouldn't be the end of a band and Dimmu Borgir are adept at creating songs that while seemingly "silly" offer much in the way of intrigue in terms of the themes. Eonian might not be a true Norwegian black metal record, but it sure is a vibrant and entertaining ride.
7.5 / 10
Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:
Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.