Album Review: Dimmu Borgir – Eonian

Up until 2010, Norwegian symphonic black metal stalwarts Dimmu Borgir were quite prolific in their studio output, having released nine full-length albums within a span of 15 years. Since then, they have attempted to create and complete material for the next album, but due to the band members’ personal lives as well as other factors, things kept getting delayed and pushed back. 8 years later, the tenth Dimmu Borgir studio album ‘Eonian’ has finally been released. In the metal world, there have been many such instances of bands releasing a new album after a long gap. In some cases it’s turned out to be worth the wait, in other cases it hasn’t. Unfortunately, when it comes to Dimmu Borgir’s ‘Eonian’, it’s the latter.

For starters, Dimmu Borgir shed the “true black metal” tag fairly early in their career, and have undoubtedly established themselves as perhaps the most prominent symphonic black metal band on earth over the past two decades. So, it’s not like anyone expected a new album by Dimmu Borgir to be devoid of symphonic layers. Apparently, guitarist and principal songwriter Silenoz’ primary focus on ‘Eonian’ was to enhance both extremes of Dimmu Borgir’s sonic repertoire, i.e. the symphonic metal and black metal. It was a brilliant idea in theory, but its execution and treatment on the eventual product tells a vastly different tale. The symphonic layers are far too dominant, even by diehard Dimmu Borgir fans’ standards, and largely overused. This has to be the happiest album this band has released till date, which is a strange statement to put in a Dimmu Borgir album review, but an appropriate one in this case. Whether the happy atmosphere is deliberate or not, it is hard to tell, but the often excellently crafted symphonic black metal darkness of previous albums, which garnered Dimmu Borgir their massive fan-base in the first place, is almost completely missing from ‘Eonian’. In all honesty, at times it is difficult to even classify this as heavy metal.

Opening track ‘The Unveiling’ is very much that, an accurate precursor to what follows on this 10-track, 54-minute slab of overbearing symphonic cheese. ‘Interdimensional Summit’ sounds like a gothic industrial rock tune laden with orchestral layers. ‘ÆTheric’ attempts to be epic with its usage of choir passages, but misses the mark and sounds gimmicky instead. Continuing on through the album, each song has its brief sporadic moments of quality, but is ruined by misplaced symphonic layers. This pattern establishes itself as the album progresses. For example, when you listen to songs like ‘Council of Wolves and Snakes’ and ‘The Empyrean Phoenix’, it is clear that there are half-decent black metal parts but both songs are thwarted by excessive choir usage. Other songs on the album suffer a similar fate, whether it be from the choir, or keys, or both.

It is hard to imagine even the staunchest fans of Dimmu Borgir or symphonic metal having the patience and desire to sit through this entire album. May be if you’re into gothic orchestral dance rock, you would find some enjoyment in this one. This is less Dimmu Borgir and more a lovechild of Nightwish and Rammstein. One would hope this isn’t an indicator of the direction Dimmu Borgir is moving in, because ‘Eonian’ is a colossal mess.

– by Andrew Bansal

Rating: 3/10

Record Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: May 4 2018

Track Listing:
01. The Unveiling (5:47)
02. Interdimensional Summit (4:39)
03. ÆTheric (5:27)
04. Council of Wolves and Snakes (5:19)
05. The Empyrean Phoenix (4:44)
06. Lightbringer (6:06)
07. I Am Sovereign (6:48)
08. Archaic Correspondence (4:55)
09. Alpha Aeon Omega (5:18)
10. Rite of Passage (5:16)

Total Duration: 54:19

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