Originally written by Gregory Bradley.
The highly anticipated album from one of the biggest names in the underground heavy metal scene has arrived. In the true spirit of the three seemingly nonsensical words coupled together to form a creepy sounding album title, Dimmu Borgir’s Death Cult Armageddon is upon us in all of its satanic glory. From the super generic cover art to the fabulous symphony orchestra, this one is truly impressive. Does it live up to the hype, and more importantly, their previous masterpieces? Probably the first thing you will notice is the nearly omnipresent symphony orchestra. They recorded with the Prague Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, a 46-piece orchestra, and all of the arrangements are put together in a very cinematic and Danny Elfman-ish sort of way. In fact, the orchestra is so prevalent that it makes Death Cult Armageddon play like a movie soundtrack, I could swear I was watching Batman, Beetlejuice, or a similar Tim Burton film. Some may say that a symphony has no place in metal; those people have obviously not heard any Dimmu Borgir. This album urinates all over Metallica’s S&M album, and Dimmu didn’t even have to enlist the help of Michael Kamen. The metal parts of this album play excellently with the orchestra. There are tracks that have little to no orchestra at all, such as “Lepers Among Us”. Don’t think that the presence of a symphony means no keyboards, there are still plenty. In fact, the keyboard elements meld so seamlessly with the true orchestra that I had difficulty telling the difference between the two! I had to consciously try and find a difference between the two, which is excellent. Another great thing about this album – despite the orchestra and the band’s reputation for crystal clear production – is the fact that the production was intentionally left ever-so-slightly raw. We’re not talking about lawnmower black metal here, just a little rawness to give it that bite that they may have been missing for a while. This will satisfy both the new and old fans. The thing that may upset old-skool fans is the presence (albeit a very, VERY small one) of clean vocals. I believe they only appear on the songs “Allehelgens Dod I Helveds Rike” and “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse” though, and they are done quite well, with the latter ending up as my favorite song on the disc. If the single “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse” isn’t reason enough to buy this album, then maybe you’re just not a fan of Dimmu Borgir. I believe that the orchestra makes this album. Without it, Death Cult Armageddon would be just another keyboardy black metal disc. It’s chock full of excellent material, I see no reason how anyone could find fault with it. A wide array of song structures, lengths, and vocal styles make for one hell of a satanic offering. Death Cult Armageddon comes with a very high recommendation from yours truly.