Itís not very underground to be saying this, but this is the best black metal record that I own. There are a lot of hardcore black metal fans that constantly tag this cd as sellout and fake. I realize that this is not a ďrealĒ black metal record because it doesnít sound like shit, like it was recorded and produced by an alcoholic devil worshipper in some grim and frostbitten Norwegian basement. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but they need to reconsider on this. Enthrone Darkness Triumphant is a fucking masterpiece and it represents what a really talented band is capable of when it stops caring what the fashionable underground think of them.
Dimmu Borgir is working in a sound that is based in their already well established Norwegian black metal style but also brings elements of doom metal, thrash, and classical music to the table to augment the more extreme elements of their sound. Itís nothing that hasnít been previously done by Cradle of Filth and Emperor, but Dimmu Borgir has built upon the work of their peers and developed their own take on the genre to a devastating effect. Keyboards are really up front on this album, more so than any other black metal recording I have heard. The vocals sound very evil with the typical throat shredding screams. However they do have some real depth and tone on this record, and are capable of conveying genuine emotion on songs like Mourning Palace and Prudenceís Fall. Itís not easy to be emotionally engaging with full out death shrieks but this guy pulls it off and his style fits the tone of the music perfectly, evil and dark but also overwhelmingly sad and tormented at the same time. Like their frequent touring partners Cradle of Filth, they go for atmosphere above all else, really pushing the keyboards up in the mix and creating some haunting almost doom metal atmospherics on songs like Mourning Palace and In Deathís Embrace. And the brutal thrash breakdowns on Master of Disharmony and Tormenter are as good as anything Metallica ever wrote. The way the keyboards interact and drive the guitar melodies on Prudenceís Fall, playing slow and deliberate minor chord progressions over two minutes of guitar solo, augments the brutally destructive nature of the vocals and the blastbeat sections. The way that the synth lines mirror the chaos and horror of these harsher sections by frantically keeping pace with the drums while anchoring the music in melody is not something that many bands this extreme could pull off. The way brutal blastbeats and doom metal power chord progressions are traded off with light piano flourishes on Tormenter of Christian Souls provides a stunning example of how true art can come out of the most extreme genre of music ever created.
The extremity of black metal in general provides it with a blank check for chaos. There is really no limit to what can be done with music that has already pushed the envelope as far as it will go. By trying to destroy music and bring it back to itís basest roots, black metal has unwittingly opened new doors and pushed the limits out a little further. And if bands in this genre were free to explore the options available to them, there is no limit to what can be done with this style of music. Dimmu Borgir has created a musical hybrid of various styles on this album and gained some real ground for their genre by questioning the limitations placed upon it by the less imaginative elements of the scene. Sometime in the next couple of years when America moves past its questionable obesession with bad rap metal and whiny bitches, and black metal finally breaks big in this country, Dimmu Borgir will be the band behind it. While people who practice looking evil in the mirror and take pictures of themselves not smiling in the woods will inevitably cry sellout, the fact remains that this is a great fucking record and should be appreciated at face value for that fact alone. Listen to it again, five fucking stars for Enthrone Darkness Triumphant.* * * * * Reviewed: November, 2003