Dimmu Borgir have been unapologetic in their pursuit of lush black metal soundscapes, and album after album they have escalated their symphonic explorations and choral accouterments with unabashed intent. Clearly nothing has changed over the eight years since the band’s last  studio album, 2010’s Abrahadabra. In fact, the vast orchestration seems to have eviscerated even the most steadfast of bones found in their once-heaving body on Eonian.

It’s little surprise that these Norwegians, who once staked their own flag among the black metal elite with Stormblåst, have arrived at such a mysterious and grandiose place. In the live setting, they have continued to add musicians to the fray to recreate the magnitude of their studio-refined sound. While impressive from a high level, what’s left on Eonian is a shadow of what Dimmu Borgir once were. Shagrath‘s vengeful sneer is lost in the choral arrangements on “The Unveiling,” and Silenoz‘s and Galder‘s fretwork are overshadowed by throat-singing and electro-nuances on “Council of Wolves and Snakes.” There are inventive moments when Dimmu Borgir expose their dark souls once again, particularly on the riff heavy “Lightbringer,” but even here, the band’s soundtrack is more Harry Potter than Necronomicon.

Dimmu Borgir have earned a great deal of respect from fans and critics alike by expanding their sound beyond their black metal roots, venturing into loftier spaces where the decadent meets the highbrow. Unfortunately, Eonian is quick to become background music, much like the classical station playing from grandma’s radio.

Eonian is out May 4 on Nuclear Blast Entertainment. Buy it here!

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