Dimmu Borgir (1993-present): a Black Metal band from Oslo, Norway.
amed after an Icelandic lava flow, the members of Dimmu Borgir, using the names Shagrath (drums/vocals), Erkekjetter Silenoz (guitar/vocals) and Tjodalv (guitar), set about to merge good ole Wagner style classical music with good ole fashioned black metal music. Independently releasing their debut EP Inn I Evighetens (Into The Eternity Of Darkness; 1994), the record promptly sold out, encouraging the hasty release of their debut album For All Tid (1995) on the 'No Colors' label with newly recruited members Brynjard Tristan (bass) and Stian Aarstad (synthesizer /piano/effects). Both albums were only released in Norway. At this point there was a band shuffle in the works with Shagrath and Tjodalv swapping instruments, and with Silenoz still a member they added Nagash (ex-Kovenant/ex-Troll) joining on bass. Stian was also gone for a required stint in the Norwegian army and wouldn't return until late 1996.
The mini Devil's Path was released in early 1996 on 'Hot', a label Shagrath was employed with at the time. The move also lead to their albums being released in English, a move intended to give them more of an international appeal but Shagrath's gargling vocals remained unintelligible all the same. Stormblast, also released that same year on the 'Cacophonous' label was much in the same style of its predecessor, years later the band would claim over the internet that it was one of the most important albums in the history of black metal but the jury has never returned a verdict on the subject and probably won't in an effort to be political on the matter. The album would be re-released as Stormblast MMV in 2005.
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Australian ex-Lord Kaos guitarist Astennu replaced the once-again departing Stian for their Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (1997) release, an album that featured the Tormentor Of Christian Souls, a track whose lyrics were deliberately omitted in the CD booklet by the request of their new label 'Nuclear Blast' to avoid controversy. The lyrics were available by writing to the band directly. Many in the underground press cited the album as the best black metal of the century, a clear attempt at hyperbole since no black metal existed before 1980! It was yet another example of how an arguably good act was destined to become a caricature of itself by the over-indulgent press.
Shagrath would now assume only the vocals duties for the follow-up set Godless Savage Garden (1998), an album that came and went in much the same style of its predecessor. The album was released during a time of membership upheaval, as was Spiritual Black Dimensions (1999) that saw Mustis take over the piano and synthesizer and ICS Vortex (Real Name: Simen Hestnaes;ex-Old Man's Child/ex-Borknagar) replaced Nagash on bass, Nick Barker (ex-Cradle Of Filth) replaced Tjodalv who left to join Seven Sins, and Galder (a.k.a. Grusom;ex-Old Man's Child) replaced Astennu so he could join Carpe Tenebrum.
In 1999 Dimmu Borgir participated in a split album with Old Man's Child titled Sons Of Satan Gather For Attack while their truly dastardly evil deeds were reserved for their own Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia (2000), an album that thrashed and flared in all the right places with plenty of evil blasphemy growled forth. The album even featured the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, following the trend of including classical music in Metal that was popular at the turn of the century.
In 2003, Dimmu Borgir recorded Death Cult Armageddon. Death Cult Armageddon was recorded with the Prague Philarmonic Orchestra, conducted by Adam Klemens and feature the membership of Shagrath (vocals), Galder (guitar), Silenoz (guitar), Vortex (bass) and Mustis (keyboards).
In Sorte Diaboli would be released April 2007. A special edition version was released in a boxed set including a DVD, backward-printed lyrics, and a mirror [presumably to read the lyrics] and featured, once more, the drumming of Mayhem's Hellhammer. Blomberg left in mid-tour in 2007 because of a neck injury resulting in limited movement of his right arm. This album gave Dimmu Borgir the title of the first black metal band with a number one album in their native country.
In 2009, members ICS Vortex and Mustis announced their separate departures. Mustis, for his part, released a statement claiming his disfavor with the band, specifically that he was not properly credited for his writing contributions to the band's music.
Abrahadabra (2010) featured an ensemble orchestra, the Kringkastingsorkestret (the Norwegian Radio Orchestra), as well as the Schola Cantorum choir, totaling more than 100 musicians and singers. A promotional image was also released showing Shagrath returning to the keyboards.
May 2011 saw Dimmu Borgir perform live with a full symphony orchestra and choir in a one-off show with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Schola Cantorum Choir (both who collaborated on Abrahadabra the previous year) at the Oslo Spectrum entitled Forces of the Northern Night. This was broadcast live on Norway's main national TV carrier NRK. It was the first live performance with an orchistra for the band. A similar show the following year at the Wacken Open Air festival followed as a second live show with a symphony orchestra and choir. This time, they were accompanied by the Czech National Orchestra with the same choir, being the second band in the festival's history to play with a live orchestra and choir. The show was broadcast live on Germany's Kultur TV arts channel.
Eonian followed in 2018.
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