Review: Dimmu Borgir – Forces Of The Northern Night

Written by: Sven Bröker

Have you ever wondered what it would sound like if the final battle between heaven and hell came over us? Well, the Norwegian band Dimmu Borgir created exactly this scenario during two live show a few years ago, when they played a sold-out show in 2011 in Oslo featuring Kringkastingsorkestret (the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Choir) and another special show in 2012 at Wacken Open Air featuring National Czech Symphonic Orchestra.

The upcoming release, Forces Of The Northern Night, combines the recordings of both shows as well as a bunch of behind the scenes footage. The CD which was added to some of the release options contains the whole recording of Dimmu Borgir’s show at Spektrum Oslo.

The whole Oslo experiences begins with the intro Xibir of Dimmu Borgir’s latest album Abrahadabra and offers a small portion of what the orchestra and choir are going to offer, you can already hear the tension in the crowd. Following the rather calm intro Dimmu Borgir enter the stage and open the night with the next track of Abrahadabra Born Treacherous, which delivers a massive Black Metal sound with a few added notes from the orchestra and choir.
Already with the next track Gateways Dimmu Borgir come up with a special surprise by inviting Agnete Kjølsrud, luckily her band, Djerv, also played at Wacken Open Air so that this duet could be supported by an orchestra and choir a second time. To get an idea of this huge collaboration of almost 100 musicians Nuclear Blast offers a video and digital single of this track.

After this blasting track the hall becomes uncomfortably quiet while the orchestra and choir on their own start playing an orchestral version of the self-titled track Dimmu Borgir. After a few seconds the crowd gets caught by these classical tunes and supports them with applause. And the Black Metal guys join the stages to play the song in its complete form, which makes the crowd go crazy once Shargath calls the forces of the northern night to arms. A guitar solo which is immediately followed by a beautiful violin part shows that the orchestra does not have to hide behind the brutal metalheads and their guitars.

With Chess With The Abyss Dimmu Borgir take over most of the attention with the songs heavy but rhythmic guitars and the crowd joins the song with massive screams which are followed by the elegant sound of the choir. During Ritualist Dimmu Borgir bring some extra speed into the show, the mixture of heavy guitars and the orchestra sounds like a competition which is only interrupted by the choir with their ritual vocals.

In their next song A Jewel Traced Through Coal Dimmu Borgir steal the crowd‘s attention with extremely strong guitar tunes and hard drum base sounds. The crowd gets pulled in once more to support the orchestra during this rather calm piece.

Following this massive range of Abrahadabra songs Dimmu Borgir go back in time to play Eradication Instincts Definded from their 2003 release Death Cult Armageddon, which gives the orchestra and choir it’s well deserved spotlight within the show. After this short break without heavy guitars and drums Dimmu Borgir blast out the song Vredesbyrd, the heaviest song up to this point, which is gloriously supported by the orchestra’s violins. With Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse Dimmu Borgir plays another song that was already recorded with orchestra and choir and shines in its full glory.

From the first second of The Serpentine Offering the crowd shows its enthusiasm for the older songs and screams for a sacrifice as if a real ritual took place in the hall.

Fear And Wonder lets the light shine on the choir and orchestra once more, they create a calm introduction to the upcoming Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia (2001) songs Kings Of The Carnival Creation and Puritania.
The night ends with an all-time classic from Dimmu Borgir Mourning Palace, which once more proves the symbiotic relationship between Black Metal and classical music. You can find a video single of this song from the before mentioned show at Wacken Open Air.

The orchestra and choir close the night on their own with Dimmu Borgir’s outro Perfection or Vanity.

All in all, Forces Of The Northern Night is a huge step in Dimmu Borgir’s legacy of combining Black Metal with orchestral tunes and choirs and it is a pleasure to hear and see a metal band and orchestra and choir appreciate each other’s work. This is the way Dimmu Borgir’s music is supposed to sound, probably a dream come true for Shagrath, Silenoz and Galder.

But for those who have been disappointed by having two old show as Dimmu Borgir’s next release after such a long absence this is only a first glimpse of the bands activities this year since they have already entered the studio to record their next album.

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