The Invaluable Darkness Tour would be the title of the event and how fitting this would be to mark the triumphant return of Dimmu Borgir to New York City. We had not seen them since the Ozzfest in 2004 which found them as one of the main stage attractions alongside the original Black Sabbath, Slayer, and a reunited Judas Priest with Rob Halford. This incredible Final Four of Metal made this particular Ozzfest perhaps the best one in years past and to come. As someone who attended this show I felt that it definitely raised the larger public awareness of the incredible music and showmanship that Dimmu possesses. Before the referenced Ozzfest I had only caught Dimmu Borgir once before at the now defunct L'Amour in Brooklyn. This particular show was reinforcing my belief that Metal was indeed back with vengeance for I was in a jam-packed club with about an 800 person capacity and opening the show would be Nevermore, Children Of Bodom and Hypocrisy!!! Yikes, give me more lineups like this one please. After a truly killer and brutalizing set that supported their new album of the time (Death Cult Armageddon) I could hardly wait to come back and see what the club would have in store for the Metal faithful next. Sadly, they would close forever only a few weeks after this show but lucky for Metal fans in New York venues like the B.B. King Blues Club and Nokia Theatre would pick up the slack with apparent ease. Tonight, the tour would make a stop at The Nokia Theatre - a great venue for this kind of event with their spacious stage and room for a couple of thousand screaming Metal fans. It would also feature Kataklysm, Devildriver and Unearth as support. The mighty Dimmu would be celebrating their newest release on Nuclear Blast Records In Sorte Diaboli.
Read on for Ken Pierce's and Pete Pardo's full review of the April 26th show!
Ken Pierce: Kataklysm would come up first and I have to say they were really impressing me tonight. I had only caught them once before and I did not remember liking them all that much since there was such a weird sound of the room it was. The Nokia is pretty close to being one of the better sounding venues and perhaps this is because of it being a movie theatre at one time. For the lead off band I was giving high kudos to Kataklysm since they were owning the stage with ease and I vowed to look a little deeper into their music. It was also impressive to see most of the fans in the venue already as everyone there was seeking the best spot for when Dimmu Borgir would hit the stage. They would be supporting their own latest release on Nuclear Blast Records entitled In The Arms Of Devastation and in the live sense this stuff was even more powerful than on recording. Always a good thing to realize.
Devildriver was next up and these guys are fronted by Dez formerly of Coal Chamber. I admit right now that I never liked CC and even having seen them on several tours with other bands they just never did it for me. Devildriver on the other hand is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to a current Metal scene aggression that has roots in the Traditional Thrash Metal movement of the eighties. Dez also seems more energetic and aggressive as he performs with this group and from the moment they hit the stage the circle pits begin to form. Fury Of Our Maker's Hand is their latest release and I believe we shall see a new one from them soon. I hope it continues along with the working method they are currently using.
Unearth is probably one of the most unlikely of choices for direct support for a Symphonic Black Metal band but this group of Metalcore champions definitely do not take the assignment lightly. Another great tour for them after completing the brief Slayer invasion where they were the only opener, the visit of Dimmu Borgir allowed them to reach new demographics and convert them to their own cause. As a band they are electric and enthusiastic and essentially a photographers nightmare as they bolt and bound all around the stage in an effort to get everyone in the audience involved at the exact same time from every different location. I have to say that I enjoyed them as they continued to do some older stuff and tracks off their latest release In The Eyes Of Fire but as their set drew close to a close all I wanted to see was the mighty ones from Norway. I would soon get my wish.
Dimmu Borgir would come on very quickly after Unearth and you could feel both the anticipation and electricity in the air, a feeling I tend to notice at some of the larger shows based on the audience and who it is that is playing. Being in the photo pit for a few moments to snare the action as they begin would be exciting to me as well because there is just something so overpowering about their presence that it becomes more a physical thing as opposed to an ethereal one. Suddenly the intro music began to play and the massive curtains were drawn back to reveal Dimmu in all their glory. Each member of the band was standing with arms held high making the horns and it was truly an imposing visual that everyone around me was rushing to capture.
Their opener would be "Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse" and I did not expect this since it's the perfect closer. It serves well as an opening track as well, and made for a true spiked gauntlet in the face to the audience. Shagrath is really an incredible front man and perhaps one of the best in the Symphonic Black Metal genre for he demands your attention and manages to keep it for as long as he decides he wants it. He prowled the stage and glared at the audience like a sinister King observing his loyal subjects and all of us hung on his every word when he would speak. Visually they are a band that is totally on point and guitarists Galder and Silenoz were shredding it up very nicely. While sinister presences on their own, they really seemed to be enjoying the response that they were getting from the crowd as they smiled evil grins back at them. My vantage point was a little obscured when it came to figuring where the hell Mustis, the keyboardist actually was. His presence was felt on every track but with the smoke and the lighting I did not get a clear glimpse of where he was hidden. Of course two other members of the band remained and they were not hidden by any aspect and that was the thundering drums coming from the left side where Hellhammer was causing absolute destruction on the kit. The legendary drummer of Mayhem fame has been touring and recording with DB of late and he is a welcome replacement in the lineup since Nick Barker had left. Also very visible would be ICS Vortex who handles bass guitar and the "clean" aspect of the vocals. He is the light to Shagrath's dark in some fashion and with him in the group there is a lot more room for development and adventuring with their sound. The demonstration as to what can be done with the genre in Dimmu's case is best showcased on their latest release In Sorte Diaboli and from these comments would throttle the audience with "The Serpentine Offering". It is the bands first concept album a really is a musical monster-piece for their catalog. It features the kind of storyline that fans expect from them in terms of content and musically it is deeply symphonic and atmospheric yet brutally aggressive all around. Shagrath talked about it briefly before they launched into music from the CD.
As I listened and watched it seemed as though they were getting to every song that I liked from their catalog and that feeling seemed to be the same around the venue. As each tune ended the roars of applause was deafening and while Dimmu is used to capacity crowds in Europe, it was great to see this response in the States, and New York especially where there really is no place to enjoy this kind of music on either radio or video network. Despite this absence in media outlets the faithful still gather to support their bands. Dimmu Borgir shows the Metal world how an intensely visual and powerful band handles this role. Their message might not be for everyone but those who do follow them into the depths truly embark on a journey that they shall not soon forget. Dare you falter in step as Shagrath leads the charge into the night? I don't think this wise so step up like the proud acolytes of Metal he commands you to be. With Dimmu Borgir at our side we are all cloaked by the thunders of the North wind.
While I had loved the performance without any hesitation or questions I was left a little in want based on the length of the Dimmu Borgir set. Given the presence of four bands in total, they would play just over an hour and fifteen minutes it seemed. I would have gladly sacrificed any one opener for the chance to enjoy a little more DB to be very honest.
Update: The following morning as the flood of Symphonic Black Metal essence slowly began to wear off I read that the mighty Behemoth would be opening for Dimmu the following instead of Unearth. That was depressing for while I liked Unearth and found them kicking ass there is possibly no better pairing than a Dimmu Borgir/Behemoth billing. The fans in Philly really were going to go home numb from this one.
Pete Pardo: Every once in a while anticipation for a show reaches a fever pitch, due to any number of reasons. You see, Dimmu Borgir has been one of my favorite symphonic black metal acts for a few years now, but unfortunately I'd never had the pleasure of catching them live. Well, that was about to change on April 26th at the Nokia in Times Square in New York City. Seeing as this is one of the larger of the mid-sized venues in the city, my first thought was whether or not Dimmu could fill this hall that holds roughly 2000 or so people. Well, my doubts were squelched as soon as we walked up towards the Nokia, as the lines to get in stretched around the block and beyond, and once inside the place was pretty packed with eager metalheads awaiting the return of the Norwegian Symphonic Black Metal Gods.
Canada's Kataklysm kicked things off with some thunderous and speedy death metal, playing a short but effective set that got the crowd into the groove of the evening. These guys play what I like to call "precision death metal" thanks to plenty of catchy riffs, pummeling blasts, and effective vocal growls. Many in attendance could have and wanted to hear more. Devildriver were up next, whipping the crowd into somewhat of a frenzy with their brand of energetic thrash 'n' death. Former Coal Chamber frontman Dez always has great rapport with the fans, and this night was no exception. Despite the short set, Devildriver continued the hot momentum that seemed to be carry through this evening. Up third was Unearth, a strange pick for this tour despite the obvious skill and talent this young band possesses. More of a metalcore/thrash band, they were the odd group out on this bill, but they have a large and loyal following, many of which pushed their way up to the front of the stage where some serious moshing ensued during their set. Give this band some credit-they really kicked ass this evening, despite having a sound that was totally out of place. Plenty of insane riffs and metalcore shouts were flying about, and if you take them out of this context and put the same show somewhere else, it's a smashing success.
Dimmu Borgir came out to one of the most stunning entrances I have seen in a while. The view from the photo pit was quite chilling, with the band all lined up around the stage, arms raised in the air, fans screaming, and dry ice smoke pumping out behind them. Within moments as the band started their musical rampage (in what would ultimately be a far too short set) bodies were flying all over the place and the rafters of the Nokia shaking. These guys have it all-stage presence, chops, and most importantly, the songs. Playing a good chunk of the new album and plenty of older classics, Dimmu just took over that night and gave the fans something to remember. Drummer Hellhammer, though you could hardly see him buried int he corner behind his kit, flailed away all evening like a madman, and guitarists Galder and Silenoz patroled the stage like two gargoyles seeking their victims. Vocally, both Shagrath and bassist ICX Vortex were in fine form throughout, both also really connecting with the fans. I think everyone would agree that in the end, we could have stayed for another 30 minutes, as the set seemed way too short and went by so quick, but it was great nonetheless.
And where the hell was keyboard player Mustis? I thought I saw him lurking in the upper reaches of the stage, hammering on his keys, but with all the dry ice it was hard to tell. His symphonic soundscapes and orchestrations were heard throughout the evening, so even though he was tough to spot amidst the darkness, smoke, and massive stage set, he helped this band create the triumphant music they put forth on this night.
Dimmu Borgir Set List
1. Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse
4. Kings Of The Carnival Creation
5. Sorgens Kammer
7. A Succubus In
8. The Serpentine Offering
9. Hellhammer Drum Solo
11. The Insight And
13. Mourning Palace
14. The Fallen - Outro
Official Web site: www.dimmu-borgir.com
Official Web site: www.unearth.com
Official Web site: www.kataklysm.com
Official Web site: www.devildriver.com