Album Review: Dimmu Borgir’s Eonian Offers Eternal Disappointment

  • Phil Boozeman

Oh, Dimmu Borgir. How the mighty have fallen. Make no mistake, I am a big fan of this band. These words are neither easy nor fun for me to write. So strap yourselves in. It’s going to be a bumpy fucking ride.

I really thought Dimmu had hit bottom with the boring Abrahadabra. But seven years later, the band that turned a generation of fans onto both black and symphonic metal has continued to find ways to underwhelm. At this point, it feels like the band is just Shagrath’s excuse to wear cool black metal stuff and make elaborate music videos.

So what exactly went wrong with Eonian? For starters, Dimmu have lost their edge. I know, they’ve been around since ’93 and it’s hard to still be edgy after having a career that has lasted so long, but it just feels like there isn’t anything evil about Dimmu anymore. It’s hard to put into words, but the record is… soft. There isn’t a single part of this album that  would make your average suburban soccer mom turn it off in fear; annoyance, maybe, not fear. There isn’t a single part of Eonian that made me want to sacrifice something to Satan.

Unfortunately, that’s not even the album’s biggest problem. The biggest problem with Eonian is the songwriting itself. As much as I hated Abrahadabra, it had some pretty memorable riffs on tracks like “Born Treacherous” and “Gateways.” Eonian, on the other hand, has thrown the same five notes into the Dimmu Borgir tremolo pick riff maker and recycled it ad nauseam. The songs all blend together; even after multiple listens, someone could completely change the track order and the listener would likely never notice the difference.

But even when you do get a couple of good riffs, such as on “The Empyrean Phoenix,” they’re overshadowed by the awkward balance of black and symphonic metal. Yes, Dimmu are a symphonic band, but while Death Cult Armageddon used the symphony to paint soaring visions of the apocalypse and northern winds ripping your face off, Eonian seems content to use it as a go-to gimmick that does nothing for the atmosphere of the album other than corrode it. Most of the parts featuring a choir are all very upbeat, happy-sounding, and cheesier than the entire state of Wisconsin. If I wanted happy, I would go fucking watch The Wiggles. Imagine that you’re having mediocre sex and every three minutes your little brother runs into the room and rips a big, stinky fart. That’s the experience this album has to offer.

Eonian is like the brain-dead little brother of “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse” who has a weird talent for playing the piano despite a clear lack of motor skills; it feels as if Dimmu wrote about 75% of an album and then just filled the rest of the space with with corny opera parts. No matter how badly fans want to like the record, Eonian will likely leave them feeling little besides disappointment.

Dimmu Borgir’s Eonian drops May 4th via Nuclear Blast. You can check out the song “Council of Wolves and Snakes” below, and you can pre-order the album here.

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