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Dimmu Borgir - the Band

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Pronounced 'dim-moo bore-gear', the Dimmuborgir is a large area of unusually shaped lava fields east of Lake Mývatn, on Iceland. The Dimmuborgir area is composed of various caves and rock formations. It would seem that this has been formed from a lava-lake, out of which molten lava flowed and left behind strange formations. The most famous cave being Kirkjan - the Church - high with a large gothic style vault. Dimmu = foggy/dark, Borgir = castle/fortress.1

Dimmu Borgir are Norway's leading gothic metal band, and have become one of the best-known worldwide since 1993. Blending black metal, industrial metal, plus classical and opera-like music, they have been considered by some to be one of the most artistic acts to grace the metal scene.

The Band

Over the years the line-up has changed frequently. This progressive table show the changes in the component members of the band over the years:

GuitarErkekjetter Silenoz
BassTristanNagashSimen Hestnaes2
KeysStian AarstadMustis
DrumsTjodalvNicholas BarkerReno Kiilerich

Silenoz generally writes the lyrics3. Silenoz, Shagrath, and Mustis primarily split writing of the music between them, although this has changed over time.

The band's style has progressed over the years. In the early 1990s, the sound was more of a 'classic' black metal, with heavily distorted guitar sounds, synthesised orchestral parts, and impossible-to-understand vocals screamed in Norwegian. This 'old-school' style seemed to mutate around the releases of Enthrone... and Spiritual..., becoming cleaner and well-refined musically. Over time they began using real orchestras and choirs, lyrics in English4 and more complex guitar and drum patterns. Their lyrics seem to touch on a number of subjects, from fallacies of religion to the end of the world (most prominent in Puritanical... and Death Cult...'s lyrics).


The band was formed in 1993 with Shagrath on vocals, Erkekjetter Silenoz on guitar, Tjodalv on guitar and drums, Brynjard Tristan on bass and keyboardist Stian Aarstad. Together they released a single Inn I Evighetens Morke. It sold out rapidly and the band then decided to release a full-length album in 1994, after which they became known internationally. For All Tid's production was horrible, sounding as if it was an amateur recording with thin guitars, muted drumming and echoing vocals. Nevertheless, it still managed to boast some excellent songs, with good keyboard work and varying types of metal songs, in addition to 'clean' vocals.

After a few live performances and good reviews, Dimmu Borgir went back to the studio to record a new album in 1996. Entitled Stormblåst, it featured an excellent attempt to include more classical music. Unfortunately, it still suffered from mediocre production and overpowering keyboards. Nevertheless, the album went over well with metal fans. Stormblåst was the last studio album to use lyrics in Norwegian. The band switched to English in an attempt to conform to the rest of the metal universe. After Stormblåst's release the band had to let bassist Tristan go and replaced him with Nagash from the band Kovenant.

Picking up new producer Peter Tagtren and new label, Nuclear Blast, the band was ready for a new album. When Enthrone Darkness Triumphant came out in 1997 Dimmu Borgir were pushed to the front of the metal movement. During the tour that followed they picked up new guitarist, Astennu, and new keyboardist, Mustis, but lost guitarist Tjodalv, who was replaced for a short period by Aggressor.

In 1998, For All Tid was re-released with Inn I Evighetens Morke appended to it, and the Godless Savage Garden EP was released while the band worked on a new album, Spiritual Black Dimensions. Tjodalv came back into the band for the release in 1999. Reviews raved as the band's sound progressed into something deeper and more complex. Bassist Simen Hestnaes came into the band to add operatic vocals, as Nagash quit before any touring. After the '99 tour Tjodalv quit again, this time for good, but Britain's own Nicholas Barker from Cradle Of Filth was hired to step into his place.

Before the next album release, guitarist Astennu was fired from the band and Galder from Old Man's Child was hired in his place. Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, the next release, was even more complex than previous albums, featuring an entire orchestra on almost all of the songs. The feel of the songs had progressed substantially and began to include a lot more clean vocals and singing. An attempted tour was cut short by the events of September 11, 2001, but they still managed to release the World Misanthropy DVD and EP Alive In Torment.

In late 2003, the sixth full-length CD, Death Cult Armageddon, was released. On this release, the vocal style had changed drastically once again, now becoming more of a lower grating chant than previously, which had been mostly raspy and high (not to mention sounding bad). Additionally, on almost every track there was a greater amount of orchestral music, like on Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. Since the band teamed up with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra to compose this album, the instrumental portions were greatly improved, especially on the songs 'Eradication Instincts Defined' and 'Progenies of the Great Apocalypse', in which some excellent arrangements could be heard. The release of Death Cult Armageddon also hailed Dimmu Borgir's first music video. The video, for the second track 'Progenies of the Great Apocalypse', was an interesting look into the creative minds of the band members. It featured shots of the band members playing in a darkened hall while lead vocalist Shagrath grates out his vocals, plus a small section depicting scenes from pictures in the CD booklet. While shortened somewhat from five minutes to three and a half, this was an interesting, albeit strange, addition to the album's features.


  • Inn I Evighetens Morke - Released 1994. Single.
  • For All Tid - Released 1994.
  • Stormblåst - Released 1996.
  • Enthrone Darkness Triumphant - Released 1997.
  • Godless Savage Garden - Released 1998. EP.
  • Spiritual Black Dimensions - Released 1999.
  • Devil's Path/In The Shades Of Life - Released 1999. Released with Old Man's Child.
  • Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia - Released 2001.
  • Alive In Torment - Released 2002. Compilation EP Shaped CD.
  • World Misanthropy - Released 2002. DVD.
  • Death Cult Armageddon - Released 2003.
  • Sons Of Satan/Gather For The Attack - Released 2004. Released with Old Man's Child.
1Taken from the Biographical Introduction on the band's website2AKA Vortex3Probably a good indicator of why he stayed in the band.4Which were also difficult, but not impossible, to understand.

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