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I was prejudiced. I was wrong. (Dimmu Borgir "Stormblast" 2005 rerecording)


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For a while I've tried to pretend that I did not like Dimmu Borgir. Don't get me wrong, I used to love them as an older teenager because they were my first introduction to truly symphonic black metal. I had the albums Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, Spiritual Black Dimensions, Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, Death Cult Armageddon, and an older album called Stormblast.

Stormblast quickly became my favorite because I existed in a phase where being kvlt and tr00 was all that mattered in my circle of black metal dork friends. While Dimmu Borgir was routinely mocked in this group after Bam Margera began using their music in his videos, I defended the kvlt nature of Stormblast. I liked how the keys were pushed to the front, swallowing the guitars completely, how the album was in Norwegian compared to their later English offerings with silly, flowery lyrics that often didn't make sense, and the overall production and tone of the original album. Which is why I was completely devastated when they rerecorded it in 2005, and figured that it was a shallow and cynical cash grab that was forced on behalf of Nuclear Blast, and I quickly became angry at Nuclear Blast for "making black metal accessible to normies" so to speak. Granted this was in the time where I was collecting CDs instead of vinyl, so I guarded my copy of Stormblast heavily and it was one of the only albums (along with Nokturnal Mortum's discography) to survive the collapse of the roof of the garage I was living in during Hurricane Charley, a hurricane that absolutely demolished my area and turned it into what appeared to be a war zone.

When I started collecting vinyl, I began looking for a copy of Stormblast to no avail. The cheapest copies I could find were purple vinyl rereleases from 2011 for $155 and I am willing to pay ridiculous amounts for single discs, but not almost $200 when shipping is factored in. So I went without. Until today, when I went down to the record store and noticed that a copy of Stormblast was available... but with one small problem: it was that cursed, goddamned cash grab rerecording from 2005. I was hesitant about using my store credit from trading in some records to pick it up but reasoned that I could not spend actual money on it, listen to it once, make fun of it and Dimmu Borgir for "selling out" and then slap it up for sale in my pop-up record store and make a quick $20 off some dumb kid who thought he was cool.

Keep in mind I had been hating on this album for fifteen years and had never listened to a single track off of it, because the general consensus was that Dimmu Borgir rerecorded the album to make it more accessible to Hot Topic teens who couldn't handle the kvlt and tr00 nature of the original's production. So I used some of my store credit and grabbed it up. Quietly and sheepishly from the shop owner who is just happy that someone under the age of 60 is in his shop, infusing it with current records and grabbing up the pithy offering og metal that his distributor has made accessible to him (we had a long conversation about this today: He wants to stock the shop with way more black and death metal, but his distributor says that nothing is ever available, so he gets what he can and hopes for the best. So far I have bought 3 Burzum albums from him, 2 Emperor albums, and now 2 Dimmu Borgir discs, and this keeps him attempting to bring in more metal because he knows "it's what sells")

And now I realize just what a prejudiced, moronic, stuck-in-the-past asshole I truly am.

This is a great album. It's everything I liked about the original Stormblast but with much better production value. The guitars are full and no longer tinny or pushed to the back, so it sounds like a proper metal album. The synth and keyboard work is more lush and filled out, giving the album a higher symphonic quality than even my previous "favorite" post-Stormblast DB album "Spiritual Black Dimensions" (which I bought the other day). It's now possible to hear this album the way that the band wanted it to be heard, but lacked the budget to do the first time around. It's heavy af, much heavier than Spiritual Black Dimensions or Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. It has a very Death Cult Armageddon feel to it in terms of production without compromising the fact that it's easily their best work remastered and rerecorded in the way they can be proud of. While I previously thought that the original recording of Stormblast was fine, I don't think that I could now justify spending money on a pressing of the original album because I have this one. Oh and it came with a bonus 7" with two additional, until now unreleased songs on it. The cover no longer says "Stormblast 2005", just "Stormblast" so it's obvious that they want this to be the official version of their amazing second full length album & I agree. I know all the songs on here like the back of my own hand and to say that they sound better and more like what I would expect from Dimmu Borgir post Enthrone Darkness Triumphant is an understatement. I'm actually finding myself liking this version of the album much better than the original and that's because I'm 35 and no longer care about being "kvlt" or "tr00" because I have absolutely nothing to prove to any other human being anymore.

So in short, I feel bad that I shit on this album as a "sell out project" for as long as I did, because at 35, I really like it a lot and it's probably the best album that Dimmu Borgir has done. All of the melodies are the same, it still gives me that dark feeling of October 2003 (when I got the original CD) and just generally feels less like a really good demo and more of what the band is capable of producing. Granted I stopped fucking with Dimmu Borgir for a long time because of their association with Bam Margera (who I personally despise) but I am mature enough now to say that this was juvenile, prejudiced, and that I was wrong. There's absolutely nothing wrong with listening to Dimmu Borgir. They've done a lot to give black metal a wider recognition beyond that of darkened bedrooms of teenage satanic dabblers and garage practice spaces in the suburbs. I should not have judged them so harshly just for appearing with a specific celebrity. I have returned to appreciating the artistic merits of this band because of this rerecording and will never say another unkind word about them.

Maybe I just grew up and realized that it's ok to like what you like, that's also a possibility.

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On 11/15/2021 at 4:18 PM, Dead1 said:

Good write up by the way!

Thanks, I can write relatively well when I want to. One thing I had always hoped to do for a career was to review music, so occasionally I write up reviews about albums I have purchased. I'd do more, but I'm not really on the cutting-edge of music, as I am buying albums from years ago that I never heard at the time.

I might write up a review of Cemetery Lust "Screams of the Violated" later on today, but I haven't made my mind up whether I want to review that or another album instead.

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