After what feels like a millennium, the titans of symphonic black metal have finally returned. With it being nigh on 8 years since the release of Abrahadabra, I had high hopes for this album as I personally loved that album. I know it’s a cliche almost, but as soon as I heard “Gateways”, I was hooked on the band.
Kicking off the album we have the behemoth that is “The Unveiling”. Continuing themes explored in the previous album with orchestral instruments a-plenty and massive sounding choirs, this song really sets the theme for the album and can almost be considered as the ‘opening song of the musical’. The first single of the album continues this theme with a chorus that just begs to be sung along to.
Continuing on the album, “Council of Wolves and Snakes” is where things start to get really interesting. With a ‘tribal’ chant in the background whilst vocalist Shagrath bellows out “We are Gods!” gives the whole song a vibe that is unlike any other Dimmu Borgir song I have heard in the past. It is still a Dimmu Borgir track though as everything kicks up a gear around the half-way mark and shows that the band has still got it all these years later.
“Lightbringer” is another song in particular that I found myself coming back to regularly. Arguably being one of the more ‘black metal’ tracks on the album, it weaves both the tried and tested formula and orchestras with choirs to generate another epic track. The rest of the album continues on in the same manner with “Archaic Correspondence” in particular being another track that brings something new to the table.
Ending the album, the instrumental track “Rite of Passage” is another track that marries both old and new in a perfect fashion. Sure it could maybe have benefited from a few sections of vocals in there, but the piano sections more than make up for that.
Having read other reviews from across the internet and also some of the reactions from long-time fans, it appears as though this album has received a mixed response. I can understand why some fans may not be happy with the album as compared to the older albums it is quite different. I personally think it is a very strong album. Sure, the orchestra may be over-used a touch but that is what makes this album though. It is like one giant black metal drama performance of some of the musicals that dominate London’s west-end to this day. And that, to me, is why this album is one of the best I’ve heard in a while.
Standout tracks: The Unveiling, Council of Wolves and Snakes, Lightbringer.
Eonian is available now on Nuclear Blast Records.