Roel de Haan : Like most, I was taken by surprise when I found out that Mustis and ICS Vortex were no longer part of Dimmu Borgir. The mud-slinging that followed was embarrassing to say the least. Since many considered these men to be important to the sound of Dimmu Borgir, I also was wondering what the effect of this would be on subsequent efforts. Now, the new album 'Abrahadabra' is here to be judged by all of us. Will it be the great victory of Silenoz and Shagrath? Or will it be proof for the case of Mustis and ICS Vortex?
'While 'In Sorte Diaboli' was in fact quite a guitar-driven album, 'Abrahadabra' is symphonic to the core. Again the album is graced by the notable presence of a real symphonic orchestra and choir, for which the arrangements were done by Gaute Storaas. The classical parts play a very large part in defining the album's sound but are not overbearing. I honestly don't miss the influence of Mustis here, simply because there isn't much of a difference. 'Abrahadabra' definitely sounds like Dimmu Borgir. The overall sound has become little more bombastic compared to 'In Sorte Diaboli', and more akin to 'Death Cult Armageddon'. Although I must say that the integration of the orchestra and choir is much better now. The album also sounds a little bit more aggressive (although ever so slightly) due to the extended use of blast-beats. However, the drums are relatively deep in the mix, so the songs stay approachable at all times. Production-wise, I think this is by far their best effort yet, everything is perfectly clear without sounding synthetic or having too much emphasis on one instrument. Without a doubt, the necro-sound fetishists will tend to disagree. Of course, there are also some notable guest appearances like Agnete Kjølsrud (of Animal Alpha fame) on the song 'Gateways' who's "evil child” singing style reminded me of Dismal Euphony on their 'All Little Devils' album and Garm who does a decent job on the album closer 'Endings And Continuations'. The vocals of Snowy Shaw (who already left the band) are also well-done but his tone might be an acquired taste.
'Abrahadabra' is really an ambitious work; you can really hear the effort that they have put into it. The album is a really comfortable ride for any fan (which could also be a point of criticism), containing all the familiar ingredients and the band performs as should be expected: very well. In fact, Dimmu Borgir have made a very good record full of consistently well-written symphonic black metal songs and provide ample proof for the fact that the creative core of Dimmu Borgir is still in the band.