Dimmu Borgir / Panzerfaust The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, August 23
Published Aug 24, 2018It's hard to believe it's been eight years since bombastic Norwegians Dimmu Borgir last graced Toronto's venues. Yet here they are, reminding us of two things: you can never be too over-the-top, and there is no limit to how many metal studs an outfit can hold.
Local act Panzerfaust could not have been better suited to this gig. The singer cut a terrifying profile, his huge figure backlit on a pulpit, flanked by two candelabras. His burlap sack mask may be a cheap trick, but it made him look somewhere between Leatherface and a Silent Hill boss. As Panzerfaust's grave-paced music pulsed and steamrolled through the hall, it became clear why these guys were picked to support Slayer and Satyricon on their final Canadian tour dates. Bravo, lads. That was crushing.
Dimmu Borgir's new album Eonian was met with mixed critical reviews, but their triumphant performance at Montebello Rockfest this June proved that the band have lost none of their fire. By the time they took the stage (with a mic stand so jagged it would make an Orc self-conscious), any last doubts were extinguished.
Dimmu Borgir clearly weren't resting on past successes, as the majority of the night's setlist came from their last two albums. "Interdimensional Summit" hit a particularly majestic nerve, sounding much more orchestral then it ever did on record. "Gateways" and "The Chosen Legacy" raised the energy levels before they hit peak epic on the self-titled song "Dimmu Borgir." The crowd loved it, throwing up more horns and cries of "HEY!" than a horde of Vikings on the march. Rapturous, in the extreme.
Then it was time to dive into the old stuff. Long-time listeners must have been surprised to hear deep cuts "Puritania" and "IndoctriNation," both from 2001's Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. It was a welcome break from the symphonic assault; "IndoctriNation," in particular, brought industrial sound effects and grooves (along with a bizarre Tim Burton-esque bridge) that many people didn't know Dimmu Borgir were capable of. But it's a testament to the band's talent that these obscure tracks were received with the same ferocious approval as their biggest hits.
"Are you ready to hear some real Norwegian Black Metal?" asked frontman Shagrath, after going full Emperor Palpatine during a costume change ahead of "Council of Wolves and Snakes" (those sleeves, though).
Every millennial black metal fan lost their mind as the riff to "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse" descended. Bearing down onto the crowd like a demonic airship in a blizzard, the song was a reminder of how special a place Dimmu Borgir hold in metal's history. The (still irreplaceable) vocals of ICS Vortex were played through pre-recordings, allowing the audience to do more then just sing along to the song's operatic middle section. The mass headbang that ensued actually managed to stir up a breeze in the hall's closed off interior.
Die-hard fans finally had their prayers answered during the last song of the set. "Mourning Palace," from 1997's unquestioned masterpiece Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, was the oldest track on offer and also one of the best; the drumming sped up and Shagrath's voice kicked into an inhuman register. Whatever you think of their newer material, this was from a time when Dimmu Borgir were kings.
And, in many ways, they still are. It's not every band that could take an eight-year hiatus and come back this strong. Nothing about this show felt dated in the slightest. If anything, it felt exciting. Please don't take eight more years to come back, Dimmu Borgir. We're not sure if we can take it.