in Spektrum, Oslo, Norway, May 28, 2011

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

All photos by Karolina E. Piwko

This was one of the most anticipated concerts of the year. And, in retrospect, this concert was both one of the best concerts to be held in Norway for a long time and a historical one as well. One would think that the country that invented Black Metal is crazy about it, but this isn’t the case. Therefore it is a great victory, not only for Black Metal, but for Norwegian Metal in general, that Norway’s biggest Metal band at the moment, Dimmu Borgir, could perform with 53 members of the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (KORK) and 30 members of Schola Cantorum Choir in front of approximately 8,000 people at Oslo Spektrum. The crowd didn’t only consist of Norwegians, but people from all over Scandinavia, Australia, Canada, USA, Chile, France, and more.

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

This one-off event, entitled Forces Of The Northern Night, was also filmed by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) and will be aired during the summer. A DVD with the footage is also in production, so this one-off Epic Metal event can be enjoyed by people across the world too. Dimmu Borgir isn’t the average Black Metal band any more. Their music is more melodic, more epic, and has far better production than their Black Metal brethren. They’ve experimented with their sound and though they’ve received some criticism from the Black Metal community for not staying “pure,” they’ve reached so far that they can pull off a concert of this magnitude and pull a crowd of this size. It would be unthinkable a couple of years back.

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

The orchestra was located on the left side of the stage and the choir on the right, while the band itself was in the middle. The volume was much lower than one would anticipate from a Black Metal concert, no earplugs were needed. The reason for this was of course that Dimmu Borgir performed with a big orchestra and choir and close to 90 people were on the stage at the same time. The overall volume had to be lower because of all the instruments and to allow more dynamics. This also ensured the overall sound in Oslo Spektrum was great too, for once.

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

The seven first songs (the intro included) were taken off their 2010 release Abrahadabra, which also featured KORK and Schola Cantorum. The songs have a very melodic and epic approach, but the choruses are also very catchy and easy on the ear, which is very unusual for Black Metal vocals. The choruses consist, for the most part, of repeating the one or two words from the titles, like “Born Treacherous,” “Gateways,” “Dimmu Borgir” and “Ritualist.” Though they have a very melodic approach, the songs are heavy and there’s a lot of double kick drum pounding involved. The band members themselves seemed calm and it’s obvious that the 19 years since they formed the band has given them many routines. Still, the band seemed hungry and the riffing, the guitar solos, the rasping growling from Shagrath — everything was well over par this evening.

Songs off Death Cult Armageddon (2003), Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia (2000), In Sorte Diaboli (2007), and Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (1997) were also played. The songs played off these albums are testaments to the fact that Dimmu Borgir are no strangers to the symphonic approach to Black Metal, as the two first albums were recorded with Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Gothenburg Opera Orchestra, respectively, and the two latter were recorded with orchestra samples and keyboards, respectively. The concert was based a lot on the orchestra and there was a lot of space in-between for this purpose as well. For example, epic instrumentals like “Fear And Wonder” (off Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia) and the extended orchestral version of “Dimmu Borgir” were worked in well.

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

Dimmu Borgir has undergone some line-up changes the last couple of years, with bass player and clean vocalist I.C.X. Vortex and keyboardist Mustis quitting or being fired (depending on who you talk to). Guesting on the bass and keyboards this evening were Cyrus (Susperia) and Gerlioz (ex-Apoptygma Berzerk, ex-Kovenant, ex-Satyricon), respectively.

Photo by Karolina E. Piwko

The only guest appearance from a singer was Agnete Kjølsrud (Djerv, ex-Animal Alpha) who repeated her performance from Abrahadabra on the song “Gateways.” The clean vocals that were performed by Snowy Shaw (Therion) on Abrahadabra and I.C.S. Vortex on the earlier records were now handled by the entire Schola Cantorum choir, dressed in monk cloths for the occasion. It caused shivers down everyone’s spine and it was extremely epic.

This was a historical night, and that Black Metal now has been accepted by the government-owned radio and television public broadcasting company is proof that Metal is finally on its way back to the top after being neglected for almost two decades. The forthcoming live DVD is a recommended purchase.

Set list:
Xibir (intro) / Born Treacherous / Gateways / Dimmu Borgir (extended orchestral) / Chess With the Abyss / Ritualist / A Jewel Traced Through Coal / Eradication Instincts Defined (orchestral) / Vredesbyrd / Progenies of the Great Apocalypse / The Serpentine Offering / Fear and Wonder (orchestral) / Puritania / Kings of the Carnival Creation / Mourning Palace / Perfection or Vanity (outro)


  • Kristian Singh-Nergård

    Kristian is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He is Metal Express Radio's Marketing and Communications Manager, and on occasions also reviewer and photographer. Based out of Oslo, Norway, Kristian is a bass player and owner of the independent record label Pug-Nose Records. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2006.

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