Carolina, & DC
Live Gig Reviews
Borgir at Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO 3/19/02
If you've never been to a black metal concert before, then you have no idea what to expect when you do go to one. Over the past few months, Black Metal has been a guilty pleasure that I start to drown myself in through the night and on through the morning's rays of extinguishing light. One reason I'm engulfed in this dark form of musical expression and not its ugly stepbrother known as Death Metal is because any form of hard and heavy music with melodic overtones is going to suit me the best. Metallic melodrama is what I'm ultimately searching for; however, don't misinterpret what I'm saying because any legitimate meth-amphetamine user will tell you that Cannibal Corpse has the most insanely rich drumbeats found in music today. I'm not even going to attempt to disagree with that speed freak because not only do I not want my head bashed in, but also I actually think Death Metal bands have some ass-kicking members.
However, when comparing the symphonic beauty of Black Metal to the constant fury of Death Metal, the listener is going to notice that Black Metal charges just as hard as Death Metal but there is a build-up in Black Metal leading to the song's climax that is surreal to the point where you think you have died and your body is being eaten by venomous snakes. And that feeling is a good feeling by the way, because just saying the word "venomous" makes me think of my all time Metal favorites, Venom. While they reigned from Newcastle, England, the kings of Scandinavian
Metal are, without a doubt, Dimmu Borgir.
You can laugh and call it Nord-Core because everyone does so, but no one can front on bands like In Flames, Messhugah, At the Gates and the newly crowned kings of the genre, Dimmu Borgir. The fact that Dimmu Borgir was enlightened enough to use the Gothenburg Swedish Orchestra for their latest album, Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, demonstrates their musical versatility by driving to find the most diverse sound in their genre.
As for the debate of whether Dimmu Borgir are the kings of Black Metal over England's Cradle Of Filth, this is one matter where expressing my opinion is worthless. This is only because I was told by many afficionados that the sold-out Cradle of Filth show was nowhere near the level of technicality that Dimmu Borgir embarked upon on this dark, snowy night in Denver. Ex-Cradle of Filth drummer, Nicholas Barker, filled in on the kit for Dimmu Borgir, so basically the only argument that can be made currently is who is more connected to the dark side: Cradle of Filth's Dani Davey or Dimmu Borgir's Shagrath?
While Dani Davey's voice is so confronting and unusual, Shagrath moans his discontent in deep growling sounds while shredding apart humanity, screeching his contempt for the modern human in a following verse. Shagrath came out on stage at the Denver concert and announced to a legion of fans who had overcome weather's hardships that they would be in for a treat that evening. What was really special about this particular night is that Dimmu Borgir rarely plays shows in the US and is extremely selective in choosing tour dates, especially for non-coastal cities.
Nevertheless, Denver has the capability to rock out at any given moment, and bands will usually admit to that. The city has a dark side that when examined, reveals all the elements of a repressed society. Kids who are different in Denver are not always accepted, and to see evidence of that, you don't have to look much deeper in history than the misfortunate day of the Columbine massacre three years ago. Just because those kids were tormented doesn't mean they were anywhere near the true meaning of the identity known as "goth," because if anything, I'd speculate that they were probably mocked for listening to Marilyn Manson while keeping a serious face. I'm not trying to find a reason for the useless slaughtering of innocent schoolchildren, but I am making a connection from Marilyn Manson to his hero, Trent
Reznor, to his hero, Rozz Williams, the former singer of Christian Death who committed suicide in 1998. The term "goth" is thrown around like a football, but if you want to clean up any misinterpretation of the representation of the lifestyle, then drag yourself to a Dimmu Borgir concert.
Seeing Dimmu Borgir will bring you to your knees as they did for me when they tore through "Indoctrination", the seventh track off Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. When Shagrath screeched to the crowd, "Oh, look at those lifeless leaves; All their precious pride is taken away;
A lost creation for a graven image; Trembling of nothing but their own fear," he was not just stating the obvious, but he was also being honest in his view of this world. The band mostly played cuts from this latest album, but the live experience of songs such as "The Maelstrom Mephisto" and "Sympozium" only scratched the surface in an attempt to launch me through the dim, stained glass barrier to the underworld. Seeing a Black Metal band who fully implements a climax that includes the creepiest synthesizer notes since "The Nightmare Before Christmas" will not only make you want to dye your hair black and carve amateur pentagrams onto your body, but it will explain to you exactly why these actions have significance in your interpretation of the music.
It doesn't matter if you're some wussy, indie, emo kid in the suburbs of Chicago who doesn't leave his room until Sonic Youth goes on tour again or if you're some pretentious pseudo-intellectual from some farm in Tennessee who only listens to bands like Boy Sets Fire--you can still be saved. I'm not trying to be the preacher-man from the Sunday Morning Gospel Hour on channel 11 by telling everyone that you can change your life around by listening to Dimmu Borgir and other bands such as the Gathering and the Haunted; but the paradoxical truth is that there is hope in despair.
When I got up close and saw Shagrath straddling the microphone wearing a black, pleather skirt while proclaiming the benefits of serving the dark lord, I can't help but think back to the days when I listened to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and my born-again Christian aunt would tell me that I loved the devil. If only Ozzy Osborne had been around to slap her, urging her to mind her own damned business, then maybe I wouldn't have been so hesitant to indulge in the sweet and solemn somberness of Black Metal. Hey, she might have been right, but I'm glad I was there on this glorious Tuesday night to bathe in the liquid hot splashes of hell that Dimmu Borgir spewed upon me with "Behind the Curtain of Night" and then again with "United In Unhallowed Grace." I'm still scared to go to sleep, but I know that when I caught Astennu's guitar pick and gave it to my friend, Cameron, it will be payback time when AFI comes to Denver again and Cam will have to ask Davey Havok to give me a pair of his vinyl pants that he doesn't wear very often. Hail Satan!
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