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Dimmu Borgir Live Review
This week's update by: doc     Last week's feature Apocalypse ReRedux
Two live reviews of the Nov/03 Dimmu Borgir, Nevermore, COB and Hypocrisy tour
original pics by hewhoshalldie

Dimmu Borgir, Nevermore, COB, and Hypocrisy
Nov. 11/03 Toronto

Due to both public transit issues and bad planning on my part, I arrived at the venue much later than I had projected. The mile-long line-up didn’t help matters, either. I got inside just as Hypocrasy were playing their last few notes for a huge and disorganized audience, albeit a warm-welcoming one. So, as it turned out, for once my timing was impeccable; I’m a far cry from a Hypocrasy fan. While wandering over to the bar, I glanced to the rather awkwardly-placed stage, to see the (hate) crew setting up for Children of Bodom.

To my delight, one of the roadies wore a sweatshirt proudly displaying the Norther logo (another Finnish band akin to Children of Bodom and the like). The crowd, while incredibly tame and well mannered, made no hesitation to declare their excitement about the upcoming band. Through the anticipatory bustle, the whizzing of Janne Warmen’s keyboards could be heard, and the crowd applauded and cheered the effort with fervor. That delighted me; in North America, where most people listen to the most tuneless and vulgar Metal, it was great to learn that so many people could appreciate a good synthesizer now and then (and Hell—it’s Janne Warmen!).

Dimmu Borgir

As I said, the crowd was huge—pea sized, of course to Wacken or something, but for a Toronto show… I can’t complain. Well, except of course, for the fact that I was at the back. Thankfully, I had a decent view. I don’t mind being at the back, as long as I can see and as long as the energy is consistent throughout the venue. My latter stipulation sadly, was not granted. Hands were in the air near the front, but those of us at the back didn’t quite catch the wave of oomph… but I’m getting ahead of myself. I had enough time to get myself a drink and eagerly watch as the final adjustments were made onstage. Finally, the lights dimmed, and everyone could feel that last dark, rushing moment just before a band walks onstage. Whoever said that Finnish performers are understated certainly weren’t thinking of Children of Bodom. Rushing forth with raw power and life (yeah—life, NOT death), they were… something wild. Really, did you expect me to go through this review without making some cheesy joke?

Congratulations must be given to the sound engineer—most of the melodies came across really damned clearly, and Laiho’s guitars and vocals were also easily made out. And yes, he’s just an incoherent a singer live as he is on the albums! Nevertheless, his vocals were strong, as were all the other performances. A very tight show, and an entertaining one at that. There was always movement, always something to look at. If Laiho wasn’t playing with his hair or interacting with the audience, then the other members were dancing around with equal passion.

As expected, they opened with “Needled 24/7,” the first song off their new album. Going with my theory (A live concert either augments a song or destroys it), this tune was incredible, though oddly enough it was one of my least favorite off “Hate Crew Deathroll.” One of the reasons it was so vastly improved was because they couldn’t/didn’t make Alexi Laiho’s vocals distorted like they did on the album (which is the thing that had made the song so gross in the first place). It was also longer, which I also enjoyed—again, surprisingly, as initially I really didn’t care for the song.

One thing that made the show so unique was that there were no spaces in-between songs. That doesn’t mean that the whole set was a medley or anything. Rather, all the pieces were very individual, but were connected in some way; be it some damper left unlifted, a keyboard interlude or, in the most effective case, a throbbing atmospheric interlude between the first and second songs. I can’t remember ever having seen that before in a show—it benefited it immensely, as there was a feeling of unity, and made the set flow beautifully. The ones that stood out to me the most were “Silent Night, Bodom Night” and “Bodom Beach Terror.” At the end of the latter, Warmen did a brief solo (which led into the next track), over which Laiho shouted an introduction for the keyboard whiz. It was odd, though; Warmen was the only person who was introduced. While Laiho interacted sincerely and frequently with the audience, he didn’t make mention of anyone else; it’s of no consequence, but I just thought it was funny. Anyhow, the set was awesome—definitely the most enjoyable of the evening even though, in retrospect, it was on the short side.

After the Children left the stage, the crowd cried out “BO-DUM, BO-DUM!” hopefully, but to no avail. And by the way, it’s pronounced “Boo-dum,” not “Boe-dum.” Just a pet peeve. During the break before Nevermore’s set, I ran into a friend of mine, who was there just to see the next act. After a brief conversation about the latest Metal releases and the like, the lights dimmed once more...

Dimmu Borgir

Now, I must confess that I am not too familiar with these Seattle natives, so I didn’t know what to think. After all, I was at the show just for Children of Bodom. However… Nevermore delivered a super show! I think my enjoyment of it was augmented by my friend’s undying enthusiasm, so thanks to Justin! The tracks “I, Voyager” and “Engines of Hate” really stood out to me—some things I knew from the sole album of theirs I own (“Dead Heart in a Dead World”), but most of it was new to me. Nevermore, too, was improved by a live performance—so much so that I want to go and listen to all their stuff! One guitar solo in particular was absolutely orgasmic, while singer Warrel Dane put his diverse and unique vocals to work. He was also an energetic and endearing frontman—very kind spirited. Initially, I wondered why these people were on the bill, as they’re rather of a different breed…but during the set, I realized they were really a breath of fresh air, as there are some softer elements to them which contrasted well with the harshness of the other bands. Nevermore also had good sound, which was especially nice for me—since I don’t know them too well, it was nice to actually hear what I was hearing for the first time, if you know what I mean. Now and then the guitars were a tad muddy, as they were on occasion for Children of Bodom, but I attribute this to my close proximity to the speakers (as it happened, it was so packed I really didn’t have much choice as to where I was standing).

Once more, the lights came up, and once more the audience tried to bring out the band…and once more, it didn’t work! There was a lengthily intermission before the lights faded again for the final band—Dimmu Borgir. Now, I had been forwarned that Dimmu Borgir are NOT the greatest live band; nevertheless, I decided to give them a chance. After a terribly prolonged beginning with bass booming, smoke curling and lights dancing, our corpsepaint clad friends graced the stage. Whoever told me Dimmu Borgir would be a disappointment was in the right.

The guitars and drums weren’t so bad, but the bass was a bit too high (as was the volume overall), and Shagrath’s vocals were not only muddy, but often inaudible. It was like the Gods of Metal all over again… for anyone who saw the Gods of Metal Toronto show, you’ll know precisely what I’m talking about. Often, I couldn’t hear him at all. Maybe there was an octopus in the soundbooth just toggling random switches, but whatever the case, it was wretched at the best of times. Also, Dimmu Borgir was, frankly, boring as Hell to watch. Sure, there were some nice performances, but in terms of any visual aid… zilch. Contrary to Children of Bodom and Nevermore, Dimmu Borgir proved the flip side of my Live Theory… they killed their own songs just by being onstage. I feel horrible saying that, but I feel even worse saying this: I left the show early. I’d had enough. The “what-if?” part of me was tempted to stick around and see if they would play “Entrance,” but the reasonable side of me argued that it would have been a waste of time, and probably a disappointing performance anyway. I wasn’t horribly disgusted with the show, but after about five or six songs I understood the way the rest of the set would go…

Nevertheless, in retrospect I didn’t leave with a bitter taste in my mouth. I vastly enjoyed the first two bands that I saw, and was only midly frustrated with the last. If Children of Bodom or Nevermore are coming to your town, do NOT pass up the chance to see them strut their stuff unless you have the best excuse in the book.

A huge Thank You to Mr. Vallee from Century Media for putting me on the guestlist, and a big Hail to Children of Bodom and Nevermore for a great show!

Dimmu Borgir

Dimmu Borgir/Hypocrisy
21.10.2003 in Cologne (Live Music resound) by Thunderforce

(translated from German by doc)

"a nearly perfect evening"

DIMMU BORGIR called and the masses came. I don't know the capacity of the Live Music Resound, but it was packed full to the roof. I'd guess from 1,500 to 2,000 metalheads were there and ready to bang.

HYPOCRISY live are an absolute power. Unfortunately I didn't like their choice of live material very much, I could have come up with a much better set for them. The volume was like the Gods, Peter ruled the masses in his grasp. He's a very charismatic front man and equipped with a wide spectrum (from screams down to abyss-deep growls). Mad props to this dude!

The long soundcheck had definitely been worthwhile, because they sounded both powerful and highly transparent- that is, you could hear all the instruments cutting through the mix. HYPOCRISY played the perfect show.

After "The Race" they played a new song, from the soon to be released new album, which moved in the lower midtempo and sounded true to form. Then the big hit "Fractured Millenium" for the encore. The fans were ready for more HYPOCRISY after a much too short 50 minutes on-stage.

At 22.20 was it was time for Dimmu.

The lights went out and a dire Intro, consisting of symphonic sounds and synthesizers rang out. It was time for DIMMU BORGIR. After the intro, the volume cranked and they entered the stage and laid down "Lepers Among Us" for a furious start. The sound-mix, which up to then had been surprisingly kick-ass so far, got STILL better. An absolute wall, very fat and comparable with the sound on the last two albums, like the hammer banging down!

On a landing on the left stood Nicholas. On the right side stood Mustis behind its with black curtains with his keyboards. Between them stood inverted crosses, in the background then an enormous backdrop with artwork of the current album.

Not too overloaded with too-pretty scenery, but exactly fitting.

The lightshow was PINK FLOYD level. The stage, which was wrapped in nebulas, was lit up in grotesque green and blue tones. In addition there were white strobe flashes, which pulsed to the sounds of "Unorthodoxy of the Manifesto" accurately on Nicholas' double bass attacks. Ingeniously, on the machine gun salvos these white flashes matched the drums exactly. But you ain't seen nothing yet. Behind the 4 instrumentalists; Shagrath. Silenoz played the frontman. Galder and Vortex were washed in the light of 6 rotating colorwheels. The colors changed the moods perfectly, combined with the fog and smoke that helped show the beams, creating the impression of 4 musicians in eddying towers of light. Absolutely brilliant!

The stage performance of DIMMU BORGIR was rather static, only Vortex and Silenoz moved occasionally. Mustis did not move the whole gig over a centimeter, not even moving his head. Instead he looked down darkly the whole time from his key board throne. He projected an aura of fear and loathing, along with the guitarist Silenoz.

Shagrath voice sounded great. Vortex was absolutely inspiring with his clear vocal passages. Even at a very loud volume the mix was perfect, which surprised the shit out of me. Most metal shows at this venue are muddy and its hard to hear the various instruments.

Nevermore COB
Hypocrisy

I would not have thought that songs like "Pro Genius of The Great Apocalypse" or "Kings OF The Carnival Creation" could be adequately covered live - DIMMU BORGIR delivered - despite missing orchestra. The entire band was very tight and seemed to be able to read each other perfectly to produce a very original and powerful sound. Insanity!

Particularly benefitting from this clear, powerful sound were the classical influenced "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant" and "Stormblast". These songs were almost the opposite the studio versions- more intense and heavy, but still maintaining the class of the originals- that was a true joy. The high point was the locking steam-rams of "Stormblast", followed by an all out steam-rolling, (in the comparison to the album's slower version) of "Mourning Palace". Definitely one of the best concerts I've seen this year and the light show and effects were the best I've ever seen. Only geil. After approximately 95 minutes the show was over.

The concert cost 17.60 euro, which was about average. 18 euro for T-shirt and 22 euro for longsleeve jersey were pretty typcial. 35 euro for a hoodie pullover was out of my league in both price and taste.

Altogether, that's my only criticism in an otherwise perfect concert evening.

Setlist for DIMMU BIRGIR:

- Intro
- Lepers Among US
- in Death's Embrace
- Cataclysm Children
- Vredesbyrd
- Kings OF The Carnival Creation
- Unorthodoxy Manifesto
- pro genius OF The Great Apocalypse
- IndoctriNation
- The Blazing of monolith OF Defiance
- The Insight and The Catharsis
- Spellbound (By The Devil)
- Raabjoern Speijler Draugheimens Skodde
- Stormblast
- Mourning Palace
- Perfection Or Vanity (Outro)

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