Dimmu Borgir

Wacken - 2012

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

One of the great pulls of Wacken in 2012 was the Norwegian black metal superstars Dimmu Borgir.
Dimmu Borgir was celebrating their 5th time playing Wacken, and they were going to do it in style; on the Black Stage, and with a complete symphony orchestra and a full male and female choir!

Now, the idea of incorporating a symphony orchestra in metal isn’t really novel, among the more famous acts of this we see Led Zeppelin and Metallica, but it has also been seen in smaller acts than these; why even at this very festival, Moonspell was doing something similar on a much smaller stage!
Still, people were here to see Dimmu Borgir, and we felt it our duty to go and have a look as well. That, and of course being very curious as to how it would be done...
When the circus (or what you would prefer to call it) began, it was only the orchestra (the Czech National Symphony Orchestra if you were wondering) and the choir on stage, and they were performing Xibir off the Abrahadabra. All this we had to see on the large video screen though, as the stage was covered by a large curtain.
The curtain did not fall until the second song started, at which time the band had also joined in on stage, alongside live musicians Terje ‘Cyrus’ Andersen on bass, Dariusz ‘Daray’ Brzozowski on drums and Geir ‘Gerlioz’ Bratland on keyboards.
Whether the loud shouts I heard were purely out of admiration for the band, or if some of them were out another form of joy I cannot say, but having placed himself a bit too far in the front, vocalist Shagrath was completely covered by the falling curtain, and to be honest, it looked rather funny as he struggled for a short while to get free.

After this well-planned (hmm) intro, it was a surprisingly plain road that Dimmu Borgir had staked out for us – while the soundscape had definitely taken a boost from the added talent of the orchestra and the choir, the band members themselves were painfully in need of a vitamin injection as well.
Having made such a big deal out of creating something special, it was a shame to see it go to waste because of an exceptionally lazy performance. Not only did they pretty much stay in place during the entire show (with some headbanging of course), but it also turned out that Xibir was far from the only song that the hired help would have to do on their own this evening; if I’m not mistaken, no less than four (!) songs (five if you count the long beginning of the song Dimmu Borgir) were performed without the presence of the band on stage, and even though I applaud the atmosphere and the feeling that the orchestra and choir evoked, that’s simply not good enough when we all know who people were here to see!
To follow this up, I would like to add that the guest appearance of Agnete Kjølsrud (Djerv) in Gateways was definitely not too shabby either; again, here was a guest who was kicking the main acts butt all over the stage with the energy brought to the show!

The Wacken crowd was definitely not complaining though; the festival area was filled to the brim, and the cheers between songs were heard far and wide!
For my sake, I didn’t much join in as I had had a few earlier in the day [ed. note; HA!], and had by this time attracted a nasty hiccup which I had to deal with alongside the less than grabbing show; again, just as the Shagrath vs. Curtain scene in the beginning, I would imagine this was pretty hilarious for the bystanders who took notice of it!
I know there are at least as many haters for Dimmu Borgir out there as there are fans, and if I could I would like to place myself in a neutral zone somewhere in between, but for this show I can only say that the praise, and there was a lot of it, that Dimmu Borgir got was far from deserved. The idea might have looked good on paper, and it was definitely good in theory, but the execution was so irredeemably lacking in power and presence that I can name it nothing but a waste of time.
I enjoyed the orchestra and the choir though, they should be given all the props they can handle.

Setlist:

Xibir (orchestra/choir only)
Born Treacherous
Gateways
Dimmu Borgir
Chess With The Abyss
Ritualist
A Jewel Traced Through Coal
Eradication Instincts Defined (orchestra/choir only)
Vredesbyrd
Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse
The Serpentine Offering
Fear And Wonder (orchestra/choir only)
Kings Of The Carnival Creation
Puritania
Mourning Palace
Perfection Or Vanity (orchestra/choir only)

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