Abrahadabra (Nuclear Blast)
By Mike Delano
Dimmu Borgir may have waded even deeper than usual into the realm of symphonic melodrama this time around, but they’ve still got the riffs, so fuck you. Bear witness to the snaky curves of “Born Treacherous” or the pounding “Renewal” (with accompanying drum stampede), the latter of which eventually progresses into a marvelously funky sound-alike of Ministry’s “Thieves” as heard through a black metal filter. But the atmosphere surrounding this riff feast can feel like a carnival at times (an evil one, of course). You would think Tinkerbell was being chased around the studio midway through “Ritualist” (which also contains some vocals that sound like Marianne Faithfull being strangled), and even in a seemingly straightforward black metal assault like “A Jewel Traced Through Coal” it’s not long before you’re besieged with some monkish chanting straight from the title screen of Halo. Lots of bands make a point of cutting the fat, but on Abrahadabra, Dimmu pile it on like Paula Deen and, for them at least, it works.