There isn’t a band I’ve changed my opinion on more than Dimmu Borgir. They were the first black metal band I got into at age 14, with Stormblåst being the first black metal album I ever bought. As I got closer to the end of my teenage years, I went through my “elitist” phase and dismissed the band. A couple of years ago, I experienced a brief Dimmu revival, but now I just can’t bring myself to pay attention to anything they release. Still, in spite of their evolution from childhood heroes to guilty pleasure, Stormblåst never lost its magic. And so for this week’s #tbt, let’s take a look back at it:
Dimmu Borgir emerged from fertile Norwegian soil in 1993 and quickly started to make a name for itself through the EP, Inn i evighetens mørke, and their debut album, For all tid, both released in 1994. These releases showcased the band’s early style: emotional, keyboard-laden, slightly mawkish black metal—an approach that would culminate in their subsequent 1996 album: Stormblåst.
The appeal of Stormblåst mainly relies on it documenting Dimmu Borgir at just the right time. While For all tid has the right idea, the album occasionally suffers from simplistic, inconsistent compositions. On the other hand, 1997’s Enthrone Darkness Triumphant saw the band move toward standard rock structures and English lyrics, which proved detrimental to their mysterious, gloomy sound. Stormblåst lies comfortably between these two extremes. Most importantly, the better-developed songwriting allows the band to create more enticing atmospheres. Examples include the title track’s long, dramatic outro, as well as the multitude of truly memorable riffs that together form “Vinder fra en ensom grav”. In addition to these improvements over the debut, Stormblåst retains the scruffy underground edges the band started to nerf as soon as they signed to Nuclear Blast.
Although it took me quite a few years to admit my old heroes’ fall from grace, I am now at a point where I no longer pay attention to anything the self-proclaimed “True Kings of Norway™” do. It is a shame that their later releases were more focused on the “brutal” side of Dimmu Borgir, which gradually transformed them into a fairly run-of-the-mill extreme metal band that, by now, mainly distinguishes itself by virtue of its increasingly awkward photo shoots.
In spite of these laments, Stormblåst is by no means a guilty pleasure; rather, it’s simply a kickass album. So give yourself a taste and check out its penultimate track, “Vinder fra en ensom grav,” below: