Australia has seen an extremely satisfying influx of major international touring heavy acts over the last decade or so. Our shores have become a vital stop on bands’ touring schedules of late, despite our great distance from the actual places where most of these bands are based. Aussie metal-heads pay their admission prices and show up to gigs in their droves, subsequently buying merch and beer in great quantities, and showing great enthusiasm at the gigs themselves. The bands usually put on a ripping show and display great appreciation and gratitude to the fans in return. It all seems to add up to a very positive and mutually beneficial arrangement.
Think of a list of names of well known international heavy bands and they have probably toured here in the last ten years, at least once, and in many cases multiple times. Opeth, Devin Townsend, Machine Head, Queensryche, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Korn, Amon Amarth, Cradle Of Filth, Dream Theater, Soilwork, Slayer, Fear Factory, Soulfly and many, many others all appear to have us firmly on their touring radars.
However, one major act that have been extremely conspicuous in their absence from Australia across their .long history are the Norwegian titans, and inarguably the biggest black metal act on the planet, Dimmu Borgir. Whatever the reason is for their avoidance of us in the past has been unclear – whether it be for reasons of finance, distance, conflicting schedules or a combination of each – but according to long time guitarist Galder, this situation may indeed be about to change, with Australia in their sights for their next bout of touring.
That tour is in support of their soon-to-be-released monumental new album, enigmatically titled Abrahadabra (with strong emphasis on the words may and possibly, as this is far from confirmed, so please refrain from shooting the messenger if it doesn’t actually eventuate.)
“We’ve always wanted to go to Australia,” Galder explains, in his thick Scandinavian accent, “but it’s not really up to us, it depends on the timing. There’s always bands there at the same time, and stuff like that.
“On all the albums we talked about going there,” he adds, “we know it’s a great country for metal, and we know we have fans there.
“At the moment we’re talking about maybe going there in the spring (autumn for us), or something like that. But I mean it’s nothing booked, and this is just to be taken lightly. But we’ll really try to make it work, ‘cos then we can do Japan, Australia maybe New Zealand and all those countries.
“Unfortunately Australia is so far away, but we definitely want to come over there, it’s something for us to go to Australia; it’s a beautiful country. We are definitely up for it. So we’ll see what happens, but I think we will come! It’s about time.”
Dimmu Borgir have completed work on and are set to unleash Abrahadabra (a title taken from the works of famous purveyor of the black arts, Aleister Crowley) which shapes as a titanic black metal opus… and provides a change from the three word album titles that have abounded in their career.
Although the album has been very hush-hush and no access to it was permitted to journalists, all accounts point to the album being a massive, dark, symphonic black metal epic, full of orchestral and choral magnificence amid the wall of metal guitars, and harkening back to the glory of 2003’s all time classic Death Cult Armageddon, after the stripped back, guitar driven affair that was their last record In Sorte Diaboli. “
Personally I think the last album was a bit too guitar orientated,” Galder opines, surprisingly, being a guitar player, “there wasn’t that much keyboards on it. All the orchestral parts were mainly done on Midi.” Galder confirms these reports of the new album;s vision: “Yes, that’s probably the closest thing you can compare it to,” he states, regarding their return to the authentic symphonic days of Death Cult Armageddon. “
It’s the biggest production we have ever done. We have a huge orchestra, over 100 persons that worked on it; a lot of guest musicians, clean vocals, we have a big choir. So yes, I think Death Cult Armageddon is the closest, but it’s also a very varied album. It can be a bit slow, and some songs can be very very fast, so there’s something for everyone there I think.”
The album has reportedly taken almost a year to complete, no doubt due to it being a huge, immersing undertaking with such majestic and expansive songwriting and instrumentation, in the grand and (happily) overblown Dimmu tradition. Galder expands on the album’s evolution, including the highly complex writing, recording and especially mixing processes, “We always make riffs at home,” he explains, “and then we meet up in our own studio and we just share all our ideas. Then we say if we like them or not, and record it on a computer. We use Cubase, and the ‘Drumkit from Hell’ to do drums. All the orchestral parts we just use Midi initially, and then do it on the keyboards. So that’s just the basic steps.
“Then we start fooling around with a load of samples, with the vocals and intros and outtros. Then we went to Sweden to record the drums. We did the vocals in Sweden as well. The guitars were recorded in Oslo, and we mixed everything in Andy Sneap’s place in England. It was recorded in many different places… so that was a bit different from what we’re used to.
“That’s the challenging part,” he continues, on the complexity of the mixing process, “as I said we make the orchestra on keyboards first, and then give it to a guy called Gaute Storaas, who worked with us on Death Cult. He just arranged everything, put all the right instruments into place, which violins to play where, which cellos to play where and stuff like that. And we had meetings with him on a regular basis, so we have everything under control.
“But of course to mix all this always challenging, and it’s not really an easy job for the mixer guy,” he says with massive understatement, “but I think he’s pulled it off good… there’s a lot going on, but at the same time we’re very careful not to drown everything, you know.”
Abrahadabra is due very shortly, and symphonic black metal fans should be celebrating in their covens, dungeons and graveyards everywhere. It will no doubt be one of the most prodigious releases of 2010, and fingers crossed we get to witness the live beast that is Dimmu Borgir.
DIMMU BORGIR’s new album, Abrahadabra is out this week through Riot!/Warner. They have also just been added to the line-up for the sold out Soundwave festival at the Melbourne Showgrounds on March 4 next year.