By Georgi Bomb
Interrupting one of the founding members of Dimmu Borgir, the biggest black metal band to come from Norway, as he is eating his takeaway dinner is not the best way to start an interview. But thankfully, guitarist/songwriter Silenoz is pleasant enough, scoffing down the final remains of his food and commenting on the weather.
So they are embarking on their special UK tour: An Evening With Dimmu Borgir, which sees the band play two sets; one is a choice of the first three albums played in full: For All Tid (94), Størmblast (96) and Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (97) and was voted for by the fans. The second set consisted of a standard, one hour show featuring a collection of tracks.
Performing for the first time in Norwich, the pre-show atmosphere is calm, easy going and pretty relaxed, everything seems to be running according to plan and everywhere is pretty quiet after they finish sound checking. Fan videos uploaded from the previous shows have received over 1,000 likes within hours of going up on Facebook, so the tour must be going well, ” We’re not used to these small places,” Silenoz says, “but it’s really cool to come back and just be closer to the fans and have that interaction so yeah, it’s gone really well so far. We’ve played better than ever. We’re really happy.”
It’s been a while since the UK have been graced with such an extensive tour from the Norwegian kings of black metal, Silenoz explains why they have chosen this time to treat us: “The last tour we only played London and a couple of other places; we thought it was a way of giving something back to the fans. I mean, they’ve been there all the time so we felt it was time to do something different within a live setting. That’s why we decided on this poll about the three first albums and which one they [the fans] wanted to choose. We kind of expected it to be Enthrone anyway because that’s the album that put us on the map so I’m happy the fans chose that album.”
Does the vote outcome say anything about Dimmu Borgir’s type of fan base? “Some people love the old stuff, some people like the new stuff. I think with the outcome it has shown that this album in particular is the album that all of them like. It’s a very good testament to what we were back then so it’s cool to play that album along with the best of songs. It’s the same band but it’s a different way of how we made songs.”
Earlier this year saw the band put on an amazing sell-out show, playing to 8,000 fans at Oslo’s Spektrum, laying on a one-time only show featuring 53 members of Kork (the Norwegian Radio Orchestra) and 30 members of the Schola Cantorum Choir; who featured on the their ninth studio album, Abrahadabra. Playing these more intimate venues must be a bit of culture shock for the band after performing such large scale shows? “We still go about it the same way, we just use a lot less production than we are used to. So we go about like we would any other show, if it’s a festival or a club show or whatever it’s still the same.
“Personally I like smaller places because the sound is usually better and we get our sound checks. If we play a festival, then there’s hardly any sound check at all and you just have to go about it the way it sounds and it can be sometimes, hit and miss.”
The band hold dearly onto their roots and original influences, confirmed by Silenoz as he discusses their overall look : “I wouldn’t even call it an image, it’s something that goes hand in hand with the music and ever since the beginning we felt it should be a whole package. We grew up with the heavy metal bands in the 80s and they always had a strong image: W.A.S.P, Priest, Iron Maiden and stuff so that’s where we come from and we feel that when you do something that’s art then it should be a full package so we still think that’s very important.
“Actually we did do a show, funnily enough, on Halloween in 2008 or 09 in the States.” He recalls playfully, ” Everyone in the crowd was painted so we thought “ahh let’s skip the paint and see what everyone thinks.” Some kids were like “what? You’re not wearing make-up” but the more grown-up people got to laugh.”
The evening show at the Waterfront in Norwich however, saw the band in full make up and everything that have led this band to receive the acclaim they have worked hard for over the years. Although the first set featuring the fan-voted Enthrone Darkness Triumphant was met with appreciation, it was the second, “best of”, set that whipped the crowd into a frenzy as the band played each song with military precision, seemingly enjoying their first ever show in the land of the turkey.
As front man Shagrath announces the latest release from 2010’s Abrahadabra, Gateways, a possible unrealistic hope that Agnete from Djerv would leap onto the stage to perform her part were met with disappointment but the void was filled by a backing track, which was almost drowned out by the other parts.
In comparison, the first half almost seemed to be a straight through set, one for the more die-hard Borgir fan although still enjoyed by others. The second half found more people involved , with a corresponding atmosphere, showing a different side to the live performance.
Finishing the encore with the opening track from In Sorte Diaboli, The Serpentine Offering and classic track Progenies of the Great Apocalypse, which allowed the fans to have one final, sweaty outburst as the set reached its end. Dimmu Borgir‘s live shows are a clear visual testament to why this band are of the stature they are.
Dimmu Borgir have recently confirmed their one and only UK festival date in 2012 to be at Derbyshire’s Bloodstock Open Air. With this being a singular UK show, will they be laying on anything extra special? We haven’t gotten that far yet but it’s going to be without an orchestra; we are having an orchestra at Wacken and that’s a hell of a lot of preparation plus it costs shit loads of money so we aren’t going to do that at Bloodstock but we do want to do a good, special set that’s for sure.”
Plans for 2012 certainly look full, with a tour in South America for three weeks that the guys are thoroughly excited about, “We are going to do three weeks down there. We haven’t been there for like seven years so it’s going to be crazy I’m sure.” Following that comes a small tour in Norway, a busy festival season then they head back to the states come autumn. Before you know it, another year goes by, leading to the rather sturdy celebrations of their twentieth anniversary.
Another topic of conversation was in regards to their tenth album, which they have decided not to treat as anything different to any other album they write. The aim is to do their best and see what comes out. “We haven’t really planned much. We’ve just started working with ideas and I think we are just going to try and go a bit more with the flow and not have too – I know I say too much when I write – so we are trying to make it more spontaneous definitely.”
Although there is not too much to reveal at this time, one piece of news is that the album will be released to coincide with the band’s anniversary. “I would say it doesn’t feel that old, although it makes me feel old!! We’ve been through a lot, both positive and negative but positive has always been the main focus. It shows that we are a band that is really determined and that we are really focused at all times so hard work and yeah, it all goes hand in hand.”