CONCERT REVIEW: Dimmu Borgir/Enslaved/Blood Red Throne

Last night in Worcester, Mass., Norwegians invaded the Palladium to crush the Americans as they knew best: with awesome extreme metal. On the bill were Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved, Blood Red Throne, with the American group Dawn Of Ashes.

I missed Dawn of Ashes. I arrived to see equipment being taken off the stage, while a couple of their t-shirts were at the merchandise booth–so it looked like they played. I arrived at the time posted on the website for the show to start, so either it was wrong or the band played early. Either way, I probably would not have reviewed them in great detail, as they weren’t on for very long. Sorry, guys.

Blood Red Throne took the stage with their Norwegian band of death metal… or at least I thought they did. I had a hard time making out what most of the band was playing. I know it’s not a very metal thing to say, but… TURN DOWN THE DAMN GUITAR ON STAGE RIGHT! With the earplugs in, it was about all I could hear. The vocals were pretty loud, too; I have no problem with that, though, that sometimes makes sense. I could make out that the bass was there, and a little of the drums… but the one guitar drowned out the rest of the band. I took out the ear plugs a few times–it helped, I could make out the other guitar. Still, the guitar on stage right sounded very piercing, and I kept having to put the plugs back in. Perhaps it was the type of distortion he used? To be honest, it didn’t fit in with the rest of the band anyway, so perhaps by changing the distortion the band becomes clear. The pit didn’t seem to mind, though, as the crowd went crazy for this band. The band fed off that energy, apparently playing with fervor. I just wish I could make out what they were doing. So… I guess I have to give the rating of “horns non-applicable.”

This was the third time I’ve seen Enslaved, thought he first at the Palladium. I admit, I was skeptical that they could have pulled it off. I felt that Enslaved’s music would fit better in smaller venues, offering that level of intimacy it demanded. Fortunately, I was wrong. Granted, they concentrated more on the “arena” songs in their discography over the more subtle, thought-provoking ethereal material. Still, they maintained their progressive rock influences throughout. Another thought that bothered me going into the show: playing at the smaller venue I’ve seen them at before, they played to a crowd no bigger than probably two dozen or so. It seemed like they could have closed last night at the Palladium. The crowd seemed to have come primarily for them, with even some leaving before Dimmu Borgir came on. The band seemed to feel the energy, running around the stage, playing to the crowd, and overall giving the audience a kick-ass show. The sound was (refreshingly) excellent. One could pick out all of the instruments–perhaps the keyboards were a little low, but yet nothing felt as if it were missing. Overall, they deserved all the horns one could muster.

If Tim Burton put together a metal show, it probably would have looked like Dimmu Borgir. Even the intro music over the P.A. made me think Edward Scissorhands was going to come out and trim some hedges. Then the three hired hands (Daray, Cyrus, and Brat) took the stage, one at a time… wearing masks. (Brat even kept his on for the entire set. From a distance it reminded me of a derby and diamond mask, reminiscent of a 1930’s super hero.) Then Dimmu Borgir themselves came on stage to the cheering crowd, blasting away the rest of the evening. This was the third or fourth time I’ve seen Dimmu Borgir, and the best yet. I remember getting very disappointed in the past, by the lack of energy and crappy sound. This time, they got their act together. The set focused heavily on the new album, which I reviewed in an earlier post. Well, despite the faults I found in the recording, I must say the songs translated extremely well on stage. The encore consisted of the slightly older and popular songs. Interestingly, Vortex’s clean vocals from the Serpentine Offering and Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse were replaced; the former by Shagrath and prerecorded female vocals, the latter solely by Shagrath.

Of course, Snowy Shaw left the band before the tour, so I still have yet to see him on stage. One day, Snowy, one day….

Dimmu Borgir pummeled the Palladium, earning them double horns up. Going into the show, I knew Enslaved was the band I most wanted to see. I left the show still thinking they were the highlight of the night; however, I will be watching Dimmu Borgir to see what new directions they take. Horns up.

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