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The original opening slot on Dimmu's European tour had been announced as Hatesphere, although the Danish thrashers were forced to pull out after vocalist Jacob Bredahl suddenly left the band. Gothenburg based industrial metallers Engel were brought in as last minute replacements, a band which I admit to knowing very little about. Well, I've heard of them and know what they do, but that's about it! The mid-tempo industrial groove and melodiously catchy riffs that characterise each song are abated by a slightly muddy sound through the PA, although a lively performance from a dynamic frontman ensures Engel receive positive crowd reactions. Nothing original here though, and as their short set progresses, the songs begin to sound indistinguishable. By the time Engel exit the stage, I'm left feeling disappointed that Hatesphere were unable to make the tour, particularly as they would have been appearing with ex-Nevermore guitarist Steve Smyth...never mind!
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Saturday 29th September 2007
Rock City in Nottingham, UK
As with Engel who appeared before them, Swedish Viking death metallers Amon Amarth occupy only a small area of Rock City's main hall stage due to Dimmu's set-up with props and keyboard/drum risers etc. Still, the Swedes have more stage space than when they last appeared at the venue back in April this year when they headlined Rock City's small basement. Widely acknowledged as the original, and best, band in what has loosely become known as the 'Viking metal' subgenre, Amon Amarth's popularity can be witnessed tonight by the large amount of fans attired in their t-shirts, with some carrying drinking horns and exhibiting impressive beards. Viking metal? This is full-on Nordic beard metal! Playing a disappointingly short set of around only 25 minutes, Amon Amarth, unlike Engel, have a crisp and clear sound through the PA. Opening with 'Valhall Awaits Me', first track from 2006 release 'With Oden On Our Side', the audience react enthusiastically with much headbanging and moshing, while 'Cry Of The Blackbirds' and 'Death In Fire' sustain these lively reactions. Very impressive.
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Norwegian black metallers Dimmu Borgir's rapidly growing fanbase in the UK is evidenced tonight by Rock City's near capacity audience. As the lights dim, fans cheer excitedly as two tall, masked figures (from the video for 'The Sacrilegious Scorn') slowly walk on to the stage, swinging incense burners, and staring at the audience with a sinister gaze. A couple of minutes later, band members appear and launch into 'Progenies of the Great Apocalypse' with it's majestic melodies and hard-hitting riffs resonating through the venue with epic grandeur as lively mosh pits ensue. However, two thirds through the song, and Dimmu stop playing as rather bizarrely, and randomly, 'Fear and Wonder', the orchestral into music from 2001 album 'Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia' is clearly audible through the PA! After a couple of minutes delay, the band continue their set with 'Vredesbyrd', though half way through this song, they're inflicted with the same sound 'problems'! This time, the band, noticeably infuriated with these constant interruptions, storm off the stage as frontman Shagrath throws his mic to the floor in a frustrated gesture, and Vortex slams down his bass. After around 5 minutes, they re-appear and Shagrath encourages the crowd to sarcastically applaud the "great sound" in the venue [it transpires the problems were engendered by Rock City's digital mixing desk resetting itself, which I gather may have been caused by an unfortunate beer spillage!]. Playing 'Vredesbyrd' again, this time in its entirety, the remainder of Dimmu's set is fortunately free from major sound glitches, although they do have a fairly muddy sound through the PA for most songs. That said, the Norwegians deliver a stunning performance with a pleasingly varied set that incorporates the likes of 'The Insight and the Catharsis' from 1999's 'Spiritual Black Dimensions', 'In Death's Embrace' from 1997's 'Enthrone Darkness Triumphant' and 'Puritania' from 2001's 'Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia', which are interposed with tracks from their impressive new album 'In Sorte Diaboli' such as 'The Serpentine Offering' and 'The Sinister Awakening'. It is kind of ironic when 'Fear and Wonder' plays on a backing track through the PA (again!) mid-set and the band leave the stage, though this time it is intentionally used to segue into 'Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny' as it does on the recorded version, and is one of a handful of songs aired tonight that showcases bassist Vortex's emotively captivating clean vocals. Dimmu climax with three encore tracks - 'The Sacrilegious Scorn' from the new album, with concomitant video on the projection screens either side of the stage, and playing to a click, this is in synch with their live rendition; 'Grotesquery Conceiled' from 'Spiritual Black Dimensions'; and 'Mourning Palace' from 'Enthrone Darkness Triumphant'. As they leave the stage, the lights remain dimmed and atmospheric outro music is played through the PA, which works well as 'closure' for the show and is an apposite end to the epic transcendence of Dimmu's compositional flair. Sound problems aside, Dimmu Borgir prove their worth as black metal legends tonight with a superlative performance. Absolutely brilliant.
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