Best Dimmu Borgir Albums

With one of the most recognizable names in all of black metal, Norway’s Dimmu Borgir have established themselves as one of the genre’s most prominent bands. Along with Mayhem, Darkthrone and Emperor, they were instrumental in expanding the second wave of black metal and elevating it to the mainstream. Early on their material brilliantly combined gorgeous atmospheric musical melodies with Shagrath’s screechy razor chewing vocals before refining their sound with dramatic precision later in their career.

Dimmu Borgir’s ability to create orchestral arrangements within their music has always been one of their greatest strengths. No black metal band has found the success on the Billboard charts or seen the album sales that they have been able to produce. Let’s examine their most influential and downright best releases.

01
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'Enthrone Darkness Triumphant' (1997)

Dimmu Borgir - 'Enthrone Darkness Triumphant'
Dimmu Borgir - 'Enthrone Darkness Triumphant'.

Certain bands have releases in their catalog that are clearly their definitive work that will never be replicated. 1997s Enthrone Darkness Triumphant is one of those releases, where Dimmu Borgir found the perfect balance between their symphonic melodic elements and the aggressive buzzsaw guitars. The band's first foray recording with Peter Tägtgren, he helps elevate their sound with his crushing guitar tones. This was Dimmu Borgir’s first release where they abandoned their own Norwegian tongue and fully adapted English lyrics.

The growth is heard instantly with the melodic keyboard parts and razor like guitars of “Mourning Palace” and “Spellbound (By the Devil).” The  keyboards are more intricate than on previous releases as the guitars are written around the synthesizer pieces. Released the same year as Emperor’s equally important Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, these two records are both responsible for bringing the symphonic black metal movement to the masses. Enthrone Darkness Triumphant is not only one of the most influential black metal releases; it also clearly sits atop their impressive catalog.

Recommended Track: "Mourning Palace"

02
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'Stormblåst' (1996)

Dimmu Borgir - 'Stormblåst'
Dimmu Borgir - 'Stormblåst'.

People who claim that Dimmu Borgir is not an atmospheric black metal band have clearly never heard their brilliant 1996 sophomore release, Stormblåst. Even though the production isn’t up to par with their later recordings and the drumming is not on the level of their modern day drummers, one cannot replace the feeling, emotion and attitude captured within. Keyboard player Stian Aarstad composes extraordinary movements throughout that feature landscape imagery and carries an emotional weight that isn’t heard often in black metal.   

The stunning one two punch of “Alt lys er svunnet hen” and Broderskapets ring” still rank as some of the bands best material. Stormblåst isn’t overly aggressive, but makes up for it with the passion in the performances. Shagrath gives the most remarkable performance of his career, perfectly blending his screech induced vocals with a gothic croon that he never returns to. The record was re-recorded in 2005; even though the band does a serviceable job, it doesn’t capture the spirit of the original.

Recommended Track: "Alt lys er svunnet hen"

03
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'Spiritual Black Dimensions' (1999)

Dimmu Borgir - 'Spiritual Black Dimensions'
Dimmu Borgir - 'Spiritual Black Dimensions'.

Dimmu Borgir’s fourth album Spiritual Black Dimensions is the band's most ferocious and intense of their career. The symphonic elements are enhanced and are employed in a greater use. This is the last album to feature Nagash before shifting his focus full time on the equally polarizing Kovenant. This is the first release to feature clean vocals, with the distinctive pipes of ICS Vortex being utilized heavily. The high quality melody he brings to the music skyrockets the band's accessibility and adds a needed dimension to their sound.

The pace is unyielding, and merged with the breathtaking melodies of the keyboards it makes for an intense listen. The band shifts their stride on “Reptile,” United in Unhallowed Grace” and the atmospheric “Dreamside Dominions.” The lead guitar playing by Astennu is a remarkable improvement and is never matched again as this was his only full-length album with the band. His playing adds a level of maturity that can match the impressive keyboard skills of Mustis, whom also begins his long tenured journey here. This release signals the end of the band's formidable initial stage of their career.

Recommended Track: "Dreamside Dominions"

04
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'Death Cult Armageddon' (2003)

Dimmu Borgir - 'Death Cult Armageddon'
Dimmu Borgir - 'Death Cult Armageddon'.

Following a similar style to their previous album, Dimmu Borgir’s 2003 release Death Cult Armageddon is the most focused and strongest of their latter day releases. The lineup is imposing, with Galder, ICS Vortex and Nick Barker all contributing. Each one brings their own unique flavor to the proceedings. This is their second album in a row with the same consistent lineup and the band oozes more confidence. Silenoz and Galder’s riffs are at their most domineering, especially on “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse” and “Blood Hunger Doctrine.”

Taking on an incredible challenge, the band utilizes the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra to compose their orchestral arrangements and forgoes the synthesizer. The accompaniment is vibrant and brings their compositions to the next level. Immortal’s legendary vocalist Abbath contributes guest vocals on two tracks and the band utilizes their native tongue again on a couple of tracks. ICS Vortex’s unique melodic vocals are restrained during the record as Shagrath takes center stage and lets loose his inhuman squall throughout.

Recommended Track: "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse"

05
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'Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia' (2001)

Dimmu Borgir - 'Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia'
Dimmu Borgir - 'Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia'.

With their fifth release Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, Dimmu Borgir see a major shift in their sound. The band's focus moves further away from their black metal roots and starts adapting more modern influences. Bringing in Old Man Child’s Galder as their permanent second guitarist elevates the guitar riffs as he is instrumental in bringing a more traditional feel to the songwriting process. This is the first release that sees ICS Vortex and Nick Barker establish themselves as the rhythm section and it tightens up the band considerably.

Galder’s presence is instantly felt on the intricate riffing of “Architecture of a Genocidal Nature” and “Absolute Sole Right.” The polyrhythmic riffing and spoken word vocals from Shagrath on “Puritania” are unlike anything the band has attempted before and it stands as one of their heaviest tracks. The centerpiece of the record is the brilliant “Kings of the Carnival Creation.” The tour-de-force creates brain splattering blast beats with some of the most atmospheric music the genre has seen. Even though the band lost a lot of the black metal traditionalists with this release, they still show a propensity for composing intricate, memorable songs.

Recommended Track: "Kings of the Carnival Creation"