Dimmu Borgir
The Invaluable Darkness (DVD)

I went to see Dimmu Borgir a few years ago here in AZ. Before the show, my buddy and I went across the street to get some pre-show dinner at a popular cantina – the kind of place that’s usually a meet-market on the weekends for the image-conscious Scottsdale crowd. So imagine our surprise when we walk in and see Galder, Silenoz and Mustis enjoying some chicken tacos and Coronas at the bar. Makes sense – even Satan’s carnival orchestra has to eat – but it was so out of character from what we knew we’d see in an hour.

That’s the first thing I always think of when I remember that night (well, that and the trenchcoated, corpse-painted dork whining to the bouncer that he’d forgotten his ID). Even though we saw the band out of costume and out of character, it reinforced that Dimmu Borgir wasn’t just there to play a concert. They were there to put on a show – and they are terrific showmen.

Case in point, this excellent 3-disc DVD set just released in October, which has to be one of the most entertaining live compilations I’ve seen in a long time. Impressive graphics and production on the menus, two long shows – one in Oslo and one at Wacken – and a host of extras. And most importantly, it sounds fucking great.

The Oslo show on Disc 1 features a well-chosen set list from pretty much every album (excluding For All Tid). There’s a number of favorites from Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, the In Sorte stuff sounds huge, and they even threw in gems like “The Insight and the Catharsis,” off of Spiritual Black Dimensions. Not enough from Puritanical (my favorite), but “Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny” is here, and that’s what’s important.

Of course, “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse” is the bombastic opener, and although the synth library can’t compete with the Prague Philharmonic, it’s only an issue during that one song. For the rest of the concert, the mix and orchestration sounds great, with the guitars and double-bass battery dominating like they’re supposed to. Shagrath’s performance is spot-on (although his angry Norwegian banter with the crowd between songs sounds even scarier than his regular vocals), and many of the songs seem like they were chosen because they showcase Vortex’s amazing clean vocals. Seriously, the guy has one of the most magnificent voices in all of metal.

Visually, it’s a lurid, spectral light show of blues and greens, as if the band were playing atop the walls of Minas Morgul, and there’s a quick rhythm of varied camerawork and angles to heighten the excitement. My only complaint is that the show was filmed in a theater-type venue, where it’s clear that the crowd is confined to their seats and rows, so some of the natural chaos is removed. But that’s not the band’s problem, and the Wacken set more than makes up for that.

In fact, I enjoyed the Wacken set on Disc 2 even more than the Oslo show – perhaps because I want to make it there one day so badly. Hopefully Dimmu will be playing that year, because this is another monster performance. Perhaps it’s the size of the endless crowd of metal faithful stretching out to the horizon, or the night sky above, or the blooming explosions of firepots on the stage, but the Wacken show seemed even more epic, and the band even more ferocious. It’s much the same setlist, although it also boasts “Kings of the Carnival Creation” – yet another chance for Vortex to shine.

(Note: There is an issue with the Wacken set on Disc 2, where it initially seems to have no sound. Nuclear Blast has acknowledged that this was a manufacturing error, and is sending out replacements. In the meantime, you can use this workaround: Select the Wacken show, and then on the subscreen where you choose between Surround and Stereo, highlight your selection and then press Stop to return to your DVD player’s default screen. When you press Play again from there, the show will play with audio.)

As far as the extras go, there’s a collection of music videos (mostly taken from the last few albums – I hadn’t seen the one for “The Chosen Legacy,” which features medieval zombie wenches and lots of swordplay), an additional live performance from the P3 session in Norway, and a long, behind-the-scenes feature. That video is little more than a haphazard home movie (still interesting at times), but there’s even more entertaining tour footage you can access during the Oslo show (press your Enter button when a symbol is displayed onscreen).

As a longtime Dimmu fan, I enjoyed the hell out of this release – it makes me wish they were playing here again right now, so I could go and see them. That’s as much as you can ask from any concert video.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
January 15th, 2009


  1. Commented by: Xenograph

    What an awesome review Mr. Itkowitz! I really can’t wait to get my hands on this DVD now. I have seen Dimmu live and they have put on one of the best shows I’ve ever been to; though I was not as impressed when I saw them last year. On a side note, that show you mention in Phoenix was the breakout for a Phil Collins cover duo who opened. They became pretty hot around Phoenix for many years. Apparently they split up due to some nasty artistic disagreements…

  2. Commented by: gabaghoul

    why thank you sir.

    you wouldn’t happen to be talking about the two jackasses in the pit singing Sussudio and Invisible Touch before Dimmu came on, would you?

  3. Commented by: axiom

    I know I’ll be getting this one soon. I’ve played their last DVD quite a bit through the years. And you’re damn right about Vortex’s abilities – just listen to Borknagar’s Quintessence album.

    This audio problem though, can you get the surround mix going on that second disc? Anyways, nice review Gaba. These guys can deliver the goods, regardless of what the whiners decry as not being BM. Who cares.

  4. Commented by: Belgarath

    Wow, great review man! Not the biggest Dimmu fan, but I might just pick this one up.

  5. Commented by: Belgarath

    And much agreement with the Vortex appreciation. Such a versatile vocalist.

  6. Commented by: TNBM

    If someone has the dvd of DIMMU can you please upload the drawn pentagram from the inside.. i’d like to tattoo it on my shoulder:)


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