After a widely successful and highly impressive "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" DIMMU BORGIR catapulted themselves even higher into the forefront of the Symphonic Black Metal genre. Everything at the time was going their way. They had recently acquired OLD MAN'S CHILD frontman Galder, BORKNAGAR frontman Vortex and renowned CRADLE OF FILTH drummer Nick Barker, and the mixture of so many acclaimed musicians worked extremely well, as DIMMU BORGIR unleashed one of the year's best albums. It seemed that they had nowhere to go but down.
When you're DIMMU BORGIR however, you find new heights to reach, and apparently, you attain them. While not drastically different from "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia", "Death Cult Armageddon" makes the aforementioned seem immature by comparison. The orchestral element from "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" remains, but is used on a much grader scale, as they opted to use a full 46 piece orchestra, as opposed to a small chamber ensemble. With the addition of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Of course, just having the orchestra is nothing, and knowing how to use it is everything. Instead of simply using the orchestra as a large, expensive background instrument that simply copies the guitar riff every once and a while, it is used as it should be, taking the forefront of certain passages, falling towards the background but still playing it's own distinct part in addition to becoming part of the background. DIMMU BORGIR also avoid overusing the orchestra, and avoid 'using it for using its sake' or trying to hard.
Opting to start the album without any grandiose melancholic song this time is the first thing you notice, which, although disappointing (since "Fear And Wonder" was such a great opening track), is quickly erased from memory once "Allegiance" erupts in a fury that lets you know you're in for one hell of a ride.v The riffs on this album are monstrous, and much more infectious than anything they've done before. Galder's riffing style is more prominent on this album as well, as there are plenty of riffs that could easily be attributed to him. In keeping with stepping this album up a notch, the riffs come off as more violent, more dangerous. Little has changed vocally, Shagrath is still a snarling beast, but at times he comes off as even more venomous than before. To the dismay, or relief, depending on your point of view, of many fans, Vortex's vocal duties were cut short this time, as he can only be heard on a couple of tracks.
One of the major complaints surrounding "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" was the triggered drum sound. Everyone agreed the drumming was great, but was too prominent in the mix, and slightly annoying. On this one, the drums have settled into their place, and are neither dominant nor pushed into the background. The actual style is as it was before, as Nick Barker delivers another top-notch performance.
Everything came together perfectly for this album, and the end result couldn't be any better. Fantastic album. (Online August 14, 2003)