When DIMMU BORGIR released their „Spiritual Black Dimensions“ record, they must have been under a certain pressure to work hard. Its predecessor “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant” had overran the scene and brought the band to a broader audience. It was then not really surprising that the Norwegians could in fact keep up the high level on “Spiritual...” but they couldn’t overdo “Enthrone...”. In 1999, the band had been in a wrap (e.g. the departure of Nagash after the recordings) and this was also obvious in the band’s sound.
On the positive side was that the guitars had been more in the forefront on “Spiritual...” than on “Enthrone...” or elder records due to the new guitar player Astennu. On the other side, there are still many songs overfilled with keyboards, so that the listening joy sometimes suffers and it’s altogether sounding a bit too overdone. Vocally is shouter Shagrath on “Spiritual...” supported by ICS Vortex alias Simen from BORKNAGAR, who later completely got into DIMMU BORGIR. He’s responsible for the “clean” vocal parts, another new element of the DIMMU sound.
The songs are altogether a bit more pretentious than before and not as catchy as before. You have to listen to this record a few times until you get really into. But in the end, “Dreamside Dominions”, „Arcane Lifeforce Mysteria“, „Reptile“ and especially „The Insight And The Catharsis“ reward the patient listener with their compactness. These songs could have also been on “Enthrone...”. If you let yourself fall, you can completely dip into them. The atmosphere drags you along and doesn’t let you go out of the “black dimension”. The remaining songs aren’t bad as well but they are more difficult to get into. I miss some depth and aforementioned atmosphere.
Like I said, “Spiritual Black Dimensions” is a bit weaker than “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”. But for the development of the band, this record was a huge and important step. Without these steps, they have taken that time, the band maybe wouldn’t exist still today or they wouldn’t come a step forward anymore. Everyone should make an own picture of it and those, who own this record, will agree to me or not. A small tip: take the time and listen to this record under your headphones. Then you will discover the whole spectre of the sound.
Check out tips: “The Insight And The Carharsis”, “Dreamside Dominions”... (Online March 10, 2004)