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Let it be known that Norwegian symfo metallers Dimmu Borgir and their long-time contractor Nuclear Blast Records are, were, and never will be above completely and utterly milking their fanbase for every penny they’re worth. Thus we have the “Council Of Wolves and Snakes” EP, another prelude to the band’s much protracted “Eonian” epos, their first in eight years. From the looks of it it's an easy paycheck for everyone involved. They couldn’t even be bothered to allocate actual artwork for this soon-to-be redundant excuse of an extended play. If “Council Of Wolves and Snakes” is anything to go by, better prepare for the worst with “Eonian”.

There’s a grand total of exactly one new song here and the remaining five tracks, live and otherwise, have been culled from various EPs and region-exclusive album bonus tracks. In other words, band and label are charging fans for material already released and that some probably already own. Thus it offers no additional value to the single it appears on. The EP opens with a cover of ‘Nocturnal Fear’ from Swiss proto-metal combo Celtic Frost, a track that originally appeared on the 1996 “Devil’s Path” EP. It is followed by ‘Masses For the New Messiah’, an exclusive Japanese bonus track on 1999’s “Spiritual Black Dimensions”. ‘D.M.D.R. (Dead Men Don't Rape)’ is a G.G.F.H. cover that was a bonus track to Shagrath’s Mask version limited edition of 2010’s “Abrahadabra”. ‘Chaos Without Prophecy’ and the live rendition of “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant” staple ‘In Death’s Embrace' both originally appeared on the 1998 EP “Godless Savage Garden” which in itself functioned as a precursor to the earlier mentioned “Spiritual Black Dimensions”. Dimmu Borgir’s greed knows no bounds and once “Eonian” hits shelves this EP will be rendered null and void, but that won’t stop them from robbing fans blind.

Which brings up to the actual new content, a single track at that, of this EP. It seems Dimmu Borgir is genuinely trying to expand their sound here. Whether or not you come to Dimmu Borgir for what they’re attempting here is another thing entirely. ‘Council Of Wolves and Snakes’ is... something, although you’ll be hardpressed to gauge exactly what they were attempting here. ‘Council Of Wolves and Snakes’ starts with some winding psychedelic guitar noodling that wouldn’t feel out of place on one of those 70s occult rock revivalist records from Svart Records that came in response to Pentagram reforming in 2008. A vague Middle Eastern melody is introduced, but nothing is ever done with it. The prerequisite heavier section sets in and the pre-chorus comes replete with ethnic chants and tribal percussion straight out of “The Cross Of Changes” from German new age-world music project Enigma. The heavier riff is duly returned upon before giving way to an extended soft clean guitar part with string sections and choral backing during the choruses. Since this is supposed to be Dimmu Borgir Shagrath’s increasingly studio processed vocals include whispers and narration next to his exhausted croaks. For this band’s standards (lowly as they are) this borders on a trudging doom-like dirge, but everything stays safely in the pop-formatted power metal formula of Nightwish.

The question, of course, is: is this what people come to Dimmu Borgir for? The earlier “Interdimensional Summit” EP was a lot of things, but it wasn’t good. To their credit, this song as well as the earlier released one do sound very different from anything and everything the band has done prior to “Abrahadabra”. Dimmu Borgir these days sounds strangely life-affirming, uplifting, and triumphant in ways usually reserved for Scandinavian and Japanese power – and neoclassical metal. There isn’t enough material present to justify the +5 minute lenght (there’s barely enough content for the standard 3 minutes) and, as per tradition with this band, they artificially draw out what little there is of the actual song. Apparently this song was important enough to warrant a music video. Make of that what you will...

Granted everything is pristinely produced, a bit too clean altogether perhaps. Gone are the days when this band played atmospheric folk metal, romantic dark metal, keyboard-oriented groove and industrial metal. These days Dimmu Borgir is a thinly-veiled power metal act with only a veneer of what they once were. Perhaps Shagrath, Silly-Nose and Galder are growing mellow and soft in their old age? Who knows... or cares at this point? “Council Of Wolves and Snakes” is very much a continuation of the path the band embarked on with “Abrahadabra”. It remains to be seen whether or not the fans will follow them along this path. Time will tell whether “Eonian” was worth the near-decade long hiatus from the studio.

Ah, Dimmu Borgir. Nuclear Blast’s trusty cashcow and probably the most vapid, inconsequential and populist Norwegian metal act to somehow stumble into a career. So here we are with the second post-ICS Vortex/Mustis effort and the first sign of life from Dimmu Borgir after an 8-year hiatus from the recording studio. “Interdimensional Summit” is their latest exercise in tedium and it cements the notion that their best and brightest days are now well behind them. “Interdimensional Summit” is the scion of the worst aspects from “Abrahabadra” and “Death Cult Armageddon” and probably the lowest the Norwegians have yet sunk. It’s easily the worst this band has yet expelled from its creative colon and a new low in a canon containing treacherously few peaks to begin with.

For the lack of a better descriptor “Interdimensional Summit” sounds like a slightly more muscular Nightwish or Therion (circa “Vovin”) without the sense of grandeur. More troubling is that Dimmu Borgir still insists on chugging (or writing any substantial riffs for that matter) like it’s 1994. “Interdimensional Summit” is power metal in all but name. This is the most enthrone darkness triumphant that Dimmu Borgir has yet sounded. It makes you pine for the simpler days of the neither-here-nor-there populist groove/thrash of “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”, the keyboard-dominant excursions into the “Spiritual Black Dimensions” or even the incoherent semi-industrial debacle known as “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” where Dimmu Borgir badly aped Fear Factory. Therion did what Dimmu Borgir does in 2018 far better in 1998. “Vovin” at least had the decency to be tolerable in its operatics and reliance on choirs. “Interdimensional Summit” is as aimless, purposeless, and portentously pompous as Dimmu Borgir has ever been.

Whether it’s the marching tempo, the orchestral pomp and the heavy reliance on choirs to carry the title song – this is Dimmu Borgir in all of its defective glory. “Interdimensional Summit” trudges and chugs, evidently without any apparent direction or trajectory in mind, with all the repetitive riffing and vocal effects we have come to expect from this band. It is immaculately produced, certainly. Too smooth and glossy for its own good, perhaps. Daray, the Polish import and probably the best drummer this band had the good fortune to recruit, is reduced to keeping time. Geir Bratland has officially replaced Mustis and he’s the least offensive part of the new membership. “Interdimensional Summit” more than anything else, prior or since, so perfectly encapsulates Shakespeare’s famous quote from Macbeth: “It is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Dimmu Borgir could very well be mistaken for any interchangeable Finnish symfo death/power metal band at this point. It’s crass commercialism at its most vile.

If anything it’s conclusive proof that Dimmu Borgir is impervious to any kind of growth or evolution. It’s the culmination of every wrongheaded implication that “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant” hinted at. The complete dearth of any meaningful riffs, the standard rock drumming and Shagrath’s tired vocal performance herald yet another transformation for the band. The post-ICS Vortex/Mustis years will remember Dimmu Borgir as the band making their identity crisis their entire raison d'être. The band remains as polarizing as they’ve ever been and, no doubt, a good portion of their undiscerning fanbase will eat this up without question. Dimmu Borgir never was, is, or will be, black metal in any capacity it is traditionally understood. Dimmu Borgir – in case their product in the last twenty years wasn’t enough of an indication – is populist swill for the masses: low on substance, bereft of both intelligence and integrity and blatantly commercialized and commoditized as to appeal to a broad audience as possible. All the signs have been pointing at this for over a decade now. The masks have fallen from The Kings Of the Carnival Creation – and the sight, for those not in the know, is grotesque and deformed.