It was a night of legendary Norwegian metal at the Palladium, with both Enslaved and Dimmu Borgir taking the stage in support of their acclaimed new albums (Axioma Ethica Odini and Abrahadabra, respectively). Enslaved delivered a powerful set, clearly demonstrating their solidity as a band, as well as their passion for delivering the triumphantly stunning riffs that have captivated listeners for twenty years. Opening with ‘Axioma’ and ‘Ethica Odini,’ they showcased their new album beautifully and the crowd was incredibly receptive.
Despite the massive Abrahadabra banner behind them, Enslaved owned the stage during the entirety of their set. It was clear that the audience was not simply waiting for Dimmu Borgir to perform; the crowd was fully engrossed as Enslaved played seven songs. Their performance set them apart as a band truly worthy of headlining a tour, and hopefully fans will be able to see them do this in the future. Once they left the stage, the energy in the Palladium seemed to swell as the crowd prepared to see Dimmu Borgir take the stage for the debut show of their North American tour.
A short break transpired after Enslaved, but fans stayed rapt, their eyes glued to where Dimmu Borgir would soon be playing. An arc of blue lights illuminated the eerie, tortured, face of the Abrahadabra banner as mist poured out over the stage. Skulls littered the floor near the double bass drums, and as Dimmu Borgir emerged, the crowd exploded with enthusiasm. Opening with ‘Xibir,’ the introductory track of the orchestra-laden Abrahadabra, and launching into ‘Spellbound (By The Devil).’ Dimmu took Worcester by storm, with a sound that was both refined and exuberant. Shagrath, Galder, and Silenoz, the core of Dimmu Borgir, worked the stage with a confidence that only comes with years of performing together.
Any doubts about their abilities surrounding their lineup changes were quickly laid to rest as they played through their set. ‘It’s time to remove the blindfold of hypocrisy,’ Shagrath announced, before the band played through ‘Indoctrination,’ from their album Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. The strobe lights matched up with the lightning-fast drums, creating an amazing visual effect to match Dimmu’s aural assault. The support of the crowd grew with every song, with each tier of the audience headbanging whether they were in the pit or towards the back of the venue. Though they played many songs from their past throughout the night, they took a break to truly showcase their newest release, Abrahadabra, playing five tracks off the album, including crowd favorites ‘Dimmu Borgir’ and ‘Born Treacherous.’ During ‘Dimmu Borgir,’ fans sang along perfectly to the chorus, as Shagrath magnanimously offered them the microphone.
Their most orchestral work since their sixth studio album, Death Cult Armageddon, one might think Abrahadabra would be better suited for personal listening at home, as opposed to a live performance. However, Dimmu Borgir was able to include the album’s orchestral tracks with amazing effectiveness in their live show. They sounded fantastic, perfectly placed within the mix, and were truly able to represent the album’s richly layered orchestral sounds. Even the female guest vocals on ‘Gateways’ were incorporated, and they sounded as raw and visceral as they do on the album.
Their performances from Abrahadabra likely converted many in the crowd who may have been uncertain as to whether or not they should invest in the new album. Ending the section of the set dedicated to Abrahadabra with the blisteringly fast ‘A Jewel Traced Through Coal,’ Dimmu Borgir took fans on a journey through their past discography.
Though he surely could have predicted the answer, Shagrath asked the crowd if there were any ‘old school Dimmu fans’ present. His question was met with a resounding roar of ‘Yes!’ and the band responded by playing some of the most well-known and best loved songs from their past releases.
After playing ‘The Blazing Monoliths Of Defiance’ from their 1999 album Spiritual Black Dimensions, they ended their set with the epic and powerful fourth track from Death Cult Armageddon, ‘Vredesbyrd.’ Though Dimmu took a brief intermission after the song ended, it was clear they hadn’t yet unleashed their full fury on Worcester. What transpired next could be better described as a second set than an encore.
With their low, powerful stances and faces streaked with sweat and corpse paint, Dimmu Borgir unleashed their five-song encore with incredible ferocity. Classics were played, and the crowd was absolutely ecstatic – but the defining moment was during the third song, ‘Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse.’ There had been buzz as to whether or not this song would be played the entire night, and when the unmistakable riff began, the orchestral track sounding absolutely explosive behind it, the crowd went wild. Dimmu is a band that understands and appreciates their audience. Their encore was like a gift; regardless of when a fan began to follow Dimmu, a song was played for them. It was truly an unforgettable show, not only because Dimmu Borgir are black metal legends, but because they proved to all in attendance that they are still evolving their trademark sound, and will surely be legends in metal For All Tid.