Dimmu Borgir with Children Of Bodom , Hypocrisy and Nevermore at the Guvernment (132 Queens Quay East), Tuesday, (November 11), 7:30 pm. $26.50. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Norwegians are scary folk. not in a Pumpkinhead or Dr. Kevorkian kind of way; they frighten because they speak better English than most to whom the tongue is native, and possess an assured manner that can threaten those to whom acute insecurity is as familiar as the urge to take a huge dump after gorging on beef jerky. Read between the lines: Nordicness makes me tingle with envy and fear.
However, the great equalizer in all this is Scandinavian (often Norwegian) black metal and its accompanying ridiculous imagery. It's so over the top, yet done with consummate skill and such histrionics that it renders the whole of Scandinavia accessible.
A conversation with Erkekjetter Silenoz, lead guitarist and lyricist for Dimmu Borgir, melodic black metal's biggest touring band next to Cradle of Filth, is anything but histrionic. Odd, really. Maybe turning over all your album art, lyrics and general band attitude to the darkness helps exorcise it from within oneself and leads to a general sense of well-being. So what up, Silenoz?
"We're very happy with Death Cult Armageddon," he says over the phone of their newest full-length as Dimmu gets ready to rock a sold-out crowd in Portugal.
"It's mixed well - exactly how we wanted it, not fucked up like some of our older stuff."
When he swears, it's kind of scary, but I don't feel as if the warrior spirit of Odin, or even that of Heimdall, is being channelled through the man. Perhaps this only occurs during his frenzied lyric-writing sessions, which in the past have produced such stellarly titled works as Sons Of Satan Gather For Attack, Enthrone Darkness Triumphant and the seminal Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia and its accompanying tour DVD, Live Misanthropy.
Where did the inspiration to overuse the word "misanthropy" come from?
"Misanthropic just perfectly describes how I feel about things," he says in a sexy deadpan. "I don't hate everybody in the world. I'm happy. But when you think about how much religion has fucked things up, it's hard not to be angry."
Some fans feel that adding keyboards, as Dimmu Borgir does, or melodies to black metal songs completely destroys their metallicity. On Death Cult Armageddon, the band uses the Prague Philharmonic to further their sonic ambitions.
Many orchestral metal groups claim to be inspired by Wagner and other such lofty composers, but the songs on DCA have more in common with the adventure-movie sound of John Williams, or Carmina Burana as conducted by Spike Jones. It's not a bad thing; it's phenomenal background music for any advanced Dungeons-and-Dragons-related happening.
Silenoz says the black metal scene is changing.
"There's been way less backstabbing and shit-talking, and that's been good."
Evidence of this camaraderie is found in fellow huge black metal name Abbath's (of Immortal) lending vocals to Dimmu's new disc.
"We always wanted to record with him so we asked him, and he said it would be an honour. We went into the studio in a night, and he did great. We ran up a $1,000 bar tab that night. Well, not $1,000 - but hundreds of dollars!"
Associating with classical music and drunkenly recording with fellow black metallers is one thing, but the next step forward in 21st-century black metal, to my mind, is a Judgement Night-style collaboration with like-minded rappers like Dirty South frightener Bone Crusher. How close is this to happening?
"Actually, it's already happened," says Silenoz, "(Lead singer) Shagrath has done a song with Diaz, who's the number-one Norwegian rapper."
That's how you get to the top of the metal scrap heap. Never underestimate the sublime power of ridiculousness, even if it means mating black Norwegian metal with white Norwegian hiphop.