TVD Live Shots: Dimmu Borgir and Amorphis at the O2 Forum, 1/22

Two metal giants on one stage at the legendary O2 Forum in London; Dimmu Borgir and Amorphis are both celebrating 20 plus years of incredible dark metal. They are both still touring with strong support from an incredibly loyal fanbase which happens to overlap perfectly.

2018 saw both metal giants releasing arguably their strongest albums ever, leading to a resurgence of a very crowded metal subgenre that continues to push what was formerly known as death metal into new territory. While the heaviness and satanic overtones still exist, you would never guess that you were watching two bands who basically invented the genre across their respective regions of Norway and Finland. The evolution and addition of symphonic overtones begs the question—is this really just an extreme version of progressive metal?

Either way, the fans are still coming in droves to see these two metal legends. Both bands did headline sets with Amorphis’ set being just a tad bit more accessible for my metal leanings. Their Queen of Time record, which was released in 2018, has been hailed as a modern prog-metal masterpiece. When they mix in the older material, for example, a song like “Sign From the North Side” (classic textbook thrash/ death metal from their early days) and then go straight into a song like “House of Sleep” (mid 2000s), it shows how these guys have matured and learned how to write a magnum metal opus. Queen of Time takes it up a notch by finding a balance of old and new while pushing the production level to something rarely heard in the world of metal. It’s awe-inspiring on the record, but even more of a spectacle to see them pull it off live.

While Amorphis songs show a sign of hope and sometimes even inspiration, Dimmu Borger is pretty much the exact opposite in terms of themes. Dark, evil, hell on earth—brutal crunching verses with these huge choruses that sound almost angelic, but they are clearly not. It’s more like a church choir in hell singing about the end of the world while surrounded by vampires.

I’ve been listening to their latest record Eonian all week. This is some insane stuff, and the fact that they actually play these songs live is fucking mind-blowing. Put this one on at the gym, and you will very likely smash your goals—but might also conjure up a demon at the same time. Either way, if you are a metal fan, this is something you need to see at least once in your metal lifetime. There’s not another dark/ black metal band who does it as masterfully on record or in the live setting. Highlights to check out are “Aetheric” and “The Chosen Legacy” which has the most insane drumming I’ve ever heard before—this guy can’t be human.

It’s one of the heaviest gigs I’ve ever seen. And, unlike the theatrics that often take away from the music of many of their peers from similar genres, Dimmu Borgir especially do just enough to take the show up a notch. It seems to be very natural for them, and the fans react by losing their fucking minds. The fact that the gig was at the legendary O2 Forum is another bonus as most black metal/ progressive bands barely make it out of the club circuit. These guys have grown into the theatre space organically, and it suits them well.


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