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NORWAY, Oslo

Date Formed 1993

Categories: Black Metal, Gothic Metal

DIMMU BORGIR

Current Members

Past Members

Live Session Members

Studio Session Members

Biography

Oslo Black Metal exponents founded in 1993. DIMMU BORGIR, taking its title from the Mývatn volcanic formations in Iceland dubbed 'The Dimmuborgir', or "Dark fortress", deliver bombastic Gothic driven Metal laden with choirs and effects. With a combination of tenacity on the touring front and the undoubted maturity and increasing ambition of successive album releases quickly risen to the very top echelons of the Black Metal scene. The band now rank alongside CRADLE OF FILTH as the best selling Black Metal acts today. In spite of their status the band has weathered the storm of ever fluctuating line-ups.

DIMMU BORGIR's vocalist Shagrath (a.k.a. Stian Thorensen) had previously been a member of FIMBULWINTER, fronting the 1992 'Servants Of Sorcery' album, and RAGNAROK. His stage name Shagrath had been adopted after J.R.R. Tolkien's Orc character Shagrat. Guitarist Erkekjetter Silenoz (Sven Atle Kopperud) was previously a member of NOCTURNAL BREED, going under the stage name of Ed Dominator. Other early band ventures for Silenoz included MALEFIC, RAGNAROK and STARKNESS. His pseudonym combined a demon named in C.S. Lewis' 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe', Silenoz, with the Norwegian word for Heretic.

Drummer Tjodalv (a.k.a. Kenneth Åkesson) was also an active member of OLD MAN'S CHILD and KOSMOS RØST. This initial trio soon completed the line-up with the top hat wearing keyboard player Stian Aastad and bass player Pal Ivar (known as Brynjard Tristian, real name real name Ivar Tristan Lundsten).

Unlike the majority of their contemporaries, Dimmu Borgir never demoed. The only tracks committed to tape were rehearsal recordings for the band's own use. First product would be the three track 7" EP 'Inn I Evighetens Mørke' ("Into The Eternity Of Darkness") published in October 1994 on Necromantic Gallery Production. Only 1000 copies were pressed, in a colour sleeve, but a stream of monochrome jacketed bootlegs followed.

Their debut full length album, 'For All Tid' ("For All Time") engineered by Bård Norheim at Stovner Rockefabrikk, emerged on the notorious German No Colours label that December. Guest vocalists on 'For All Tid' included Aldragh (a.k.a. Draug Aldrahn) of DØDHEIMSGARD and Vicotnik (Yusuf Parvaz), also of DØDHEIMSGARD and VED BUENS ENDE.

DIMMU BORGIR had yet to perform live at this stage but took to the stage for the very first time on August 9th 1995 in Brohm. This rough and ready set witnessed both Shagrath and Silenoz sharing lead vocal responsibilities along with a guesting Aldragh.

Contracting with London based Cacophonous Records, DIMMU BORGIR then weighed in with the self-produced January 1996 'Stormblåst' ("Storm Wind") opus, their final artistic output delivered in Norwegian tongue, clad in cover art executed by Alexander Kurtagic from the band DEINONYCHUS. Some degree of controversy came the band's way though when it was revealed the track 'Sorgens Kammer' had in fact been lifted from the 'Agony' Amiga game theme. To add to their woes, Cacophonous mistakenly mixed up the track listing, misplacing 'Dødsferd' and 'Antikrist'. Nevertheless, 'Stormblåst' was held up by purists as the act's last true contribution to Black Metal. Although the band was already working with melancholic piano, keyboard vistas and even a penchant for waltz-timing, 'Stormblåst' still retained its rawness. This primitive styling would all but disappear on subsequent releases. A point of curiosity is that the band's photograph featured temporary bass player Tanja, although she did not perform on the record.

The band signed to Nuclear Blast Records, although had to replace bassist Tristan for the June issued 'Devil's Path' EP with TROLL and COVENANT man Nagash (Stian Thoresen). 'Devil's Path' was recorded without Stian Aarstad, the keyboard player undertaking his national military obligations at the time. Nagash had performed alongside Silenoz previously when the two musicians were in NOCTURNAL BREED, Nagash then billed as 'Rick Hellraiser'. Said EP, issued via Shagrath's own Hot Records imprint, featured two versions of the CELTIC FROST track 'Nocturnal Fear'. Nuclear Blast attained the rights to 'For All Tid', the 1997 re-issue being distinct from the No Colours version by adding two tracks from the 'Inn I Evighetens Mørke' sessions and colouring the original Gustav Doré line artwork. On the live front, the group briefly acquired the services of guitarist Jens Petter Sandvik.

The band toured Europe in 1997 alongside CRADLE OF FILTH, IN FLAMES and DISSECTION touring to promote the 'Enthrone Darkness Triumphant' album. The record, laid down in Abyss Studios in Sweden and produced by HYPOCRISY frontman Peter Tägtgren, distinguished itself in two important areas, firstly forgoing their native language for English and secondly for its dramatic increase in synthesizer content. The record closed with an unaccredited tune, 'Raabjørn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde'. Fans would be keen to point out that the more commercially orientated Nuclear Blast had refused to print the blasphemous lyrics of the track 'Tormentor Of Christian Souls' for fear of legal action.

Winter dates to close the year had the band sharing stages with a package bill of KREATOR, RICHTHOFEN and Brazilians KRISIUN. With the support of Nuclear Blast, DIMMU BORGIR were to find themselves thrust to the top of the Black Metal league as their album even broke into the national German charts at number 25. 'Enthrone Darkness Triumphant' also impacted on the chart listings in Austria, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway, and soon surpassed the 150,000 sales mark. Capitalising on this achievement, Nuclear Blast later issued a limited edition saw shaped picture disc.

Joining the band on guitar was the Australian Astennu (Jamie Stinson), a member of Nagash's side project CARPE TENEBRUM, and previous to that in his homeland LORD KAOS. Aarstad failed to turn up for a festival performance and the band pulled in AVERNUS, THERION and ANCIENT keyboard player Kimberly Goss for these shows. The American was announced as a permanent member shortly after. Aarstad would later emerge as a member of ENTHRAL releasing albums coincidentally enough on the Hot record label.

Touring saw Tjoldav, at home with a new born child, temporarily replaced by Aggressor (Carl Michael Eide) of ULVER and INFERNO infamy. Goss then opted out to create her own Power Metal act SINERGY. New man Mustis (Øyvind Johan Mustaparta), previously of VIDDER, took control of the keyboards in time for DIMMU BORGIR's appearance at the Dynamo Open Air festival in May 1998.

In true Black Metal tradition members of DIMMU BORGIR managed to get themselves into a few scrapes, which included Nagash being hospitalized after burning himself during a fire breathing routine and Silenoz punctured a car's tyre when a Volkswagen ran over his heavily spiked boots!

In more musical related matters, Shagrath was also to appear on his countrymen RAGNAROK's album 'Arising Realm' performing keyboards.

With the album still selling in Europe DIMMU BORGIR rounded off the year as guests to KREATOR on a batch of metal festival shows. This even included an impromptu acoustic performance at a Finnish rock club.

A stop gap mini-album, 'Godless Savage Garden', distributed in August 1998, maintained the group's name on the European and Scandinavian charts. 'Godless Savage Garden' included album outtakes, 'Hunnerkongens Sorgsvarte Ferd Over Steppene' and 'Raabjorn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde' being re-recorded from 'All For Tid', three live tracks and a rather surprising cover of ACCEPT's 'Metal Heart'.

DIMMU BORGIR's next album, March 1999's 'Spiritual Black Dimensions', again seeing Peter Tägtgren delegated production duties, broke the band into the mainstream with accelerated sales worldwide. Various members of the group continued to be prolific however and both Astennu and Nagash, together with CRADLE OF FILTH, MAYHEM and ARCTURUS members forged yet another project act, the ambitious Electro-Metal concept COVENANT.

DIMMU BORGIR toured Britain with sell out shows, support coming from DARK FUNERAL, DØDHEIMSGARD and EVENFALL. The band headed out on a US trek throughout September and October of 1999 bolstered by MONSTROSITY, SAMAEL and EPOCH OF UNLIGHT.

In a surprise move the high profile Nick Barker from the British Black Metal band CRADLE OF FILTH, probably DIMMU BORGIR's only real competitors at the time in terms of sales, was poached to join the band. Tjovald meantime rejoined his former colleagues in OLD MAN'S CHILD for their 'Revelation 666' album before creating a band project SUSPERIA with his OLD MAN'S CHILD colleagues guitarist Cyrus and bassist Memnock in 2000. Mustis would also session on the debut SUSPERIA album.

Nagash's main side act COVENANT adopted the new title of THE KOVENANT for their 2000 album 'Animatronic' and Nagash himself was renamed Lex Icon. Nagash left DIMMU BORGIR to concentrate on THE KOVENANT and the band drafted BORKNAGER / ex-ARCTURUS bassist Simen Hestnæs, as ICS Vortex, as replacement.

DIMMU BORGIR dispensed with Astennu in mid 2000 replacing him swiftly with Archon (Lars Haider) from ENSLAVEMENT OF BEAUTY. This alliance was brief in the extreme though as within weeks it was announced that OLD MAN'S CHILD driving force Galder (Thomas Rune Andersen) had taken the position. DIMMU BORGIR's grip on Hestnæs tightened as he decamped permanently from BORKNAGER resulting in his former act having to cancel their European tour.

Barker also spread his talents to the highly successful LOCK UP collaboration with HYPOCRISY's Peter Tägtgren, NAPALM DEATH's Shane Embury and Jesse Pintado. He also figured anonymously with 'Mexican' Death Metal band BRUJERIA for their 'Brujerizmo' album.

Promoting their 2001 album 'Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia', co-produced by the band and Fredrik Nordström at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, DIMMU BORGIR toured the European circuit heading a strong bill bolstered by IN FLAMES, SUSPERIA, NEVERMORE and LACUNA COIL. KING DIAMOND guitarist Andy LaRocque would guest on the album performing on the Japanese bonus track 'Devil's Path'. Other notable contributors were fourteen members of the string section from the Gothenburg Orchestra.

American dates in April 2001, billed as the 'Spring Neck Break' tour, had DIMMU BORGIR headlining above running mates CANNIBAL CORPSE, THE HAUNTED and LAMB OF GOD. September saw renewed live action in the States and Canada as the band signed up for the mammoth 'Metallennium '01' touring festival package.

In November quick off the mark fans would be treated with a live mini-album 'Alive In Torment'. Produced by HYPOCRISY's mainman Peter Tägtgren the album was only made available by mail order. A further stop gap release surfaced the following year, the mini album 'World Misanthropy' comprising Japanese bonus tracks plus four live recordings from the 'Wacken Open Air' festival. The Hammerheart label would re-issue the archive 'Devil's Path' EP material as a split album 'The Sons Of Satan Gather For Attack' in alliance with OLD MAN'S CHILD.

In August of 2003 Nick Barker stood in as session drummer for NIGHTRAGE's debut gig at the 'Göteborgs Kalaset' festival in Sweden. News of a brand new full blown DIMMU BORGIR album for September, entitled 'Death Cult Armageddon', came with the disclosure the band had also cut a version of BATHORY's 'Satan My Master' during the same sessions. Japanese variants, released by Pony Canyon, added orchestral versions of 'Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse' and 'Eradication Instincts Defined' embellished by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Abbath of IMMORTAL would guest on album tracks 'Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse' and 'Heavenly Perverse'.

'Death Cult Armageddon' would debut impressively at no. 2 on the national Norwegian album charts, beating even IRON MAIDEN down a place. The album even gave DIMMU BORGIR their first ever showing on the Billboard album charts, breaking in at number 169 with just shy of 7,000 sales in its first week. The band was set to partner with ZYKLON and GOATWHORE for proposed Japanese gigs in January 2004 but these shows would be cancelled. Shortly after the band issued a press statement revealing that drummer Nick Barker had been "removed". Reported as being pulled in as a temporary replacement would be Asgeir Mickelson of BORKNAGAR, LUNARIS, TESTAMENT, ANESTHESIA and SPIRAL ARCHITECT repute. However, upon issue of this statement the drummer's manager refuted the assertion. The band would see 'Death Cult Armageddon' honoured with a Spellemannsprisen award, the Norwegian equivelent of a Grammy, in the 'Metal' category.

DIMMU BORGIR would be confirmed for the mammoth US 'Ozzfest' festivals that summer, featuring on a billing with BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST, SLAYER, SLIPKNOT and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. Meantime, ex-DIMMU BORGIR man Astennu would act as producer for Australian Metalcore band STRONGER THAN HATE's debut 2004 album 'Between Day And Darkness', joining the band shortly after. Toward the close of March Dane Reno Kiilerich, citing credits with FROZEN SUN, EXMORTEM, KOBEAST, 12 GAUGE, PANZERCHRIST, VILE, STRANGLER and HUMAN ERUPT, was confirmed as DIMMU BORGIR's new session drummer. However, drummer Tony Laureano joined the band on a session basis for the duration of their 'Ozzfest' dates as Kiilerich had been unable to obtain a U.S. work visa. Tony Laureano's pedigree on the extreme US Metal scene included terms of duty with ACHERON, MALEVOLENT CREATION, NILE, ANGEL CORPSE and AURORA BORALIS. Unfortunately, general media opinion would determine that the band struggled in the full glare of daylight on their midday billing. Nevertheless, the band continued to gain publicity and exposure from the event when the track 'Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse' was used as the main theme tune for the MTV television series 'Battle For Ozzfest'.

In January of 2005 Simen Hestnæs rejoined ARCTURUS as their new frontman. New DIMMU BORGIR album recordings would see the notorious Hellhammer (a.k.a. Jan Axel Blomberg) of MAYHEM installed on drums whilst ousted session sticksman Reno Kiilerich laid down drums on a new album for OLD MAN'S CHILD. Shagrath put in a guest vocal appearance on German Thrash act DESTRUCTION's 'Inventor Of Evil' album.

The band announced its intention to completely re-record second album 'Stormblåst'. Meantime, ex-DIMMU BORGIR guitarist Aggressor got himself into the news in somewhat bizarre circumstances when he plummeted from a five-story building in Oslo on 26th March 2005. Severely injured, the musician underwent two major operations immediately after the event.

In June DIMMU BORGIR announced they were only to perform five concert appearances that year, at the 'Waldrock' festival in Holland, the 'Fury Fest' in France, 'Tuska' in Finland, 'Zillo' in Germany and the Swedish 'Gates Of Metal' event. Former NILE man Tony Laureano would deputise on drums once again with MAYHEM's Hellhammer scheduled for future studio recordings. Shortly afterward, Laureano engaged with musicians from SPIRAL ARCHITECT, SATYRICON and LUNARIS to record tracks for a new "savagely innovative" Black Metal project.

Band members also occupied themselves with a slew of side projects, Shagrath featuring in the "Nekro Doomsday Rock 'n Roll" project CHROME DIVISION, whose motto is "Booze, Broads & Belsebub", in union with Lex Icon from THE KOVENANT, Björn Luna of ASHES TO ASHES, Eddie Guz of THE CARBURETORS, and Ricky Black. Meantime, Silenoz and Laureano worked in collaboration with Jardar of OLD MAN'S CHILD in "Dark Death Metal" band INSIDIOUS DISEASE, Galder with a new OLD MAN'S CHILD album and Vortex with ARCTURUS. ICS Vortex contributed on two tracks to an album from Marseille based Metalcore band DAGOBA. Tony Laureano temporarily joined up with Metalcore band THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER for dates in Japan and South Korea.

A November 2005 re-issue of the 1996 'Stormblåst' album through Nuclear Blast added five live DVD tracks recorded at the 'Ozzfest' festivals. With band members all pursuing outside projects, DIMMU BORGIR turned down an offer to support KORN in Scandinavia. In January 2006 it was learned that the 2003 released 'Death Cult Armageddon' album had sold more than 100,000 copies in the USA, the first Nuclear Blast release to pass this marker.

DIMMU BORGIR withdrew from a scheduled June showing at the Italian 'Gods Of Metal' festival apparently "due to serious health reasons". The band entered Studio Fredman in Gothenburg with producer Fredrik Nordström in October to cut a new album dubbed 'In Sorte Diaboli'. The band wrapped up these sessions in mid November. Hestnæs enrolled as frontman for CODE in January 2007.

DIMMU BORGIR embarked on a European headlining tour in October and November 2007 dubbed 'The Invaluable Darkness Tour 2007', this trek featuring Sweden's AMON AMARTH in the direct support slot.

In February 2008 LAMB OF GOD paired with DIMMU BORGIR and FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH for the UK 'Defenders Of The Faith II' tour.

Garry Sharpe-Young

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