The 2011 Arsies: January 11, 2011

January 11, 2011

Today's grudge match pits two Norwegian acts against each other: Dimmu Borgir and Enslaved. Let's get right to the action!
Dimmu Borgir's seventy-fifth album, "Abrahadabra," certainly win's this year's prize for Most Musicians On One Album (if you count the full orchestra and choir). Unlike other albums this year that passionately compete for epic bragging rights, this one is also just fun. Just when things start getting too dramatic for their own good, the band drops into a chunk of straight-up heaviness, as if to keep you on your toes.
Enslaved's "Axioma Ethica Odini" on the other hand is just as massive an album. While it's a bit of a simplification away from its more proggy predecessor "Vertebrae," there's still plenty here to engage the most serious Opeth fan, and the reduction works for the band. Dark and surprising, the album nevertheless plods along with mature and relentless certainty. And that's ultimately its Achilles' heel; it's a bit too polished and restrained. You know what one word I wouldn't use with Enslaved's record? 'Energetic.' If there were a magic formula that combined high production values and enthusiastic energy, Dimmu's got a better handle on it. Enslaved is definitely still a worthy contender, and if you haven't given it a listen, you should. But Dimmu Borgir bests it and goes on to the Round Of 16.
Tomorrow, old-school thrash competes against old-school... technometal? Yup, that can only mean: Exodus versus Fear Factory.

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