In league with the devil

Dimmu Borgir preach the gospel of black metal

As foreboding as the jagged spires of volcanic rock that bear their name symphonic black metal juggernaut Dimmu Borgir make an indelible impression on those who come to behold them. Translated as “dark cities” or “black castles” in the Old Norse-Icelandic language the twisted peaks and hellish valleys of this otherworldly geomorphic landscape are the perfect metaphor for a band that prides themselves on their Norwegian heritage even as they rebel against everything their compatriots hold sacred. With nine full-length studio albums and just as many singles and EPs to their credit they were the first black-metal band to have a No. 1 album in their homeland.

“It’s weird but cool” says founding guitarist Silenoz a.k.a. Sven Atle Kopperud of their hard-won success. “It’s something that even I wouldn’t think could happen 10 years ago. We are very grateful to do what we do and to be able to make the life we want for ourselves. I think it’s important that we continue to expand as a metal band in an honest and natural way. We’ve never compromised. We have our own ideas and we won’t be pushed around by any label. We’re just too stubborn for that!”

Honesty and the discovery of one’s true nature is the theme that pervades Dimmu Borgir’s most recent studio effort 2007’s In Sorte Diaboli (which means “in league with the devil”). Chiefly a concept-driven album In Sorte Diaboli tells the foreboding tale of a devout Christian acolyte who traces his bloodlines to Satan ultimately leading him to reject the church. Not a topic to be taken lightly especially in the band’s native country of Norway where the population is 95 per cent Lutheran. Silenoz and his fellow Dimmu Borgir members haven’t been shy about voicing their convictions when it comes to their preference for Satanism and are delightfully quick to use the H word when referring to what they see as an unwanted and invading influence.

“Looking back I can see that there is actually a lot of personal stuff in [ In Sorte Diaboli’s] lyrics but I didn’t realize it until after the whole thing had been written” Silenoz says. “It brings me back to my childhood growing up in the Bible Belt. Those early experiences certainly sparked my hatred towards organized religion. We believe that it’s important to get to the bottom of things; to ask the extremely critical questions. We’re not like some Muslim or Christian who goes by ‘the book.’ The answers aren’t in any book. It’s not that simple. People ask us why we hate the church and it’s so much harder to explain to someone who’s from outside Norway. Basically it goes back to having Christianity thrown down our throats a thousand years ago. It’s always in the back of our heads how our people were treated. Like all the conflicts in the world it can be traced directly back to religion. As long as there is religion in the world there will be no peace. ”