Second re-release of the third EP by legendary Norwegian Symphonic Black Metal band.
After three consecutive excellent albums, one wonders what happened to Dimmu Borgir during that mid-era crisis that is most visible when looking at the utter incoherence of the whole of "Spiritual Black Dimensions" and the latter half of "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia". Released right before that first crisis album ("Spiritual Black Dimensions"), "Godless Savage Garden" doesn’t provide much of an answer: it’s basically just as good as everything that came before it. It contains three live tracks (five in re-release 2006!), two re-recorded songs from the debut album "For All Tid", one cover song, and two never-before-released studio songs.
In terms of new tracks, "Moonchild Domain" opens up the EP with the usual Dimmu Borgir signature sound of streamlined Black Metal with a massive infusion of keyboards. This is basically the classic old-school Dimmu Borgir line-up, with the notable curiosity that Shagrath handles the keyboards here. His work is however exemplary, creating that epic atmosphere so inseparable from the early Dimmu Borgir sound. The guitar work on this particular song is great, with a technically impressive and long solo near the end, while Shagrath performs some amazingly good vocals. "Chaos Without Prophecy", the longest track at over 7 minutes, is similar in terms of quality except perhaps a bit slower in terms of tempo. Another high-quality solo is inserted in the middle of the song, and the entire effort comes off as being sincere and impressive considering the band’s next few years of strangeness.
Two re-recorded tracks from "For All Tid" demonstrate the earlier Dimmu Borgir sound as a more contrasted mix of real Black Metal and more classical-sounding keyboards, made to resemble piano playing as much as possible. The main difference here, of course, is the vastly cleaner production job done. While the effort might indeed have removed a small part of the original versions’ authenticity, the new versions are pulled off with remarkable skill and they essentially remain true to what they were. Of particular note here is the classic melodic track "Raabjørn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde", likely the best track off the debut and an instant highlight both there and here.
Speaking of highlights, the next one is just around the corner: the extremely well chosen cover of Accept’s "Metal Heart". While it might not have the original’s classic atmosphere, mad soaring chorus or general badass sound, this cover is a great song in its own right. The first thing one notices is that the aforementioned original atmosphere was replaced by a modern Dimmu Borgir high production-value sound, while the entire song has been given a Black Metal casing. The chorus is well performed by Shagrath. The awesome leads and the solo during the song’s latter half are more audible here and their performance is excellent. Still, the cover is a worthy addition to the EP and a guaranteed highlight.
Finally comes the second half of this EP, consisting of the five live tracks. They’re of variable quality. The unrelenting highlight is definitely the rendition of the monumental "Stormblåst" title track. This live version is everything that such a track should be: without losing any of the original’s epic atmosphere or intricacy, the live setting renders the whole thing even more energetic and powerful, thanks in part to the production values. This is the kind of live album you want to hear and the kind of concert you want to see. The other four tracks are all taken from "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant" and great in terms of performance and atmosphere.
Looking back, this is one hell of an EP. "Godless Savage Garden" is the least bad in that category, since the idea makes sense, somewhat. In any case, this is truly a gem containing some of the best material that Dimmu Borgir ever recorded: it’s on par with the three preceding albums!!
This is the last release to feature former keyboardist Stian Aarstad and first to include guitarist Astennu.
Deluxe Edition re-release comes in pearl-grey jewel case and features two bonus tracks!
Nuclear Blast GmbH, 1998/2006 (NB 1719-2 / 27361 1719-2). Made in Germany.
1. Moonchild Domain 5:22
2. Hunnerkongens Sorgsvarte Ferd Over Steppene 3:04
3. Chaos Without Prophecy 7:09
4. Raabjorn Speiler Draugheimens Skodde 5:05
5. Metal Heart 4:37
6. Stormblast 5:09
7. Master Of Disharmony 4:27
8. In Death's Embrace 6:15
9. Spellbound (By The Devil) 4:45
10. Mourning Palace 5:57
Total playing time: 51:50