Breaking into the big-time around the same time Cradle of Filth made symphonic black metal popular with mainstream metal fans, this album is naturally a target of hatred for the community of metal nerds. While it's certainly a disappointment compared to the high quality of their earlier melodic black metal releases, it's a vast improvement over the frankly unlistenable 'Spiritual Black Dimensions.'
The songs at least stand out here individually, even though the old problems still remain. Keyboard player Mustis is still granted too much dominance and fails to back it up with talent or creativity, and the addition of drummer Nicholas Barker (ex-Cradle of Filth) adds some much-needed talent, but unfortunately comes a cropper thanks to the ridiculous overproduction that places him too prominently in the mix. The high-budget use of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra also adds a nice soundtrack feel to parts of the album, particularly the symphonic opener 'Fear and Wonder,' but it's a shame that this ends up being one of the few truly worthwhile songs here.
Dimmu Borgir has evolved from an atmospheric, historical black metal band into one that sounds disappointingly robotic and artificial, and this spoils the effect of almost every song. The notable exception is 'Puritania,' which abandons all pretensions to black metal and is content to be an effectively vile industrial number.
1. Fear and Wonder
2. Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny
3. Kings of the Carnival Creation
4. Hybrid Stigmata - The Apostasy
5. Architecture of a Genocidal Nature
8. The Maelstorm Mephisto
9. Absolute Sole Right
11. Perfection or Vanity
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Fear and wonder
2 Blessings Upon The Throne Of Tyranny
3 Kings Of The Carnival Creation
4 Hybrid Stigmata - The Apostasy
5 Architecure Of a Genocidal Nature
8 The Maelstrom Mephisto
9 Absolute Sole Right
11 Perfection or Vanity