Dimmu Borgir – Cleveland Agora, 4/20/07

This was an exciting concert to get tickets for in that it was on 4/20/07 (a rather nefarious day to attend ANY live event) and it was the North American debut for this tour. Unfortunately, the fact that this was the first show on the tour became painfully obvious throughout the night, but more on that in a bit.

The bill consisted of Kataklysm, DevilDriver, Unearth and Dimmu Borgir. Doors opened at 7:30pm and as I had a 2 1/2 hour drive to get to Cleveland (and massive amounts of traffic and construction), I didn’t arrive until about 8:10. I expected to see Kataklysm on the stage ripping it up, but instead found that they’d already played and we were awaiting DevilDriver. This was disappointing to say the least but what can you do. From what I hear, Kataklysm did very well and converted many fans that evening. Sorry to see that I didn’t get to witness J-F Dagenais playing his custom Washburn ‘Heartbeast’ in person.

Next up, DevilDriver pounced on the audience and blasted their way thru a shorter set. I’ve seen DevilDriver before and they never fail to impress. The crowd reacted slowly, but Dez (lead vocals) is not one to suffer a lazy audience and motivated them into a thrashing horde, much as he is known for doing. In fact, DevilDriver reportedly once held the world record for largest pit but I don’t honestly know if this is still the case.

As mentioned above about ‘First show on the tour’ troubles, there seemed some internal confusion with the band on their exact setlist which resulted in a brief delay while they seemed to be deciding what came next. Eventually, they moved forward with Dez commenting that ‘the song’ had been dropped. . . whatever ‘the song’ was. Still, DevilDriver did what they do best – played like all hell and taking no prisoners in the process. Call us be-DEVILED.

After DevilDriver, the mighty Unearth took the stage. I recently saw Unearth open for Slayer, but didn’t recall them being this much fun live. A tight band, their brutal assault on the ears was as pleasing as was watching guitarists Buzz Mcgrath and Ken Susi jumping from the amps while their blistering fretwork bombarded us. How the hell they can do that is still beyond me, although a few times there was some slippage. Imagine if they’d had more brewskis how bad things could’ve gotten!

Finally, Dimmu took the stage – opening with ‘Progenies of the Great Apocalypse’ which was a surprising choice for opening number. Despite a new sound man and an amazingly horrible mix, Shagrath and co. played well and enthusiastically. Hell, Galder even smiled. . . surely the first sign of the impending Apocalypse!

The setlist that followed included ‘Vredesbyrd’, ‘Cataclysm Children’, ‘Kings of Carnival Creation’, ‘Sorgens Kammer Del II’, ‘Indoctrination’, ‘A Succubus in Rapture’, ‘The Serpentine Offering’ & ‘The Chosen Legacy’ (both off the new cd), ‘The Insight and the Catharsis’, ‘Spellbound by the Devil’ and they closed with the ever popular ‘Mourning Palace’. Sadly (for me, at least), no ‘In Death’s Embrace’, my absolute favorite Dimmu song. On the positive side, we were also treated to a brief drum solo by black metal skinbasher extraordinaire Hellhammer – man, can that guy double-pedal!! Truly amazing.

As with Devildriver before them, there were occasions where it was clear that sound problems and other issues were plaguing the band, but like professionals they forged ahead and it was barely a distraction from the show. All in all, it was WELL worth the trip to Cleveland (and probable eternal damnation) as each band gave it their all. See this tour when it comes to your area, and then maybe see a priest!

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