Album review: Dimmu Borgir – Inspiratio Profanus

Norwegian symphonic black metal legends Dimmu Borgir celebrate 30 years with a thrillingly rough-edged tribute to their infernal heroes.

Album review: Dimmu Borgir – Inspiratio Profanus
Sam Law

It’d be easy to be cynical about Inspiratio Profanus. More than half a decade since celebrating their quarter-century with last album proper – 2018’s excellent Eonian – legendary Norwegians Dimmu Borgir honour 30 years not with any new music, but rather an eight-track compilation of their most renowned cover versions. The thing is, every one of those tracks is a Satan-certified banger.

Where the Jessheim crew’s signature brand of symphonic black metal has grown increasingly grandiose, ever more theatrically overblown over the years, everything here feels gleefully lean and mean. Their version of Venom’s Black Metal, for instance – a song that every band in the genre must surely have a swing at at some point – rips with the same ravenousness, but more muscle than the original. They blast through Bathory’s Satan My Master with unhinged abandon. And the two versions of Celtic Frost’s Nocturnal Fear on offer are delivered with flesh-ripping reverence.

It’s their takes on classics from other genres that really catch the ear, though. A synth-laden rework of Dead Men Don’t Rape from Californian industrial legends G.G.F.H., for instance, offers a whole different flavour of darkness, and perspective on what Dimmu’s sound would become. Twisted Sister’s Burn In Hell veers into classic doom territory before they punch the accelerator once again. The murmuring organs and staccato operatics of Deep Purple’s 1984 classic Perfect Strangers ensure it remains oddly recognisable. But it’s their show-stealing take on Accept anthem Metal Heart that’ll ring longest in the memory: all face-melting six-strings and fist-thrusting fervour.

Of course, hardcore fans will doubtless have most, if not all, of these deep cuts tucked into their collection already. But it’s still a hell of a way to celebrate a big birthday for one of heavy metal’s corpse-painted best.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Venom, Celtic Frost, Accept

Inspiratio Profanus is out now via Nuclear Blast

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