You know, I’ve always believed in the simple philosophy of thinking for oneself, but I have to admit to letting the narrowmindedness of others occasionally blind my path. Take for example the music of Dimmu Borgir. I’ve been plunging pretty deeply into the bleak nihilistic darkness of Norway’s most evil black metal maestros for the last several years now, and up until recently, I had honestly not heard ONE SINGLE NOTE of these guys’ music. Why? Because if you listen to the average rantings of the supposed “true” black metal consumer, Dimmu Borgir are the post-’91 Metallica of the scene. “They’re overproduced”, “they went Cradle of Filth”, “they sold out”, “they’re too keyboard-driven”, yada yada yada… And guess what? I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.Well, about two months ago, I was looking for something new and FINALLY decided to risk the cost of a CD on ‘Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia’. Today, as I write this with “Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny” blasting away in the background, I’m eating crow with a huge evil grin on my face and washing it down with 24 year old Scotch. This is far and away one of the best metal albums I’ve heard in YEARS. How anyone could listen to this and NOT love it has me utterly bewildered.Okay, so maybe they don’t fit into the way-too-conservative category of “true” Norwegian black metal. Indeed, it IS a bit difficult to categorize them at all. You’ve got the melodic keyboards of Emperor, the theatrics of CoF (see the band members’ photos in the enclosed booklet, the one of Galder being particularly amusing…heh heh), the mid-paced overdrive of In Flames and early Entombed, and the classic punch of old school metal with more than a few blastbeats thrown in to keep things lively. But if I had to compare them to any one band – and this is REALLY gonna floor you – it would have to be QUEEN. The way Dimmu Borgir craft each and every song into a dramatic little opera that completely defies any kind of confined category (and I should add that I STILL consider it to be “black metal”) makes me think of the magic that once poured from the minds of the late Freddie Mercury and Brian May…they realized that nothing instrumentally or stylistically should be barred from their imagination, and this comparison is probably the highest possible compliment I can give them.And then there’s the production. While there are certainly times when an overly clean production is not the best approach to take (see my review of Emperor’s ‘Prometheus’), I for one appreciate it when a band goes to the time and trouble (not to mention the expense) of presenting their material in a way that I can clearly hear EVERY instrument without losing one iota of the music’s overall feel and heaviness. Folks, if you’ve spent mega-bucks on a true audiophile system, be prepared to have it tested. And you know how clean vocals most often come off sounding laughable when a black metal singer who normally troll-screeches tries to do them? Well, even Shagrath knows his limitations, and so bassist Vortex does them. And exceedingly well, I should add…he actually reminds me of the singer from Yes, if you can believe that..?!I’m not going to waste any more space going into the individual songs here, as other longtime fans have done so already, other than to say that every song on here is simply amazing, with my particular favorites being “Kings of the Carnival Creation”, “The Maelstrom Mephisto” and the aforementioned “Blessings…”, ESPECIALLY coming on the heels of the beautiful and haunting opening instrumental, “Fear and Wonder”…aww, man…After buying this CD, I’ve since picked up ‘Death Cult Armageddon’, ‘Enthrone Darkness Triumphant’, and the awesome ‘World Misanthropy’ DVD, and I won’t be stopping there. To all the believers, congratulations on teaching an old dog some new tricks. And to all the “truist” naysayers, may I simply suggest that you GROW UP.