Interview: Dimmu Borgir’s Silenoz talks about upcoming DVD, festivals and the “Blackest of the Black” tour

If there’s a fundamental truth about metal that detractors fail to grasp, it’s this: Metal can’t really be understood by listening to CDs or reading interviews in magazines (or blogs). The only place where metal is truly expressed is on-stage.

The live show is where a band must prove its performance skills. There’s no room for Britney-style lip-synching or piped-in music. In metal, a band must – must – be able to produce live. Bands that fall short of that challenge find themselves ripped mercilessly by crowd, which often expresses its disdain in a hail of thrown cups and bottles.

When it works, when the band rises to the task, the power of the live show is undeniable. The best metal shows rise to the level of ceremony, with the band playing the role of sonic priest, transmitting a larger-than-life power to the audience. A person who has never seen a live show can’t truly understand the power of metal, the way a blind man can’t appreciate autumn leaves.

When symphonic black metal titans Dimmu Borgir shattered 80,000 sets of ear drums at last year’s Wacken Open Air festival, they hired a full film crew to document the experience. The result is “The Invaluable Darkness,” an undeniable testament to the band’s ability to raise the spirit of hell and catch up the audience in the soundstorm.

Silenoz, one of the founding members of the band, said the Wacken performance was a pinnacle shows of the band’s career to date.

“That night in particular was pure magic,” Silenoz said, during a phone conversation to promote the DVD and the upcoming “Blackest of the Black” tour. “When you do festivals it’s hit or miss, because you don’t have a sound check. But that night everything went well: We played really well and the people were really into it

“It was horns for as far back as you could see,” Silenoz said. “People in the camp were throwing horns.”

Dimmu Borgir has spent a decade honing their craft, and the results are obvious on “The Invaluable Darkness.” While Emperor might have been the first band to blend classical music and black metal, Dimmu Borgir creates black metal symphonies that are equal parts beauty and bare-knuckled brute force.

“The Invaluable Darkness” also includes footage that was shot across Europe in late 2007, as the band toured in support of “In Sorte Diaboli.” With so much footage, Silenoz had the time-consuming and frustrating experience of helping decide which performances were good enough to be included on the double DVD set.

“You basically had to start with one show and go through it to see what songs had the right camera angles, and then go through the songs,” Silenoz said. Even if the video footage looked good, the more critical element was whether the actual performance met the band’s exceedingly high standards, Silenoz said.

“It’s the end result that counts,” Silenoz said of the hours of editing. “The people who have seen the end result really like it, and that’s all that matters to me.”

The band is hitting the road with Danzig this month, a co-headliner on the “Blackest of the Black” tour. Although Dimmu Borgir has done multiple tours since “In Sorte Diaboli” was released in the spring of 2007, Silenoz said he never tires of being on stage.

“When everyone is singing along, you can’t really describe it,” he said.

Guitarist Galder won’t be participating in the tour, as he’s busy back in Norway with the birth of his second child. Silenoz said Galder will be replaced – just for this tour, of course – with Suspiria guitarist Cyrus. Handling drums for the tour is Dariusz “Daray” Brzozowksi, who formerly pounded skins for metal legends Vader.

“(Galder) wanted to do the tour,” but when the new baby intervened, “he didn’t want us to cancel it,” Silenoz said.

“It’s just cool to be revisiting the old stuff with new personnel,” Silenoz said.

While Dimmu Borgir could easily spend a solid year on tour, the band tries to not to exhaust themselves with long stints on the road.

“We couldn’t have gone on tour for eight months straight,” Silenoz said. “You don’t want it to become a routine. You just get drained (on long tours), and it doesn’t help if you lose your motivation. I don’t want that to be something our fans ever witness.”

After “Blackest of the Black” concludes, the band will head back to Norway, and will begin working on a new album next year.

“I wouldn’t expect a release until early fall at the soonest,” he said.

When asked about the staying power of metal, Silenoz agreed that “either you get it, or you don’t.”

“Once you have it, it stays,” Silenoz said. “That’s what’s good about art and music.  Girlfriends come and go, but metal stays.”

Dimmu Borgir will play the Pageant in St. Louis on Oct. 26, as part of the “Blackest of the Black” tour. Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com

For a preview of “The Invaluable Darkness” DVD, visit the band’s MySpace page, www.myspace.com/dimmuborgir

Or, just watch the video for “The Chosen Legacy,” off “In Sorte Diaboli” here:

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