Heavy music is full of legendary bands boasting deep catalogs stacked with iconic songs — sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, or what to consider their best. With that in mind, we present the “Mandatory Metal” lists, which collect what we consider to be the definitive tracks from various members of the metallurgic pantheon. Up today, Dimmu Borgir, the Norwegian symphonic black-metal juggernaut that has done much to both popularize and, the haters would say, commercialize the style, taking it to Ozzfest stages and beyond. Dimmu have a stacked catalog packed with must-hear songs, but in our opinion, these classic cuts are their most essential. If you disagree, sound off on The Pit Facebook page.
“Alt Lys Er Svunnet Hen”
An instrumental blitzkrieg rife with corpse-painted grimness (and all Norwegian lyrics), this tune became truly epic when Dimmu rerecorded it in 2005.
Sample lyric: “Brisen fører oss over norske myrer/Forbi hver en tåkegrend/Med hatet i våre harme sinn/Reiser vi for aldri å komme igjen.”
“In Death’s Embrace”
Album: Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
Triumphant delivered an album’s worth of dazzling, keyboard- and guitar-driven odes to the Horned One, this being arguably the finest example.
Sample lyric: “The heavenly father is stretching his hand/Pathetically begging for mercy/We spit and piss on his sacred flesh/As we breathe the breath of the unholy.”
“The Insight and the Catharsis”
Spiritual Black Dimensions
The critical punching bag of Dimmu albums, Dimensions hides some killer moments—including this track, whose violent emotional arcs and freezer-burned atmospherics rank it among the band’s creepiest efforts.
Sample lyric: “Oh, dreadful angel of mine/Enrich me with the vastness of your being.”
“Blessings Upon the Throne of Tyranny”
Album: Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia
A galloping percussive onslaught (thanks to then-new, since-departed drummer Nick Barker, ex–Cradle of Filth) tempered by a live orchestra, “Blessings” sets up the grand symphonic peaks the sextet would reach with its next CD, Death Cult Armageddon.
Sample lyric: “With the ignorance from your cross as the witness/The truth of your tragedy make you justice.”
“Progenies of the Great Apocalypse”
Album: Death Cult Armageddon
Dimmu’s best-known song, and for good reason: “Progenies” sounds inspired and hungry, with the band piling on every great riff, vocal styling, string arrangement, and keyboard solo in their arsenal.
Sample lyric: “Zero tolerance must be issued forth/Behind the enemy’s line.”