Sometimes it’s hard to draw the line between art inspired by other art and downright plagiarism.
In one of these instances of blurred lines, black metal stalwarts Dimmu Borgir found themselves entangled in a controversy involving the clandestine origins of one of their tracks.
The revelation? The haunting melody of “Sorgens Kammer” from their sophomore album Stormblåst was not a creation born from the brooding depths of despair and hatred. Instead, the song itself was lifted from the 1992 Amiga game, Agony.
A horizontal scrolling shooter with a surreal fantasy backdrop, the plot of Agony spun a somewhat nebulous tale centered around a sun-wizard named Acanthopsis, cosmic forces, and a disciple turned barn owl named Alestes.
The game’s title track, a classically themed piano piece composed by Tim Wright, brought an unusual sophistication to the action-packed genre realm.
For their part, Dimmu Borgir pleaded ignorance and laid the blame on their ex-keyboardist Stian Arstad, who supposedly orchestrated the musical indiscretion. A period of communication ensued between Wright and the black metal horde, leading to a decision that showcased a nod to artistic integrity — the band opted not to include the contentious track in a later re-recording of Stormblåst.
The intrigue deepened as it was revealed that Stian Arstad, the same keyboardist responsible for the Agony-inspired track, had also borrowed elements from Magnum’s “Sacred Hour” for the intro of “Alt Lys Er Svunnet Hen.”
When Dimmu Borgir revisited Stormblåst for a re-recording a decade later, they replaced the controversial intro to “Alt Lys Er Svunnet Hen” with a sample from the movie Constantine. Additionally, a new composition, “Sorgens Kammer II,” took the place of its contentious predecessor.
This saga, where the realms of black metal and gaming collided, highlighted not only the unexpected connections in the world of music but also the significance of crediting and acknowledging sources.
Dimmu Borgir’s journey through this labyrinth of musical borrowings underscored the complex interplay between inspiration, homage, and the ever-evolving landscape of artistic integrity.