Dimmu Borgir: how we made Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia


In the new issue of Metal Hammer magazine, we celebrate 50 years of metal. As part of this, we spoke to the people behind some of the greatest albums of the last half century. 

One of these people is Dimmu Borgir guitarist Silenoz. The Norwegians’ 2001 album Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia set a new benchmark in symphonic black metal. Here, Silenoz looks back on the point where Dimmu went from cult heroes to global superstars…

How do you look back on Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia nearly 20 years later?

“It’s hard to tell, because I’m so close to our music. It’s definitely one of our stronger records, and it was a monumental point in our career. It set the foundations for the years that followed. It put us on the map.”

Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia took symphonic black metal to another level. Did you feel like you could do anything at that point?

“Yeah, I think so. We’ve always been a band that have never asked for permission to do whatever we want to do. As an artist, it’s very important to think outside the box, to not have any limits – just go with the flow.”

Were you listening to other black metal bands at the time?

“Not really. We were still listening to thrash and death metal. But we were listening to a lot of soundtracks, too. Even pop music.”

Pop music?

“Ha! Actually, maybe you shouldn’t print that. But that’ssomething that a lot of people don’t really understand. OK, we play a certain style of music, but we don’t listen to that much of it ourselves. We definitely had wider tastes in music.”

Nu metal was the big thing at the time. Were any of those bands on your radar at all?

“Not really. We were playing festivals with some of those so-called nu metal bands, but that was something we didn’t pay attention to. I suppose Slipknot were on our radar because they had something really different. I’m not the biggest Slipknot fan musically, but they were taking metal more into the mainstream and helped open doors for bands like us and even more aggressive bands. They did a lot for the genre, for sure.”

Cradle Of Filth were your big rivals at the time. There seemed to be tension between the bands. Was there?

“No, I don’t think so. We toured with them in 1997, so we knew them fairly well. If there was a rivalry, it was us taking the piss out of each other. Maybe it had something to do with us acquiring [ex-Cradle drummer] Nick Barker. From the outside, it might have looked like there was some rivalry.”

Some people think Dimmu Borgir ruined black metal with Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. How do you plead: guilty or not guilty?

“I understand it from one point of view – it’s like when a footballer changes team, he’s suddenly a Judas. People feel so close to certain bands, or even lifestyles. They want the band for themselves, just like they want the footballer for their team. That comes usually from people who don’t look upon us as black metal, yet they say we ruined black metal. It’s an oxymoron.”

What the hell does Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia actually mean?

“Ha ha ha! You can put a lot of stuff into that title. For us, it’s supposed to describe humanity: you have puritanical, in the religious sense. And then religious people depend on euphoria to survive. And what they create in the end is misanthropy. That’s how I look at it. But it’s definitely a long title. Maybe too long.” 

Metal Hammer 50 Years Of Metal

The new issue of Metal Hammer, celebrating 50 years of metal, is onsale now. As well as the full list of the 50 Greatest Metal Albums Ever as picked by metal's greatest names, it features brand new interviews with Tony Iommi, The Fever333, Gojira and more. And if that wasn't enough, it also comes with a free double-sided Iron Maiden poster and free Metallica beer mats. How cool is that? Order your copy here.

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.