Named after an Icelandic lava flow, the members of Dimmu Borgir, using the names Shagrath (drums/vocals), Erkekjetter Silenoz (guitar/vocals) and Tjodalv (guitar) set about to merge good ole Wagner style classical music with good ole fashioned Black Metal music. Independently releasing their debut EP Inn I Evighetens (Into The Eternity Of Darkness; 1994), the record promptly sold out, encouraging the hasty release of their debut album For All Tid (1995) on the No Colors' label with newly recruited members Brynjard Tristan (bass) and Stian Aarstad (synth./piano/effects). Both albums were only released in Norway. At this point there was a band shuffle in the works with Shagrath and Tjodalv swapping instruments, and with Silenoz still a member they added Nagash (ex-Kovenant/ex-Troll) joining on bass. But Stian was gone for a stint in the army and wouldn't return until late 1996. The mini Devil's Path was released in early 1996 on Hot', a label Shagrath was employed with at the time. The move also lead to their albums being released in English, a move intended to give them more of an international appeal but Shagrath's gargling vocals remained unintelligible all the same. Stormblast, also released that same year on the Cacophonous' label was much in the same style of its predecessor, years later the band would claim over the internet that it was one of the most important albums in the history of Black Metal but the jury has never returned a verdict on the subject and probably won't in an effort to be political on the matter.
Australian ex-Lord Kaos guitarist Astennu replaced the once-again departing Stian for their Enthrone Darkness Triumphant (1997) release, an album that featured the Tormentor Of Christian Souls, a track whose lyrics were deliberately omitted in the CD booklet by the request of their new label Nuclear Blast' to avoid controversy. The lyrics were available by writing to the band directly. Many in the underground press cited the album as the best Black Metal of the century, a clear attempt at hyperbole since no Black Metal existed before 1980! It was yet another example of how an arguably good act was destined to become a caricature of itself by the over-indulgent press.
Shagrath would now assume only the vocals duties for the follow-up set Godless Savage Garden (1998), an album that came and went in much the same style of its predecessor. The album was released during a time of membership upheaval, as was Spiritual Black Dimensions (1999) that saw Mustis take over the piano and synth. and ICS Vortex (Real Name: Simen Hestnaes;ex-Old Man's Child/ex-Borknagar) replaced Nagash on bass, Nick Barker (ex-Cradle Of Filth) replaced Tjodalv who left to join Seven Sins, and Galder (a.k.a. Grusom;ex-Old Man's Child) replaced Astennu so he could join Carpe Tenebrum.
In 1999 the act participated in a split album with Old Man's Child titled Sons Of Satan Gather For Attack while their truly dastardly evil deeds were reserved for their own Puritanical Euphoric Misanthopy (2000), an album that thrashed and flared in all the right places with plenty of evil blasphemy growled forth. The album even featured the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, following the trend of including classical music in Metal that was popular at the turn of the century.
In 2003, Dimmu Borgir recorded Death Cult Armageddon. Death Cult Armageddon was recorded with the Prague Philarmonic Orchestra, conducted by Adam Klemens.
Dimmu Borgir's eighth studio album, In Sorte Diaboli, was released in April 2007. A special edition version was released in a boxed case with a DVD, backward-printed lyrics, and a mirror. The album artwork was released on 14 February 2007 on a promotional webpage for the album. This album features once more the drumming of Hellhammer of Mayhem. Blomberg left the band in mid-tour in 2007 because of a neck injury that resulted in limited movement of his right arm. With the release of this album, Dimmu Borgir became the first black metal band with a number one album in their native country.
In 2009, members ICS Vortex and Mustis independently announced their departure from Dimmu Borgir. Mustis released a statement claiming his disfavor with the band, that he was not properly credited for his writing contributions to the band's music.
Dimmu Borgir's ninth studio album, Abrahadabra, was released September 2010. A promotional image released with the statement showed Shagrath returning to the keyboards. The album features an ensemble orchestra, the Kringkastingsorkestret (the Norwegian Radio Orchestra), as well as the Schola Cantorum choir, totaling more than 100 musicians and singers.
May 2011 saw Dimmu Borgir, for the very first time in the band's career, perform live with a full symphony orchestra and choir in a one-off show with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Schola Cantorum Choir (who collaborated on Abrahadabra the previous year) at the Oslo Spectrum entitled Forces of the Northern Night. This was broadcast live on Norway's main national TV carrier NRK. The band played a similar show the following year at the Wacken Open Air festival, having yet performed a second live show with a symphony orchestra and choir. This time, they were accompanied by the Czech National Orchestra with the same choir, being the second band in the festival's history to play with a live orchestra and choir. The show was broadcast live on Germany's Kultur TV arts channel.
Probably overrated musically and never charting, Dimmu Borger are nonetheless an interesting and creative example of the Black Metal style worthy of note in history. Their live performances have traditionally been second to none, however. In 2007 their Death Cult Armageddon release would arrive featuring the membership of: Shagrath (vocals), Galder (guitar), Silenoz (guitar), Vortex (bass), and Mustis (keyboards).