At the close of the 1990s, a number of the older Norwegian black metal bands had started experimenting with programmed beats and other electronic sounds, among them Ulver, Arcturus, Mayhem, and (perhaps most aggressively) Dodheimsgard. The latter group's use of electronics, on this album at least, runs in a more industrial direction -- but "industrial" in the sense of such slick, modern metal acts as Marilyn Manson or even Rammstein. It is surprising to hear this turn, given Dodheimsgard's history as more of a raw black metal band. It's also surprising because of how the album starts, with a brief piano intro (reprised from the end of the group's Satanic Art EP) and then a bludgeoning, fuzzed-out blast beat; in this context, hearing a drum machine dance beat is downright weird. But whatever slick surfaces Dodheimsgard is dealing with here only magnify the inherent strangeness of the songs. Jarring transitions and unexpected tempo changes abound, with spiraling black metal guitar riffs often popping out of nowhere, then giving way to sedate solo piano sections or glossy techno-metal breakdowns. And throughout it all, vocalist Aldrahn presides over the ceremonies like a mad carnival barker, ranting, bellowing, hissing, and growling his way through puzzling, disconnected lyrics such as these from "Shiva-Interfere": "Directly from an ocean of flowers/Visual contact, planet B8 -- 18/Sonar disturbance/Asmodeus comes with terror/In spontaneous air corridors." Written over a period of four years, this is an elaborate, ambitious, and creative album that is bound to frustrate purists, but if the tag of "surrealist industrial black metal" is at all appealing, then this 666 International is recommended.
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AllMusic Review by William York