A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: Dimmu Borgir, Coheed & Cambria

SCORING THE APOCALYPSE: Norwegian act Dimmu Borgir has its work cut out for it. The words "orchestral metal" may not generate much excitement with mainstream music fans, and the new album "Death Cult Armageddon" was recorded with the 42-piece Philharmonic Orchestra Prague.

Dimmu
Yet "Death Cult Armageddon," despite its B-movie title, avoids the off-Broadway tackiness that plagues much of the genre. The band uses the orchestra only to enhance its arrangements, letting the strings trail the guitar riffs, and utilizing horns to launch missiles between the band's industrial rhythms.

On songs such as "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse" and "Vredesbyrd," Dimmu Borgir lets the orchestra provide brief moments of respite from the thrashing guitars and croaked vocals. The symphonic touches are used often enough to add a sense of grandeur to the album, but sparingly enough so that they never distract from the aggression.

"Death Cult Armageddon," recorded for indie Nuclear Blast, is the second time Dimmu Borgir has added classical leanings to its work. For 2001's "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia," the group worked with a 15-piece orchestra in the studio, but on "Death Cult Armageddon," the Philharmonic Orchestra Prague was recorded separately. This allowed the band to mix in the orchestra at will, allowing for a more seamless melding of the two genres.

Dimmu Borgir formed in 1993, and the act has steadily ridden to the top of the European black metal scene. "Death Cult Armageddon" was released in September, and bowed at No. 170 on The Billboard 200, giving the act its first appearance on any of Billboard's tallies. The album also spent two weeks on the magazine's Heatseekers chart, peaking at an impressive No. 7.

Dimmu Borgir is in the midst of a North American tour, which is slated to wrap Dec. 14 in Albany, N.Y.

CoheedSECRET NO MORE: Indie rock act Coheed & Cambria has benefited from some high-placed pals. The band has played dates with the Get Up Kids, Thursday, Hot Water Music and Thrice, among others, and its new album, "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3," is jetting the upstate New York act into the same playing field as some of its more well-known peers.

From the pep-rally cheers at the end "Blood Red Summer" to the eight-minute, At The Drive-In-like title track, Coheed & Cambria specialize in radio-friendly, metal-leaning emo. With the high-pitched chirp of singer Claudio Sanchez, the group has earned comparisons to Rush, and like Thursday, the band strives to bring a prog-like complexity to its arrangements.

"In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3" is the follow-up to last year's "The Second Stage Turbine Blade." The act is signed to fledging label Equal Vision Records, which is also home to Give Up The Ghost and Liars Academy. A video for "Devil in Jersey City" (from the band's debut) has been earning airplay on MTV2.

All of this helped "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3" debut at a mighty No. 52 on The Billboard 200 last month. The album spent three weeks on the big tally, but is still hanging around on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart, where it was at No. 18 last week.

Coheed & Cambria will be touring the Midwest this December.