Dark Funeral comes back strong
After a lengthy break and a couple of lineup changes, black metal veterans Dark Funeral are back with Where Shadows Forever Reign, the seven-year follow-up to their 2009 release, Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus (that’s Latin for “Angels Burned for Eternity,” for those that were wondering.)
What all is there to say regarding Dark Funeral? One of the early Swedish bands to branch out from Norway’s thriving black metal scene, Dark Funeral has been putting out consistently solid releases for over 20 years, and Where Shadows Forever Reign is no exception to that. Dark Funeral has always been a band that knows how to set up that diabolically grim black metal sound while also masterfully incorporating engaging melodies that keep the music interesting. These are classic craftsmen of the genre, and though this new record might not necessarily be any sort of change or evolution from their earlier sound, their “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” approach is certainly one that works for them.
Even with the lineup changes, Where Shadows Forever Reign still feels like a classic Dark Funeral record (and strangely enough, the album art bears striking resemblance to their first record, The Secrets of the Black Arts). The new vocalist, Heljarmadr, seems to mold in seamlessly with nothing sounding out of place. The production values are a little higher, but unlike some of their black metal contemporaries, Dark Funeral was never really a band that went for the intentionally low-budget sound. The vibe is still the same, and the music comes to life right out of the speakers. A strong sound coupled with some old-school Satanic lyrics will be certain to make listeners raise their invisible oranges up high (when no one’s looking, of course).
This album is really a gift to the band’s most dedicated corpse-paint-smeared fans. For casual fans of the subgenre, it may not prove to be something that goes into their regular rotation. But most metal fans will still be able to appreciate the music for its gloomy atmosphere and genre-defining sound. It’s something worth turning on and letting its malignant cacophony drag you right into the depths of hell.
Like a lot of black metal albums though, there is sometimes an issue of songs sort of blending together. Thankfully, Where Shadows Forever Reign utilizes some strong and memorable motifs with a few stand-out tracks that keep the record from getting boring. “Unchain My Soul” and “As One We Shall Conquer” do a pretty good job of setting the stage for the rest of the record, each containing the classic black metal elements of tremolo-picked riffs and blast beats, while also incorporating some strong dynamics and impactful melodies that make for a well-rounded sound. “As I Ascend” takes things down-tempo for a bit, setting up the tone for “Temple of Ahriman,” which is probably one of the strongest tracks on the record. It has one of the most undeniably evil sounding melodies in black metal history, and the chorus-line chanting of “Welcome to the Temple of Ahriman” is enough to get the adrenaline surging (for those curious, Ahriman is a Zoroastrian demon, the twin brother of the Holy Spirit). “To Carve Another Wound” and “Nail Them to the Cross” stand out as some strong enough tracks to carry the albums B-side, and “Where Shadows Forever Reign” makes for a satisfying conclusion.
Where Shadows Forever Reign is a fitting addition to Dark Funeral’s catalog, and to the black metal genre in general. This is an album that may have something for everyone, from the casual fans dabbling into black metal to the hardcore purists. There are strong musical elements that will speak to a lot of differing tastes, just maybe not to your parents, who might be calling up the local pastor when they hear it blaring out of your room.