Dark Funeral

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The Secrets Of The Black Arts

Dark Funeral - The Secrets Of The Black Arts ©1996 Death/Metal Blade
1. The Dark Age Has Arrived
2. The Secrets Of The Black Arts
3. My Dark Desires
4. The Dawn No More Rises
5. When Angels Forever Die
6. The Fire Eternal
7. Satan's Mayhem
8. Shadows Over Transylvania
9. Bloodfrozen
10. Satanic Blood
11. Dark Are The Paths To Eternity (A Summoning Nocturnal)

Who would have thunk it? Based on Metal Blade's unerring ability to license only the most generic and cheesy black metal bands from Europe as well as the truly goofy band photos on the back (they look oh-so-morose in their corpsepaint and big, sultry frowns), I had always avoided Dark Funeral like Burzum avoiding a hippie love fest. So having come across their first full length disc, I put my Review Guns on Extreme Cynicism and prepared to unload a barrage of critical snideness upon the gloomy boys from Sweden. Well, darn it all if it turns out Dark Funeral is not bad...not bad at all! This is not to say they are exactly forging a new path of originality because they aren't. Rather, they are walking the tried and true route of blitz speed raging, raw black metal that is honed to sharpness by a very smart production from that Peter Tagtgren bloke. (If you don't know who he is, you need to do some more reading.) The thing about bands who choose to play a style already done by the many is that they must write only the strongest songs. That way their lack of originality will be forgotten in the appreciation of solid music. Dark Funeral smartly uses intelligent and strong riffs, variation in tempos that allow the music to move beyond cluttered exhaustion, and of course those screamed vocals. The album tends to move as a complete entity. If you stop somewhere on the CD, you may not remember precisely which song it was you left off. Dark Funeral will not win prizes for "Most Ingenious Use of a Xylophone in Black Metal", but with such a good performance, The Secrets of the Black Arts is the kind of album that all black metal fans should have somewhere in the musical collection.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1999

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Vobiscum Satanas

Dark Funeral - Vobiscum Satanas ©1998 Metal Blade
1. Ravenna Strigoi Mortii
2. Enriched By Evil
3. Thy Legions Come
4. Evil Prevail
5. Slava Satan
6. The Black Winged Horde
7. Vobiscum Satanas
8. Ineffable King Of Darkness

The mysterious thing about Vobiscum Satanas is that even though three-quarters of the lineup of Dark Funeral had changed, there was very little difference in approach, style or sound to The Secrets of the Black Arts. Perhaps the production is a bit thicker, a little murkier, but on the whole it's just a continuation of the previous line-up's work. That makes me wonder if they just clone and churn out black metal musicians en masse up there in Sweden. As with Secrets, this follow-up album blitzes through eight speed-charged blast-infested metal with the very expected black metal screeches grafted over the top. The question for the listener is if Secrets fulfilled all his/her needs with the style. Too much of a good thing, after all, leads to excess and disgust. While I don't dislike Vobiscum Satanas, I keep thinking I have indeed heard this elsewhere, no better or worse, but it has been heard. This isn't the kind of album that will be reached for often due to its overall redundant nature.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1999

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In the Sign...

Dark Funeral - In the Sign... ©2000 Hellspawn
1. Open The Gate
2. Shadows Over Transylvania
3. My Dark Desires
4. In The Sign Of The Horns
5. Equimanthorn
6. Call From The Grave

Sweden's most lovable black metal band decided to spend the time period around 2000 letting everyone know just who the heck, er, hell, they loved as musical influences. The Teach Children To Worship Satan EP feature four cover tracks while In the Sign... offers up four originals and two Bathory covers. As you might expect, Dark Funeral doesn't exactly reinvent the better mousetrap with their original songs, but they stick to the formula with gusto and vigor. Their version of semi melodic, high paced black metal has never been cutting edge, but they are still quite competent at it. But mostly this EP seems to be a definitive statement from Dark Funeral, which shouts, "We f'in love Bathory!" Their two covers are fairly true to the originals, though they have the mild Dark Funeral stamp on it. Amusingly, at least to me, one of the covers is "Equimanthorn", which I've always felt has been a template for most black metal bands who appeared in the 90s and beyond.

This EP leans a little bit into the filler territory and hardly demonstrates mandatory Dark Funeral music. Usually at this point, I'd recommend it for completists but that just leads me to wonder if there really is anyone on the planet who claims Dark Funeral is his or her favorite band. I even doubt the members of Dark Funeral like their output better than, say, Bathory. This much is obvious in their loving renditions of Bathory's music.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2011

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Diabolus Interium

Dark Funeral - Diabolus Interium ©2001 Necropolis
1. The Arrival Of Satan's Empire
2. Hail Murder
3. Goddess Of Sodomy
4. Diabolus Interium
5. An Apprentice Of Satan
6. Thus I Have Spoken
7. Armageddon Finally Comes
8. Heart Of Ice

In the year 2001, it's going to take more than a few anthems dedicated to Satan to really shock people or make them take notice of a band such as Dark Funeral. With acts such as Emperor being linked to church burnings and murder as well as Burzum's infamous stabbing incident, the lads in Dark Funeral would have to become mass murderers on the scale of Ted Bundy or perhaps mail bombs to unsuspecting Rolling Stone journalists in order to gain any sort of press for their outrageous antics. However, Dark Funeral seems to be limiting themselves to being musically oriented miscreants and are still pumping out their brand of blast beat loaded, chaotic black metal. Their latest, Diabolus Interium, is not exactly going to redefine the modus operendi for black metal but I'll be darned if they haven't done a smash up job with this record.

Dark Funeral is still convinced they are some sort of very evil group of boys and the lyrical content reads as though Satan himself hired them out for public relations. You have all sorts of odes to the fallen angel as well as anthems about sodomy and very loose women who may very well also be demonic in nature. For some reason I don't think the band will be taken too terribly seriously on these topics. However, in the area where it counts, Dark Funeral offers a walloping good heap of blistering, solid black metal. Diabolus Interium was recorded by very talented Peter Tagtgren and the resulting sound is one that serves up a timeless blend of old school black metal trebly guitar patterns with a thicker, very clear overall sound that beefs things up considerably. This may be one of the most realized black metal sounds I can recall. The chaos and grim beauty of the music is captured in a way that emphasizes the overall mood rather than sedating or polishing it up so much that the essence is lost. The band seldom lets up on the rocket fuel and rips through the eight songs in less than forty minutes. Thankfully, Dark Funeral doesn't try to overstay their welcome with a seventy minute CD that could be trimmed by half. Rather, this album gives you a smack in the jaw and leaves with the smug, content feeling of a job well done.

While the overt Satanic imagery comes across as terribly hokey, Dark Funeral delivers where it counts. With so many bands either exploring the symphonic and goth-tinged segments of black metal or lack in songwriting ability, it's refreshing to hear an old school oriented black metal release done with all trimmings. Dark Funeral may be fast food black metal, but sometimes that satisfies as much as a steak dinner with all the side dishes.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2001

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