» Blog Archive Review: Dark Funeral Reign Once Again -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Streaming

where shadows forever reignShocking as it may be, I have not always been spending my days listening to black metal and complaining about it on the internet. There was that time period where I first listened to De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and had to go through “black metal 101” so I could try to understand the genre. One thing led to another, and in the process of disappointing everyone around me, I became enamored with the genre more than I care to admit. (Sorry mom) Around this time of black metal integration, (Give or take back in 2009) Dark Funeral’s video for “My Funeral” found its way onto my computer. It was pure, in a way, with how straightforward it was, yet leagues ahead of those try-hards that were attempting the same exact thing done years prior by better bands. I bought Angelus Exuro pro Eternus and enjoyed it, causing my younger self to back-track through the band’s career all the way  to The Secrets Of The Black Arts (Which ended up being my favorite) and ultimately had them help usher me into the greater void that black metal has to offer.

Hard to believe, but seven years have passed since Angelus, and much is new with the band. New vocalist Heljarmadr makes his debut with the band, who have shaken the line-up several times in recent years, but finally have presented something cohesive with Where Shadows Forever Reign. If I’m being honest, this is the band’s best release since The Secret Of The Black Arts. The music is furious and organic, the songs are constantly demanding your attention,, and the line-up changes help add a fresh perspective to an already familiar and well respected group.

dark funeral 2016That’s not knocking everything else the band has done, though: Lord Ahriman has always been the driving force behind Dark Funeral and, as such, has been an agent of chaos with his writing. Perhaps it was the long wait for Shadows, but everything about it feels biological and from the core of a very dark place. In particular, the production is as clean as it can get for black metal, but while this may be “untrve” to the most kvlt of black metal fans, Ahriman and fellow guitarist Chaq Mol fill up the sonic landscape with massive, destructive guitar parts, providing bark and bite and then some. In particular “To Carve Another Wound” is so villainous and sonically full, it should serve as a reminder why good production and black metal go so well together under the right circumstances.

While it sounds great, the true strength of Shadows is that it is consistent from the opening moments. Admittedly, the first three tracks are very standard Dark Funeral songs that do their best to remind you that this is still the same band from seven years ago, However, once it seems like that this is going to be an album in which they blastbeat their way through all nine tracks, “As I Ascend” signals the album’s change in direction, playing with the tempo and slowing their charge into a drone. Slower, heavier, yrtjust as sinister, this and the album’s mid-point “Temple of Ahriman” change the pace up successfully without losing momentum crafted by that which came before.

Lord Ahriman“Temple of Ahriman” brings up an interesting songwriting choice, however, and seems to be the only part of the album I can disagree with. The final chorus changes the key of the entire song, which is not so alien to metal in general, but perhaps the only time in black metal I’ve heard it done so deliberately. Perhaps had the song stayed in key and not done such a questionable technique it would have not caused any reaction, but one can argue this is a very black metal thing to do: fighting the convention, doing things that bands aren’t doing, and not caring for the rules all define the origin set in the early 80’s, so perhaps this was done for the same reason?

Even with this gripe, you can’t ignore that so much works on this album. From the moment he is introduced on “Unchain My Soul,” Heljarmadr makes his place in Dark Funeral known and is not weighed down by the impact the band’s previous vocalist has left. Heljarmadr handles the new material profoundly and it becomes obvious as the album goes on that he will, without a doubt, be able to deliver the old material from the band in a live setting. The band themselves could have not found a better replacement, and if it weren’t evident from when they released “Nail Them to the Cross” back in 2014, it should be notable now that it has all paid off.

Where Shadows Forever Reign is a testament to what well done black metal can be. Not every album needs to reinvent the genre, nor does it need to do something new, but Dark Funeral excel when it comes to showing what is capable with it in the right hands. Cold, emotional, and voracious, Where Shadows Forever Reign welcome back Dark Funeral to the forefront again, all the while setting the bar higher than ever before.

Where Shadows Forever Reign is out today on Century Media Records.


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