Record Label: Century Media
Release date: June 3rd 2016
By Wouter B.
Scandinavian black metal – It started as a cold wind from fjords of Bergen and frostbitten Baltic coast, finding its way to Oslo, Gothenburg, Helsinki and beyond. The gale now picking up in strength and storming across North West Europe, freezing deities and believers indiscriminately in its’ wake.
The storm also found me, many years ago in a record store no longer in existence, whence I found Secrets of the Black Arts. The album blew and carried me away for good, being easily one of the best black metal releases yet. If only for being Satanic, brutal and fast yet accessible, listenable and extremely well played. Swedish Dark Funeral strikes again, with their latest: Where Shadows Forever Reign.
Dark Funeral and mastermind Lord Ahriman (Mikeal Svanberg) have become an undeniable force in bringing black metal to a larger audience, as was initiated with their debut release. The secret of these black arts is perhaps the infective (sticky?) melodies surfacing here and there under a continuous bombardment of blast beats and riffing, while screaming against the high heavens to bring forth Satans’ eternal dark. And now, after seven years since Where Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus, they strike again.
But do they strike right and hit me with full force with Shadows! Dark Funeral as meant to be: extremely fast pummeling drums by Dominator and riffing to chafe your fingers bloody even when air-guitaring. And I just can’t get enough of the drum on closer Where Shadows Forever Reign.
A haunting, brooding soundscape building up to said characteristic riffing on As One We Shall Conquer […] And destroy the remains of the one God! […]). Melodies at half tempo to guide Heljarmadr snarls and ‘vitriolic’ vocals, who does an excellent job on his first full length album as the new vocalist. Bits of ‘self-reflection’ and duly slower parts can be found on the eerie and thrilling Temple of Ahriman (Ahriman is a reference to the sole god Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord or Supreme being) of the Zoroastrianism, an Iranian religion predating islam and christianity).
The bells are tolling, preluding the slow, dragging yet merciless As I Ascend, one of the gems on this release. Mixing spoken words and the perfectly fitting works of Heljarmadr, this song truly floats. The album is extremely well played and a much needed improvement compared to some of the earlier mediocre (salami) releases. Where Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus (2009) and Attera Totus Sanctus (2005) lacked inspiration and diversity, Shadows makes up for this loss in multifold.
Is it too perfect then? Perhaps. Shadows sometimes even borders on being (if only at the edge of) cheesy. Beware though, the cheese is mean, fast, Satanic and has ripened in a dark cave under the sign of the horns. Recording is, apart from being slightly brickwalled, high quality and probably the clearest I’ve heard thusfar from these Swedes. Arguably, much of the ingredients and servings can be found on Secrets. But I like that signature (a lot actually), and with Where Shadows Forever Reign they have delivered on and exceeded the high expectations one has upon hearing of a new Dark Funeral album.
01. Unchain My Soul (05:22)
02. As One We Shall Conquer (04:44)
03. Beast Above Man (04:44)
04. As I Ascend (06:19)
05. Temple Of Ahriman (05:21)
06. The Eternal Eclipse (04:14)
07. To Carve Another Wound (04:45)
08. Nail Them To The Cross (04:43)
09. Where Shadows Forever Reign (05:33)