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Dark Funeral – Where Shadows Forever Reign Award winner

Dark Funeral
Where Shadows Forever Reign
by Erika Kuenstler at 28 June 2016, 10:06 PM

Having grown up on a steady staple of Black Metal, not least of which was the infernal debut “The Secrets of the Black Arts”, I among thousands of other DARK FUNERAL have been wondering what would follow from the band’s prolonged silence. Arguably Sweden's most infamous Black Metal band, DARK FUNERAL return on form this year, seven years after the release of their full-length album “Angelus Exuro pro Eternus”.  Two whole decades after their debut full-length,  DARK FUNERAL are back with their sixth full-length album “Where Shadows Forever Reign”, and with it we are taken back to the bygone glory days of Black Metal in the mid 90s that will have die-hard fans everywhere breathing a breath of relief. The influences of “The Secrets of the Black Arts” on this latest opus is undeniable, reflected in a score of minor details, ranging from the colour tones and cowled monks of the album artwork, all the way through to the title of the album, with these two albums being the only albums named in English. Yet for all of these similarities, “Where Shadows Forever Reign” shows a level of technicality and musical ability that was completely beyond the band 20 years ago, giving a mature and professional quality to the music.

With this album, DARK FUNERAL have stayed true to their previous music directions. In a time where so many bands are quick to follow the latest musical trends, this steadfastness is a welcome change. Starting off with sombre and placid tones which come creeping in, we have a much slower intro than expected. However, this lulling atmosphere is soon shattered by the ferociousness of “Unchain My Soul”, definitely one of the strongest songs of the album. Featuring Heljarmadr on vocals for the first time, his raspy input drips venom and vehemence from every note, setting the stage for the pounding drums and monstrous guitar riffs to charge into the fray. Sounding somewhat like Shagrath of DIMMU BORGIR, his horror tinged vocal style provides a solid backbone for the remaining instruments, and works well with the band’s style. The rest of DARK FUNERAL prove that they have lost none of their potency over their hiatus, with overpowering songs like “As One We Shall Conquer” and the tantalisingly sepulchre  “Beast Above Man” with mid-pace madness and maelstrom of drumming. “As I Ascend” sees the perfect collaboration between Heljarmadr and the rest of the band, with each side egging the other on to greater heights, although the song is somewhat lacklustre in comparison to those that came before.  Then we have the seething and oozing melodies of “Temple of Ahriman”, providing the album with a strong pinnacle, albeit perhaps an egocentric one. “The Eternal Eclipse” perhaps also accommodates more melody than we're used to from the likes of DARK FUNERAL, but has nonetheless lost none of it's ferocious drive, rather bringing a dark and depressive beauty to the fore. “To Carve Another Wound” allows more technique to shine through, with Dominator in particular showing off his bestial skills from the throne. Penultimately we have the catchy yet militant “Nail Them To The Cross”, with which fans will already be familiar, due to its release as a single last year. Finally we have the title song to end off the album. “Where Shadows Forever Reign”, whose icy riffs and majestic passages show just how formidable DARK FUNERAL still are. Absolutely stunning!

Overall, it is good to see that DARK FUNERAL still embrace their Old School attitude. In an industry in which half the bands are trying out new fads, and the other half imitate was has already been done, it's refreshing to find bands that have stayed true to their roots whilst still finding the room to grow as musicians. Granted, many will likely critique the band for having tried too hard to cling to their old sound, and many will undoubtedly label “Where Shadows Forever Reign” as a stereotypical rehash of what has come before. Yet if you take the time to really listen to this release, you will find so many hidden and unexpected facets that make it truly stand out.  The production of the album is also good, maintaining the thin line between overpowering organic sounds, whilst still ensuring that the individual instruments are fully audible.

Harsh and unrelenting, with “Where Shadows Forever Reign” we have an opus that shows that the band is still very much alive and kicking. An absolute must for all DARK FUNERAL fans, and strongly recommended for fans of Black Metal in general.

Memorability: 8
Song-writing: 9
Production: 7
Originality: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Unchain My Soul
2. As One We Shall Conquer
3. Beast Above Man
4. As I Ascend
5. Temple of Ahriman
6. The Eternal Eclipse
7. To Carve Another Wound
8. Nail Them to the Cross
9. Where Shadows Forever Reign
Lineup:
Lord Ahriman - Guitars, Bass
Chaq Mol - Guitars
Dominator - Drums
Heljarmadr - Vocals
Record Label: Century Media Records
     


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