I’ve always tried to like Dark Funeral. I mean, I like Sweden and I like black metal, so you’d think that their hyper speed brand of traditional black metal would be a slam dunk, right? But Dark Funeral has always come across like the guy in school who always tries just a little too hard to let you know just how mean and tough he can be. From the super gruff corpse paint and spikes to the horribly campy album covers, it’s enough to make even Glen Benton say “oh, come on now fellas…” Musically, the band has never been accused of being innovators, but with their latest full length, ANGELUS EXURO PRO ETERNUS, Dark Funeral are ready to show that they’ve finally perfected the formula that they’ve been cooking for years.
If you’re familiar with Dark Funeral’s previous material, you won’t find any changes to the band’s strategy. Blitzkrieg riffs, played super fast over blast beats, lyrics about Satan, the apocalypse, Satan, demons, and, uh, Satan. What has changed with album number five, is that the execution in their strategy has improved exponentially. I’m not sure what happened during the four years between releases, but Dark Funeral have certainly upped the ante in both the songwriting and performance departments. From the opening grind of “The End of the Human Race” through the final strains of “My Latex Queen,” it’s obvious that the band has put a lot of effort into this album. Keyboard free, the guitar team of Lord Ahriman and Chaq Mol use discordant guitar harmonies to create the atmosphere and accenture that synth work would normally be used to supplement. This is an approach that Dark Funeral has always used, but the particular melodies and phrasing used throughout the album are much more impressive than anything the band has put forth prior.
Equally improved are the production values on the album, courtesy of one Mr. Peter Tägtgren. This is one area that’s always been a problem for the band, but this is easily Dark Funeral’s best sounding album yet. The clean production work really allows for the subtle highs and lows within the buzz saw guitar attack to shine through, especially on more measured tracks like the amazing “My Funeral” and “In My Dreams,” which is unfortunately not a cover of the Dokken classic of the same name. The mix is also balanced, with Emperor Magus Caligula’s vocals finally being in front of the rest of the band, instead of awash with the rest of the instruments.
You won’t hear anything groundbreaking or earth shattering on ANGELUS EXURO PRO ETERNUS, but what you will hear is a band finally coming into their own. With this album, I imagine Dark Funeral collectively saying “this is what we’ve been trying to tell you all along.” Limited editions of the album are also packaged with a bonus live DVD from 2008, showcasing the band in all their wretched glory, which is one area that the band has always delivered the goods. Dark Funeral may still try too hard to impress in their presentation, but musically this will be the new benchmark for the band.
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