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Dark Funeral
Where Shadows Forever Reign
July 2016
Released: 2016, Century Media
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

Black metal is in a state of transition. Mayhem has turned their attention away from Lord Satan’s Secret Rites and towards warfare more esoteric, Ihsahn has abandoned Ye Entranceperium in order to explore North Face cold weather gear, and Fenriz is too busy sorting through demos and the local mail to Blaze in the Northern Sky anymore. So who are we to turn to for a fix of unholy black metal?



The Swedes, of course.



Within all of that transition, it's comforting to know that Dark Funeral is the AC/DC of old school Scandinavian black metal. Some albums have been better than others, but you can always depend on Lord Ahriman and crew to keep it real. Their latest (and first for Century Media) WHERE SHADOWS FOREVER REIGN is no exception to that rule.



WHERE SHADOWS FOREVER REIGN doesn’t dare deviate from the Dark Funeral recipe – it’s full of rapid fire kick drums, blindingly fast, evil riffs, and is tethered to seething exaltations against the Son of God. But coming off of a slate of lineup shuffles, including the departure of longtime vocalist Emperor Magus Caligula, the band definitely has something to prove with this record. Judging by the execution on these 9 new tracks, WHERE SHADOWS FOREVER REIGN is the beginning of a new chapter in the unholy gospels of Dark Funeral.



Several listens into WHERE SHADOWS FOREVER REIGN, I kept finding myself drawing parallels against the unbridled wanton hostility of VOBISCUM SANTANAS. (coincidentally that was also a transition album). The uneasy notes that open “Unchain My Soul” signal a more mature version of Dark Funeral, but a Dark Funeral that’s still ready to go to war. As the album progresses forward, the tempo rarely pulls the cinder block from the accelerator, but the underpinning melodies in tunes like “Beast Above Man” and “To Carve Another Wound” pull more influence from King Diamond than they do Euronymous. The standout tracks are tunes you’ve likely already heard, but take nothing away from the new material. “Nail Them to the Cross” and “Temple of Ahriman” were released together as a digital single last year, but complement each other in a bizarre yin/yang relationship. The former being more angst, the latter being more emotion, it’s a powerful set. But the real triumph is the closing title track. Already a staple in the band’s live set, it’s a church burner on par with the likes of “My Funeral”, “King Antichrist” and “Hail Murder”.



It’s been seven years between Dark Funeral records. Hopefully the strength of this new material and the power of the Century Media PR machine will help finally propel Dark Funeral to their rightful place on the world’s stage, and more importantly, into your stereo. WHERE SHADOWS FOREVER REIGN isn’t the best Dark Funeral album in the catalog, but it’s damn near close, and it’s arguably the most important in their career. “Welcome to the Temple of Ahriman” and leave your soul at the door.
Track Listing

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, Lyrics
Chaq Mol - Guitars
Dominator - Drums
Heljarmadr - Vocals, Lyrics


Next review: » Dark Funeral - Where Shadows Forever Reign
Previous review: » Dark Funeral - DIABOLIS INTERIUM

Dark Funeral
Where Shadows Forever Reign
July 2016
Released: 2016, Century Media Records
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson

Seven years and seemingly innumerable lineup changes later, Swedish miscreants Dark Funeral have issued their sixth studio album. Since the last one, 2009's Angelus Exuro pro Eternus, they've been through three vocalists – longtime frontman Emperor Magus Caligula left, came back after his replacement, Nachtgarm, departed and then left again to be replaced by Heljarmadr – are on their fourth bassist, and had drummer Dominator step away for a bit and return.



Only founding guitarist Lord Ahriman and his veteran counterpart Chaq Mal stuck it out for the duration. But the turmoil subsided long enough for the band to record Where Shadows Forever Reign – though with Ahriman also handling the bass with the departure of Natt after two years. And after all of said turmoil, it ended up sounding pretty much like textbook Dark Funeral.



Over their quarter century in the black metal trenches, Dark Funeral have been models of sonic consistency - or merely trodding the same ground, depending on your point of view – regardless of who made up the roster. And I guess as long as Ahriman remains at the wheel, that's how it's going to be.



So Shadows has a familiar ring: shrill, supersonic guitars, caterwauling vocals, an epic/dramatic hue and no shortage of blasphemy. The change at frontman, which stood to have the greatest impact on Dark Funeral's sound, feels relatively seamless here, indeed barely noticeable. Heljarmadr's shriek-and-growl delivery essentially picks up where Caligula's left off, and the rest of the band follows suit.



Shadows gets off to a strong enough start with back-to-back-to-back barnburners “Unchain My Soul,” “As One We Shall Conquer” and the fiendishly hooky “Beast Above Man” that show the band didn't lose any fire or zeal in the interim. “For we shall own the night, And destroy the remains of their one 'god,' And cast down Hell ... his soul” Heljarmadr howls on “Conquer.” The more things change, the more they stay same indeed.



“As I Ascend” slows things dramatically and is effectively grim epic, book-ended by the haunting toll of a distant bell, like something out of an old Hammer Studios horror movie. “Temple of Ahriman” takes much the same slow-grind approach, but sounds sluggish and clumsy by comparison, as if the band went to the well one too many times.



It's back to blasting with the furious “The Eternal Eclipse” where Dominator's drumming becomes a blur before he shows off some groove on “To Carve Another Wound” with a nifty shuffling beat matched by perhaps the hookiest chorus Dark Funeral's ever offered. The album limps to the finish, however, with “Nail Them To The Cross” - one of the band's more resounding duds that just never gets it together – and the bland title track where Heljarmadr's recitation-like delivery makes it sound like he's taking the lyrics for a test spin and lacks any conviction.



So instead of a triumphant return, Where Shadows Forever Reign merely rates as a return to a well-established form for Dark Funeral. And while that may be good enough for some, if you were hoping your patience would be rewarded by something more, hate to bust your bubble.
Track Listing

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

Heljarmadr - vocals
Lord Ahriman - guitar, bass
Chaq Mol - guitar
Dominator - drums


Next review: » Dark Hound - Oceans
Previous review: » Dark Funeral - DIABOLIS INTERIUM





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