I feel like I need to pose a question when opening this review. For some, it’s going to be completely pointless. Those that love the black metal genre, “untainted” and “unholy” probably already have a decisive opinion on the new Dark Funeral album. And since a few tracks have already appeared, you probably know what you’re in store for. Even if you haven’t heard the band before. But: how much do you love the gimmick?
You know that stereotype that exists to metal outsiders? That all of us who listen to it are irredeemable Satan worshippers and only love screamy, indiscernible music at breakneck speeds? Dark Funeral are kinda like that. To an outsider. And to the metal community. To anyone who has heard a black metal album before, well, you probably have at least heard the name. Probably in relation to their pretty good debut The Secret of the Black Arts. Though, to be honest, I haven’t followed the band that closely. Certainly not enough to tell you what song is from what album. Though I can say with certainty that I haven’t heard a bad Dark Funeral song.
Where Shadows Forever Reign is the sixth studio LP from the old school quartet. Though they feature another new vocalist (Heljarmadr of Curse 13, among others), and a slew of new musicians since the last time I properly checked in (Lord Ahriman being the only consistent member, much like Infernus in Gorgoroth). However, the band is still defiantly, and aggressively old school. Where Shadows Forever Reign is an album that throws its horns back to the blossoming 90s scene with love. And while a lot of fans will like that, after all, the trv kvlt will stand for no evolution in sound, and will tolerate nothing that hasn’t been recorded on aluminum foil, you will have to decide how much you love it.
Truth be told, Where Shadows Forever Reign is one of those call backs you might have been looking for. There’s plenty of bands trying to emulate the the sound of the era, but the authenticity is oft merely imitation. Though I can see how someone would see that approach in Dark Funeral. There isn’t a single aspect of this album you haven’t already heard done somewhere else, or by the band themselves. And for someone looking for a breath of fresh air, look elsewhere. Dark Funeral stay on that shadowy, left hand path, marching onwards towards destruction. And the opener “Unchain My Soul” will solidify that. Though unchaining their souls also shackles the band to the standard.
What’s going to make you love or hate this album is going to be based on how much you like the expectation in theme and structure. Satan lyrics? Check. Evil tendencies? Check. Anti-Christianity? Check. Wanting to sacrifice the Bieb? The want is there. And I’d go to that show. The album is ripe with the stereotype that the genre has come to be known for. And that’s fine. There’s plenty of fans that continue to chant, “Hail Satan!” and blow loads all over Under the Sign of Hell (as you should, that album rules). Metaphorically speaking, the album is like Halloween. It’s full of gimmick and you know what to expect. And it makes you smile over and over, year after year.
I feel like Dark Funeral has more often been of those bands that gets compared to instead of acting as the comparison. Still, Where Shadows Forever Reign is a solid approach. The album is fun. The production value isn’t the raw slice of tin can recording you might be after but it’s got some teeth. I can see why someone would dislike it but I’m into it. These nine tracks of vicious black metal are plenty worthy of your time and a fine reminder of the glory days of the genre.
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