Review: Clumsy emulation of the greats currently reigning and the ability to make majestic experience from basic melodic riffing and peristaltic or urgent motion, the technique of this Dark Funeral release is not as important as the acknowledgment that it is the only darkly spirited album from this band and the only in which knowledge of song construction is not borrowed wholly from heavy metal bands. Similar to the more nihilistic work from the former band of guitarist Blackmoon, Necrophobic, songs follow an inner pace and unite a complex series of screamingly simple riffs in narrative toward amateurish concepts of Satan and "Evil."
When the humor subsides, some recognize this EP as a work of pure Swedish metal in its fusion of extreme outside material with the dreamlike fantasyland of epic heavy metal, and this in emerging on the metal side of the fusion exceeds later regressive works. If every note played were heard as its ripples in a pond, this release would be the study of gently and unobtrusively forming crosshatches of motion that eventually fade into uniformity. In this a clarity of periodistic chaos emerges in these often rough assemblies of riffing, and in clarity of early intent this release achieves a transfer of mood from creators to listener through synchronicity in intent expressed through simultaneous rhythmic and tonal change.
1. Open the Gates
2. Shadows over Transylvania
3. My Dark Desires
4. In the Sign of the Horns
6. Call from the Grave
Primitive blasphemy and mindless hatred are tempered by the soaring melodies and the updrafts of theme which consume them, whisked them into coils of sound suddenly superseded by a resurrection of fundamental direction. Open melodies surging into the stream of the collected phenemona they have induced fight for uniqueness before being washed into a universal death desire which is the tone-centric deliverance to these serrated, rugged, abrasive riff clusters. The sustained wave motion reducing intensity to ambient dissonance over barebones drumming that makes this distinctive, in reaching the core of melody by way of theme to each song, delivers the truest statement in metal terms of what is here offered.
While disadvantaged mightily by its archaic theory this release remains on the playlist for listenability and energy converted to reducing, vigorous slicing motions of tone at the resounding vibration of a highspeed pace. Sonorous beauty balanced by primal regression and erupting detours into dark moods give it a heart, but its powerful liquid riffs direct it to a being. This re-release is remastered with covers of two Bathory songs now included.
Review: Dark Funeral try very carefully to produce a perfect composite of black metal aesthetic. The front cover is a Necrolord picture; the patented distortion-harmony system of seemingly crappy production is in effect; the four corners of the back cover are populated with blackeyed whitefaces. Within the idea of a dark, melodic and simple aesthetic Dark Funeral build simple structures which repeated give an atmosphere to a disparate song that unifies its simple components, often triads or half-scale stepladder. These layered and iterated in subrhythm and submelody promote an urgency throughout the album and create an atmosphere through repetition of simple concepts in melody.
Few variations in playing style make this almost a monotonous approach, as unlike other practicioners of this style Dark Throne and Mayhem, Dark Funeral play straightforwardly at high speed without any muffled chords and few single strum, percussive chords. All of this is a river of melody with its complexities encoded within flowing simply with the voices of the dead hidden behind its vast powerful arena of noises, the hoarse voice of the vocalist barking or screaming a dominant rhythm for each phrase, urging it into darkness. Rushing, rushing but almost energyless as it races through the same combinations, almost frustratingly, of variation and evolution in these simple riffs.
1. The Dark Age Has Arrived
2. The Secrets Of The Black Arts
3. My Dark Desires
4. The Dawn No More Rises
5. When Angels Forever Die
6. The Fire Eternal
7. Satan's Mayhem
8. Shadows Over Transylvania
10. Satanic Blood (Von cover)
11. Dark Are The Path To Eternity (A Summoning Nocturnal)
Much of the added text of variation from standard black metal riffs used here comes from simple extrusions or complications, and as such some classic formats are easily identified, but many of these songwriting pieces are so granular or predefined that they stand for themselves as rhythmic statements sketching out a vector map in relative tonal motion.
Drums hold ground by maintaing a double beat pulse with ferocious fast and precise double bass, in the style of Marduk’s Opus Nocturne. The actual beats are straightforward variants on the ideas used by more conventional bands rather than the pulsing techno beat of a Burzum or DarkThrone, but the style keeps coherent with a more modern style of indistinct cymbal/highhat following the insane blast beats in synch with the double bass; there are more grandiloquent touches like great cymbal crashes and some amazing kickwork on the bass drums, but the basics are in faster rock with an awareness of the kind of body-moving stomp tempo that black metal bands previously favored. Only it has been here modified to stay within the fast trek and epic long-verse strategy of Dark Funeral.
Overall I find this album very aesthetic and harmonically predictable, but composition is not really its goal as much as maintenance of a carefully staged and microdesignated image that helps to create atmosphere. All of the major traditions of black metal find representation here as do most major riff pattern types, forming a seemingly inauthentic music that nevertheless works because it is assembled by great musicians.
It is engaging and powerful in the limited space where it functions and so creates an atmophere for the listener to interpret, but does not ever articulate a logic of its own. Consequently it remains limited in lasting appeal but the enchanting epic mystique of black metal expanded to an art of performance. The added bonus of the Von cover "Satanic Blood" illustrates the rhythmic power of this band with even the simplest possibly conceivable song as well.
Review: A pinpoint of darkness, trailing layers of possibility, is how this music would appear if generated in a one-dimensional space. Where most of the music operates on the basic principle of popular music in emphasizing key centers and creating a lyrical space for vocal movement, good portions of this album deviate into increasingly ambitious structures which provide a dark melodic undercurrent to the associated guitar played behind the major riffs to emphasize their context. It is a simplifed but well-formulated assessment of black metal as a classicist intervention in otherwise violent but cinematic rock music.
Aggressive guitar work either boils with blast beats that reverberate internally with a chaos that appears to the listener as a prolonged turbulence of abuse, or is augmented by a Hellhammer (of Mayhem)-style double-hit counter-rhythm that expands the percussion fill to be the bulk of a slowly released rhythmic tension. Well-doubled to emphasize melody, the guitars here are either illustrating a major theme or building subthematic melody to sustain it, sometimes in the form of harmony. Their duality allows a prevalence of metal power riffing at the same time fret-running augmentation in the style of Dissection carries a bulk of the listener's focus, underlying the basic melodic structure behind the work which is spelled out as often as not in the opening moments with a simple harmonic version of the riff.
1. Ravenna Strigoi Mortii
2. Enriched By Evil
3. Thy Legions Come
4. Evil Prevail
5. Slava Satan
6. The Black Winged Horde
7. Vobiscum Satanas
8. Ineffable King of Darkness
A major disappointment is the vocal writing - not the vocals themselves, which are a characteristically executed black metal pulse of spastic vocal diffusion (sounding a tad close to harmonizers in the rise and fall of the level of distortion but otherwise well stated), but the melodies which are missed in the seemingly tangential vocal lines which drift of course as if to suggest a direction, but in the end are pointing to nothing. The songwriting beneath them carries the songs well, despite losing its intensity due to a similar way in the method by which many of its more advanced structures are detours that support but do not evolve the major themes, effecting an affirmative return to the basis of the theme without any real change in its status, a thematic recursion often driven to conclusion by a breathtaking tempo acceleration and filtration to endpoint through a sequence of clustered blasts dividing more lyrical passages.
For those who enjoy aggressive metal in the melodic version of old school, this is a release that will gratify with its unflagging devotion to rhythmic stimulation with the replacement of harmony through melodic phrases that conclude in diminishing or leading phrases, a wandering tendency that allows the rest of the band to move in absolute motion of rhythm in construction of the song structure. The lack of larger focus to the melodic potential this band showcases in celebration of several generations of metal (Metallica, Emperor, Sacramentum) doesn't damage the motivational power of these songs, but does reduce competition to a linear passage that is less contrapuntal than a single dimension of reality moving between its poles.