O, Sweet Father of Darkness, the Black Metal legends themselves, DARK FUNERAL have returned with brand new album Where Shadows Forever Reign, out now via Century Media Records. I have to thank A&GS staffer Kelly Sharadin for turning me onto them while outside on a cold winter’s night, freezing our asses off in line to get in for a show. Since then I’ve purchased the entire discography and spent a lot of time waiting for this record to come out. Let me tell you, “worth the wait” doesn’t even begin to describe it. First of all, new vocalist Heljarmadr has one of the best voices for Black Metal I’ve ever heard; he owns these songs from start to finish.
Secondly, guitarist, principal songwriter, and founding member Lord Ahriman has served up nine compositions worthy of spinning over and over again. His riffing, along with that of his counterpart Chaq Mol very much reminds me of a cauldron full of water resting on flames that eventually push each track past the boiling point, scalding everyone and everything around it. Dominator goes from fiery blast beats to a steady metronome depending on what the songs call for, often within the same number, and the pacing never drags or bores.
Seven years is a long time to be away, and it’s as if the group were determined to make something that would stick an M-80 up the asses of any and all competition, because that’s what it sounds like. Songs like “Temple of Ahriman”, “The Eternal Eclipse”, and “As One We Shall Conquer” sound the battle cry loud and clear, everyone bent on destruction. Opener “Unchain My Soul” has a watery guitar line at the start that is sinister as all get-out, and then it methodically caves in your skull. “Beast Above Man” rolls forward like an armored tank division at half speed. Run all you want, they’ll find and crush you eventually.
And on a more slow, methodical front “As I Ascend” changes the pace without losing any of the evil aesthetic. The guitars play such a pivotal role here, it’s insane. “To Carve Another Wound” manages to combine the anger and aggression with the haunting at just the right moments. Now, “Nail Them to the Cross” has been out for a year and a half, so if you’re not familiar with this one, just hang up now and we’ll talk later, OK? Another skull-splitter, it paves the way for title track and closer “Where Shadows Forever Reign” in which Ahriman, Mol, Dominator, and Heljarmadr wrap themselves around one another to create a four-headed venomous serpent that will kill you with one bite.
As I said before, seven years is a long time to be gone, no matter what type of music you play. But as soon as this album starts, it feels like DARK FUNERAL never went away. Unrelenting, uncompromising, and unyielding, Where Shadows Forever Reign will no doubt be my Black Metal Album of 2016. Everything about this record is perfect, from its atmosphere, to the production, to the incredible songwriting. I cannot stress enough how badly all you Black Metal fans need this one in your collection.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM