Review by Juha Karvonen/May 2014
Dark Funeral are without a doubt one of Sweden’s most famous black metal bands. They are known for their extremely fast and melodic style. Century Media has now released a new remastered edition of “Diabolis Interium” – a record originally released in 2001 and now regarded as one of their most important. Dark Funeral started in 1993 and their first full album “Secrets Of The Black Arts” came out three years later. That first album is definitely among the band’s best. Second release “Vobiscum Satanas” appeared in 1998. Along with “Diabolis Interium” band’s fourth and fifth albums are also now reissued via Century Media.
“Diabolis Interium” was recorded at famous Abyss-studios in Stockholm under guidance of legendary producer Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain). The man has produced albums for Immortal, Children Of Bodom, Dimmu Borgir and countless other metal bands.
Third albums are often most difficult for many bands but here Dark Funeral brings hellfire and offers their angriest and most aggressive album ever. “The Arrival Of Satan’s Empire” opens the game and is a great reflection of the whole album’s concept. Double bass drums grind a beat, guitars crank out riffs, vocals epitomise painful declaration and one cannot mistake the message in this sermon. The song itself is typical Dark Funeral, and vocalist Caligula shouts his lungs out. The band are very skilled in keeping listener interested throughout the whole song even when tempo is approaching speeding limits. Melodies are in presence and the music occasionally sounds hypnotic which I find excellent in black metal.
The second cut “Hail Murder” continues in similar vein, guitar melodies dominating the arrangement even more. A very atmospheric track again relying on speed. In the third song pace is brought down and drummer Matte Modim shows his skills. Even though for big audiences black metal represents chaos and unknown, the abilities of these musicians cannot be denied. In “Goddess Of Sodomy” the band shows how to merge guitars and drums together in such a way, the song seems to sink inside your head. This is one of Dark Funeral’s best numbers, although it’s slower than their usual material. Vocals support the instruments here perfectly.
The title track puts the pedal to the medal once again, although after brilliant opening the song does become somewhat indistinguishable from rest of the material. “An Apprentice Of Satan” with its melodies show what best melodic black metal is, remaining in one’s head long after listening. Caligula’s vocal performance is excellent and one must admire his technique. The song is fast and contains several tempo changes keeping listener tightly in its grip. At this moment one must let out a sigh: they have done it again, created a killer album!
“Thus I Have Spoken” begins with a slower riff until the song gets moving and hell’s gates are opened. The chaos and burning heat of hell can be felt on your face as the song plays! The tempo is ridiculously fast and even experienced guitarists must have an aching wrist after cranking this riff. This cut is in line with rest of the material but remains possibly the weakest offering here.
After this small disappointment a listener is woken up like burning lava thrown straight on your face: “Armageddon Finally Comes” is IMO the greatest and most ambitious song in Dark Funeral’s career. It’s incredible how well the band has embraced the lyrics of the song in its atmosphere. If this track doesn’t cut it, then let’s face it – Dark Funeral is simply not for you. Midway through the song, tempo is slowed down a notch while brutal vocals take over. Guitars crank in with a riff to herald Armageddon. Caligula screams and listener must take notice; we are not talking about any Swedish national hymns that’s for sure! With its concrete pain and despair, the singing comes straight out of hell.
The final number ”Heart Of Ice” continues the well-beaten path and until the end, listener is not being let out of the record easily. A fine and emotional ending to an excellent album. Well, a small outro to bid farewell to the world might have been appropriate too.
The bonus songs didn’t set my world on fire, although it was intriguing to hear how covers of Slayer and King Diamond among others were interpreted to the Dark Funeral sound. Speaking of sounds, the record’s sonic picture is really great. We ain’t talking about the middle ages and people making albums in their basements here. The sound is as clear as one can get with a black metal disc such as this. Bass is sometimes buried under strength of guitars and while this gets noticed, it does not affect the overall quality of the album. Drums sound accurate and well up front. It is obvious mistakes have been cleared out and playing is very precise. Caligula’s vocals are most definitely the best he has ever done. In my opinion, in black metal it is extremely important to maintain the atmosphere throughout the whole album and with “Diabolis Interium” Dark Funeral has done it in spades. If something is indeed missing, it might be some interludes to give breathing space and that outro piece to finish off the album. The only downside – if you must find it – is that many of the songs do sound similar, but there are still enough songs separating from the pack to keep fans happy.
1. The Arrival Of Satan’s Empire
2. Hail Murder
3. Goddess Of Sodomy
4. Diabolis Interium
5. An Apprentice of Satan
6. Thus I Have Spoken
7. Armageddon Finally Comes
8. Heart Of Ice
Bonus disc (Teach Children to Worship Satan)
1. An Apprentice Of Satan
2. The Trial
3. Dead Skin Mask
4. Remember The Fallen
5. Pagan Fears