Dark Funeral - The Secrets Of The Black Arts

Production: The production here has been very carefully staged to include enough distortion and overlap to enhance the melodic effect of simple black metal riffing. All instruments are clearly represented by the loudest element is guitar tone and melody in a ripping wall of distortion.

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 Darkthrone 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.

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.


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
9. Bloodfrozen
10. Satanic Blood (Von cover)
11. Dark Are The Path To Eternity (A Summoning Nocturnal)

Length: 40:55

Dark Funeral - The Secrets Of The Black Arts: Black Metal 1996 Dark Funeral

Copyright © 1996 No Fashion

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.