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Dark Funeral: The Secrets of the Black Arts

Hmmm...Dark Funeral's The Secrets of the Black Arts, mixed at Studio Abyss in"Anno Satanas MCMXCV", with Equimanthorn, "Commander of the Infernal DemonLegions" on drums, cover art by Necrolord, etc., etc., etc. Even an offer to join TheOrder of the Black Hordes. These guys don't miss a single opportunity to let you know justhow "black" they really are...

A glance at the cover and liner notes is enough to make a fairly accurate guess at whatyou're going to hear. But though theirs is 100% black metal, Dark Funeral does offer asound of their own. Dual guitars and bass are overlaid with unique results. Thecombination of circuit-scorching distortion and unrelenting speed picking leads tocompletely saturated tones heavy in harmonic content which transition seamlessly into eachother. The effect is actually quite compelling; for the first few songs, anyway.Definition is added to this with the drums, which happily lack the indistinct"subway" sound heard too often in the genre, although they are heavily reverbedto add to the crypt-like atmosphere. And of course, let's not forget the unintelligiblevocals rasped over the top of all this. Lyrics are not included, but with song titles like"When Angels Forever Die," "Satan's Mayhem,", and "Shadows OverTransylvania," are they really necessary?

Dark Funeral doesn't vary much in their style. As mentioned, their sound is genuinelyinteresting, but they include very few lead melodies, most of the songs consisting ofrepititious chordal arrangements, and tempo changes are about as rare, even between songs."Satanic Blood" is truly moronic--three notes repeated for the entire durationof the song. The songs are, at least, energetic and frenetically paced.

Competent production saved this album. With the lack of originality and varietydisplayed by these Swedes, a poor recording would have sent them straight to their owndark funeral. The addition of even a cliched interlude or lead break would help. As withmany black metal bands, the focus is primarily on the "greatness of Evil", withonly secondary consideration given to the actual music.

The Secrets of the Black Arts was distributed last year by Metal BladeRecords/Death Records in the USA. Since the time of the recording of this album the bandhas undergone some major personnel changes and has not, to my knowledge, released anotherfull length album or EP.

Added: September 17th 2008
Reviewer: SoT Archives
Score:
Related Link: Dark Funeral Website
Hits: 1685
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Dark Funeral: The Secrets of the Black Arts
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-09-17 08:16:57
My Score:

Originally released in 1996, "The Secrets Of The Black Arts" is the debut album and introduction to the world of the Swedish Black Metal kings Dark Funeral. As an album its content is very straightforward and perhaps a little too similar in overall style but one can forgive the band with their first official release. They do set the standard of the sound they will eventually hold some mastery over with tracks like the albums title and "When Angels Forever Die". Of course like most pure and true Black Metal this is a sound that is not easily acceptable or recommended for everyone. The required levels of blasphemy are present in songs like "Satan's Mayhem" and even the ludicrous by today's standards "Satan's Blood". This latter track is just yelling the word "Satan" over some riffs and when one considers how much the genre has grown since it's inception it comes off as rather comical. I enjoyed the pummeling nature of "Shadows Over Transylvania" and "Bloodfrozen" but with the bands first album there was far too many similarities in the tracks. At times it is almost difficult to determine where one song begins and where the other has ended. Over the years they changed this up a bit and have managed to even hold a somewhat symphonic quality to their sound even thought there is no keyboards in the lineup. The lineup is also something that will be a mystery to today's fan as the album finds Lord Ahriman (guitars), Blackmoon (guitars/some vocals), Themgoroth (bass/vocals) and Equimanthorn (drums) making up its core. In today's Dark Funeral roster (2008) we only find Lord Ahriman present. As an album this is a good one to have to know more about the bands earliest go at the format and the re-master features a booklet loaded with the arcane lyrics that make this a powerful Black Metal force. There are also photos of the band in all of their Satanic glory in corpse paint and sinister situations to enjoy. From the very beginning it was clear that Dark Funeral were a band who meant business.

CD: Shadows Over Transylvania, The Dawn No More Rises, The Secrets Of The Black Arts, Satan's Mayhem, Bloodfrozen, My Dark Desires, Dark Are The Path To Eternity (A Summoning Nocturnal), The Fire Eternal.

*** The bonus CD with the remaster of "The Secret Of The Black Arts" will come as quite the treat to the rabid Dark Funeral fan for it features the entire original recording of this same album as it was done under the production eye of Dan Swano at Unisound Studios. Essentially, the band felt that the entire recording came out below the standard they wanted for a number of reasons and with that being said they went on to re-record the album with Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy/Bloodbath). It's great to have something being released officially many years after it had been making its rounds as a highly sought after bootleg and in some sense it completes the hard core fans investigation into the bands early years. Musically the album is the same but the sonic levels in the production are vastly different when one compares the two. The Swano production is far rawer and perhaps even a little more in your face than the one we found released by the band in 1996. I will say that its more aggressive based on this raw sound and that to its detriment some instruments are too far back in the mix. There are three less tracks on this one but in the end it is still nice to have it being presented on its own as opposed to being hidden by the band and finding people with ill intent making money off of them by circulating it on their own.


Dark Funeral: The Secrets of the Black Arts
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-08-22 07:56:46
My Score:

2007 Re-Issue with Bonus Disc

Regain Records has done a marvelous job in the last year reissuing & remastering black metal classics from such bands as Marduk, Naglfar, and Dark Funeral. The Secrets of the Black Arts is the 1996 release from Sweden's Dark Funeral, originally recorded at Uni-sound Studios by Dan Swano but the band was not happy with the finished product so it was re-recorded at the Abyss Studio under the watchful eyes and ears of Peter Tagtgren. Dark Funeral are an interesting band-for some, their music is too one dimensional and chaotic, which perhaps is true as they do use a lot of repetitive song structures, riffs, and drums blasts in their music. Here on The Secrets of the Black Arts (which was their first full-length release) the band are on full speed mode for most of the album, not relying on atmosphere one bit, as they rampage through 11 tracks of raw, uncompromising black metal mayhem. Their style of manic tremelo picked speed guitar riffing however has always given their sound a somewhat symphonic flair, causing a misconceived notion that they might be using keyboards, which they do not. The line-up of the band back then was much different than today-Lord Ahriman on guitars (the only surviving member from the early days), Blackmoon on guitars, Themgoroth on bass & vocals, and Equimanthorn on drums. There's plenty of raging and noteworthy tracks here, such as "Satan's Mayhem", "My Dark Desires", "Blood Frozen", the lurid "Shadows Over Transylvania", and of course the frenzied title track. The vocals from Themgoroth are of the blood-curdling, screeching variety, and work well with the relentless blast beats and non-stop riffing. The most epic sounding piece on the album is the finale "Dark Are the Parth To Eternity (A Summoning Nocturnal)", which pretty much sums up all that this band is about both lyrically and musically.

This reissue also contains the original recording completed by Dan Swano at Uni-Sound studio, and it's kind of neat to compare the two. First, the track listing is different, and only 8 songs appear from the final 11 that were completed at Abyss. The sound is darker, a bit more organic, and not as bright and punchy as Tagtgren's mix, with the guitars a tad more buried in the mix and the vocals clearly more upfront. Depending on how you like your black metal to sound will decide which version you like better.

The booklet that comes with the new Regain edition is chocked full of grisly studio & live photos of the band in their corpse paint, blood, and leather, plus you get full lyrics as well so you can read along to all the evil and satanic imagery.






Track Listing
Disc: 1
1. The Dark Ages 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
11. Dark Are the Parth To Eternity (A Summoning Nocturnal)
Disc: 2
1. Shadows Over Transylvania
2. The Dawn No More Rises
3. The Secrets Of the Black Arts
4. Satan's Mayhem
5. Bloodfrozen
6. My Dark Desires
7. Dark Are the Parth To Eternity (A Summoning Nocturnal)
8. The Fire Eternal



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