Reviews : Albums : Dark Funeral, "The Secrets of the Black Arts"

Dark Funeral, "The Secrets of the Black Arts"
Dark Funeral
The Secrets of the Black Arts
Regain Records
2007, Regain Records
Dark Funeral, "The Secrets of the Black Arts"

Swedish black metal had, for a very long time, taken a backseat to its Norwegian counterparts. Maybe that was due to the murder, church burnings and other various tom-foolery that bands like Mayhem and Emperor were wrapped up in, but part of it was that Norway figured out black metal before Sweden did. Emperor, Immortal and Enslaved, just to name a few, were awesome well before Lord Belial, Necrophobic and Dark Funeral figured out how to sound like more than one song of dark chords and a stew of indecipherable blast beats. Secrets of the Black Arts was Dark Funeral’s major label debut. It featured Abyss Studio production and Necrolord’s artwork. The band wore spikes, doused themselves in liquid resembling human blood and wore corpse paint. They were 100% black metal, and for their music, that meant that they wrote pretty non-descript material. When the Swedish black metal scene started picking up with Dissection at the head of the class, it was always my opinion that Dark Funeral was hanging out at the back of the room with Marduk and Nifelheim fucking around, sniffing glue and trying to get detention. Their songs may have been fast and the lyrics evil and dark, but there was so little variation from track to track and even less within each song that it was definitely hard for me to imagine they’d succeed in a scene that already showed so much of the talent that they appeared to lack.

You pretty much know the rest of the story. Shortly after Vobiscum Satanas something happened to Dark Funeral, and their music got good really fast. Exactly what happened is beyond me, but it worked. Years later now, Regain Records picks up the band and decides to relive their glory days by reissuing Secrets of the Black Arts with a clearer, remastered sound and a bonus disc that contains eight of the ten tracks from the album, but recorded at Dan Swano’s legendary Unisound Studio (and, yes, they do sound better than the Abyss recordings). Though the quality is better on this rereleased version of the album, there isn’t much more to say about the music than what I said above. It’s bland, it’s dull, and though it is played with conviction, it lacks the vision that better bands then and the new version of Dark Funeral now have. Aside from some cooler moments on “My Dark Desires” and “Dark Are the Path to Eternity,” there still isn’t much worth writing home about. If you missed your chance to catch Dark Funeral before Diabolis Interium, this is your golden opportunity. ..though, in my book, it isn’t really worth the effort.

Standout Tracks

   My Dark Desires
   Dark Are the Path to Eternity

Peter Johnston