Dominance – Slaughter of Human Offerings in the New Age of Pan8th January 2024
Dark Reflection – Everlasting Night10th January 2024
Label: Darkness Shall Rise Productions / Release date: 3rd November 2023
At the beginning of this review, let me just say that we’re dealing here with two separate tape releases, but since it’s the same band, same label and same release date, I decided to put it together and write a few words on both releases here.
Well what do we have here then? It’s our friends from Darkness Shall Rise Productions that has once again re-released some of the best hidden gems of mainly extreme metal, that our generation grew up on. This time it’s a legendary black metal act Dark Funeral. For those still unfamiliar with the band, I can just briefly tell that Dark Funeral is a Swedish black metal band from Stockholm, founded by guitarists Blackmoon and Lord Ahriman in 1993. They emerged during the second wave of black metal, and have ever since been delivering one after another deadly release, with each new release enriching their opus, but also refining their sound.
In The Sign… is a compilation album, A side featuring four songs from the legendary 1994 self-titled debut EP, plus B side featuring two Bathory covers (“Equimanthorn” and “Call From The Grave“) recorded in 1996, and three live tracks (“Open The Gates”, “ Shadows Over Transylvania” and “My Dark Desires”) from 2003. Back in 1994 when band released their self-titled debut, nobody knew how great and big this band will get. My first encounter with them was at 2009 at annual Aalborg Metal Festival here in Denmark. From that night, I was immediately amazed and fascinated by this unholy quintet from neighbouring Sweden. Back to this tape again; it’s really nice and kind of nostalgic feeling to listen to their four songs originally recorded in 1993/94.
EP opens with the fittingly titled opener “Open the Gates”. It’s a dark song, yet with necessary and well-placed tempo shifts, few catchy parts, paired with demonic chorus, intense guitars, hellish and hammering drums and a powerful bass presence, laying the foundation for this dark and gloomy atmosphere that this track is recognizible for. Following “Shadows Over Transylvania” impresses with its smooth and powerful lines. The lyrics are again very strong, adding so much volume to the overall sound of the band with an equal dose of aggression, intensity, grit, and demonic atmosphere to every single song. Apart from the vocals, there’re many blast beats driven sequences, which are then again successfully combined with fast verses and a few breaks. I partculary liked the slightly weird melody line at the end of the song. The following “My Dark Desires” follows more or less the same musical concept, while the closing track from A side “In the Sign of the Horns”, even though recorded 30 years ago, can still serve as an exceptional examples of just how quality black metal should sound. Finally, I would say that the Bathory covers done here, esp. my all-time favourite, “Equimanthorn” are all excellently executed, with a top-notch professional approach to the music of mighty Bathory.
The production on this re-release has obviously improved, being very professional, dark and firm. Of other noteworthy bonuses at In The Sign… re-release I would draw your attention to the great new cover art and the pictures in the lyric booklet, which are supposedly from Dark Funeral’s ‘personal collection’. Nice thing to do in order to bring fans closer to the earlier beginnings of the band, but also to look in a retrospective, and think what improvement would do justice to this debut.
In The Sign… may not be the most essential Dark Funeral release, although hardcore cult followers will find it interesting and something they need to add to their collection. Thus, In The Sign… MC is limited to 350 black tapes (w. 4 panel J-card), so make sure to get your own copy, from the links provided below, while it lasts.
Now a few words on the next tape, the one entitled Vobiscum Satanas, just as band’s second 1998 full-length record. 25 years later, it’s been finally available again on limited music cassette, which is again limited to 350 copies. When released in 1998, Vobiscum Satanas was a sophomore ‘always difficult to make second album’, esp. after their impressive debut full length The Secrets of the Black Arts, but also due to the departure of tone of the founding members, Blackmoon. The outcome was, and still is, simply outstanding and still to this date stands as Dark Funeral’ best ever. In other words; Vobiscum Satanas delivers a tight 35-minute blast of prime and pure Swedish black metal.
Vobiscum Satanas is also a prime example of Swedish black metal at the end of the century. There’re no unnecessary fillers, intros nor outros, just a direct sonic onslaught from the opening “Ravenna Strigoi Mortii” to the closing grand finale “Ineffable King Of Darkness”. There are many memorable moments here, so it makes it extra challenging and tough to name the highlights of the album. Nevertheless, I feel that tracks as captivating, energetic and raw “Enriched by Evil” and the album’s second shortest, magnificent track “Slava Satana”, deserve not to unnoticed. Another noteworthy thing that needs to be mentioned here is the classic Peter Tägtgren’ (Hypocrisy) ‘moderately raw’ trademark production of its time, it superbly complements all of the eight songs.
My special thanks to the label owner & mastermind behind Darkness Shall Rise Productions, Mr. Denny Wolfram, who once again provided me with another awesome double MC release!
Order your copy of In The Sign… here https://darknessshallrise.de/product/dark-funeral-swe-in-the-sign-mc-pre-order/?v=dd65ef9a5579 or if you like myself think that Vobiscum Satanas is high on the list over best black metal albums ever released, then go to https://darknessshallrise.de/product/dark-funeral-swe-vobiscum-satanas-mc-pre-order/?v=dd65ef9a5579