Saturday, February 11, 2017

Album review: Dark Funeral's Where Shadows Forever Reign

The kings of atmosphere but not much else
For all of the volumes of black metal that has worked its way out of the darkness over the years, there are really very few acts out there that catch my ear and hold on to it. Dark Funeral have caught my ear with the latest output, Where Shadows Forever Reign. Unfortunately however, after a few listens I don't know that they'll be holding onto my ear for very long.

It's a little hard for me to say why I'm not enamored with this album. Many of its elements range from good to great. The band's new vocalist fits in well quite well with the existing lineup and their sound. The production is layered enough to create that hazy black metal sound we've come to know and love while simultaneously being clear enough to avoid being audio fuzz with some shrieking on top. In fact with only minimal concentration you can easily pick out any instrument you like and follow it for the duration of any given song. Between the fantastic album artwork, the lyrics, and the instrumentation, the band have worked up a wonderfully dark and gloomy atmosphere, which is a must-have for me to enjoy a black metal release.

I guess if I had to nail down what it is about this album that doesn't quite reach as high as it could or should, it would be the guitars and the drums. It's not that they're bad. On paper they are pretty good actually. But somewhere in the transition between paper and recording they lose something. As I listen to this album I am always anticipating that these standard black metal riffs and driving drums that start off every song will lead into some spark of originality and brilliance towards the middle. However, that never seem to happen. They never give way to something else. They just persist throughout the entirety of each song. The driving drums drive. The simple tremolo picking riffs just keep on keeping on. All of the standards you might expect of a black metal album are here, and really that's all you get.

That is the extent of what this album offers. An excellent atmosphere but beyond that only the trieds and trues of black metal that have been done a thousand times before. It's a good album. Not a great one. It's worth a listen, and would probably make for an excellent introduction for anyone unfamiliar with black metal and its tropes, but I can't really say that it is all that interesting.

Score: 73/100
Originally written for Encyclopaedia Metallum

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