Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dark Funeral - The Secrets of the Black Arts

A mediocre debut isn’t something you see very often. A band’s first album is usually either amazing, or dreadful. First impressions are important, and if your band doesn’t make a really good first impression, it can be a lot harder to win their support than it would be if you released a high-class first album. Dark Funeral’s 1996 debut The Secrets of the Black Arts is a great example of a debut album that is not only really good, but also shows room for improvement to get the fans to wait for their next album. Sometimes, when I get stuff by a band, I’ll go in chronological order; Dark Funeral was one of those bands where I did that. Although this wasn’t my first Swedish black metal band, it certainly opened up my eyes to the Swedish black metal scene.

When I first hear this album, black metal certainly wasn’t anywhere near being my favorite genre of music (even though now it is my favorite), and I feel that it was Dark Funeral that sparked my greater interest in the genre. Although their career and music have many ups and downs, I’ve still come to greatly support this band. In fact, I’m going to see them in Seattle in February.

Dark Funeral is one of the most open and explicitly satanic bands in the world. 94% of their songs have satanic themes and messages. I just thought that I would point this out if you didn’t take a look at their logo, album covers, song names, and/or lyrics. The satanic imagery has pretty much taken over the black metal genre (although it was used by most of the original black metal bands, so maybe it’s just more apparent now than it was then). And because of that, there are a lot of black metal bands that are what we Satanists call “wannabes”, “fakes”, “poseurs”, or “stereotypical Satanists”. Some examples of metal musicians that are Stereotypical Satanists would be Glen Benton, Satanic Warmaster, and most of Behexen. Now quite a few of people in the music industry that dress in these crazy costumes (corpsepaint, lots of spikes, leather, etc.) and have a lot of satanic imagery in their music aren’t really Satanists, and they tell people that they aren’t. They’re doing all of that for the “shock factor” (an example of the shock factor was when the first heavy metal bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath rose out in the early 70s).

The trait that everyone knows about Dark Funeral is the pure insanity and speed that their drummer possesses. I’m not joking, their drummer has one of the fastest blast beasts I’ve ever heard, and they only get faster each album. Although he is currently no longer with the band, he is definitely comparable to the drummer for Fleshgod Apocalypse, The Faceless, and Rings of Saturn. And since they have a fast drummer, the rest of the members have to keep up as well; and they do so with excellence. Their vocalist wasn’t as good in this album as he was in their most recent albums (which were one of the places that could use improvement that I mentioned before).

The songs are a bit shorter that what I would prefer, so it makes the album seem shorter and I don’t feel as satisfied as I would if I were to listen to Diabolis Interium. The intro track is somewhat pointless because the only thing you can hear is a very soft wind, which makes me think that it was done on purpose to make the listener instinctively turn up the volume so that they can be unexpectedly blasted away by the first full song that is on full-throttle. I don’t really have a particular favorite song off of the album because the majority of the songs have the same general mood, atmosphere, and tone. That’s another thing that they needed to show improvement on, the majority of the songs sound pretty much the same. Despite that, the album is a very enriching and interesting listen and I would recommend it to the metalheads that are more familiar with the black metal genre…unless of course if you think you can handle it. 16/20.