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Classic Review: Dark Funeral - The Secrets of the Black Arts
Dark Funeral
The Secrets of the Black Arts

Label: No Fashion Records
Year released: 1996
Duration: 40:55
Tracks: 11
Genre: Black Metal


Review online: September 14, 2003
Reviewed by: Scott Murray
Readers' Rating
How do you rate this release?

Rated 4/5 (80%) (60 Votes)

Newer Dark Funeral fans who let the metaphorical hooks of the polished shine and non-stop over the top Satanic mayhem of Diabolus Interium probably wouldn't recognize them circa the In the Sign… debut, or the classic in case here, The Secrets of the Black Arts. This was Dark Funeral in a stripped down form boasting high the usual Darkthrone essential catalogue influence. There is certainly no shortage of blastbeats and relentless devil worshipping fury, but production wise I love the mysterious and shrouded feel of this disc, along with some of the recognizable simplified black metal passages that don't rely on the decibels sheer volume to win over a curious ear. Of course, this is a Peter Tägtgren effort out of the legendary Abyss Studios, so the mix is excellent and well balanced between its accessibility and cult feel.

The next effort put forth was Vobiscum Satanas, and to me that was the straw that broke the undead camel's back in terms of Dark Funeral playing the field between black metal and the off-shoot Norsecore brand.

Once The Secrets of the Black Arts was released it was of course nothing new, but the quality of those soul-crushing riff edges, frantic and reckless drumming, along with the member's pure, unadulterated burning desire and hatred hit the right fans in the right spots.

The album includes two songs from the debut E.P., those being My Dark Desires (a hair-raising affair, definitely one of my favourites from the group) and Shadows Over Transylvania, along with nine other neck-bobbers with most of the writing credits going to founding members Blackmoon and Lord Ahriman, the latter being the only original member currently active in the lineup.

Despite the latest album lacking in replay value, I still see any Dark Funeral era as excellent gateway material to draw in more souls for the horde.

More about Dark Funeral...
Review: Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Attera Totus Sanctus (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Diabolis Interium (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Review: In The Sign... (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Nail them to the Cross (reviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
Review: We Are the Apocalypse (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: We Are the Apocalypse (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Interview with Lord Ahriman (Guitar) on July 16, 2003 (Interviewed by Barbara Williams (Crowley))
Interview with vocalist Heljarmadr on March 18, 2020 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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