Dark Funeral // We are the Apocalypse // Album Review
Sweden has provided the world with more than a few extreme metal acts over the years, to put it mildly. Dissection, Bathory, Marduk, Arch Enemy, Watain, Amon Amarth, Opeth, At the Gates, and Lustre make up a very select sample of the country’s impressive musical output. While it’s a country that’s generally known for being saturated in Death and Melodeath, it has unleashed many exceptional Black Metal bands upon the world, especially after the sheer explosion that was the Second Wave of Black Metal spread from its Norwegian epicentre across the border in the early nineties, hurling musical shrapnel at the unassuming Swedish youth. In fact, many agree that the subgenre actually properly took shape in the country following the shrewd mix of influences that Quothorn threw into the melting pot of Bathory’s early releases. One of Sweden’s most notable and notorious cultural exports is Dark Funeral, a trailblazing band as relentless as they are relentless, who returns to the fore with their seventh full-length studio album ‘We Are The Apocalypse’, filling the six-year-deep void left in their wake since 2016’s‘Where Shadows Forever Reign’.
Other than Estonia, Sweden is the least religious country in Europe. It is also second-most dense in terms of heavy metal, with 37.14 metal bands per 100,000 people. Coincidence? Not if you were to ask Lord Ahriman, Dark Funeral’s founding member and only consistent vein in a line-up whose revolving door has seen a staggering twenty-two members come and go over the years, almost giving Dave Mustaine a run for his money. With their full-length debut being titled ‘The Secrets of the Black Arts’, putting out a covers EP titled ‘Teach Children to Worship Satan’, and having former and serving members of the band being open practitioners of LaVeyan Satanism, including Ahriman himself, it’s clear that the band might not be the biggest fans of religion and Christianity in particular. They even made an appearance in a satanic porno, once upon a time, for christ’s sake!
Having a career spanning just one year shy of three decades, they show no signs of easing their infernal satanic crusade if ‘We Are The Apocalypse’ is anything to go by. Nine tracks of remorseless ferocity, the album makes the word extreme seem an understatement. It begins with a promontory riff that allows the slightest bit of time to prepare oneself before high-speed drumming and a run-for-your-life scream mark the descent of ‘Nightfall’ which drags the listener kicking and screaming into the depths of hell, only to be released once the Apocalypse’s forty-three-minute run-time eventually comes to an end. Who said the end of time had to last an eternity? The aforementioned opening track immediately emphasises the band’s skill and talent as well as its manifesto. Lines such as “fuck the world…when hope dies the abyss shall thrive” are underscored by a brutal, pummeling wall of noise, with intense tremolo picking acting as a harbinger of doom betrothed to cataclysmically fast blast beats which together create chaos manifest.
Over this sonic storm are the shrieks and screams of Heljarmadr, right at the forefront of the mix. And deservedly so; one of the most impressive aspects in an album full of them, there are moments on the record when his vocals are reminiscent of a Nazgûl shrieking a death-promise in the Black Speech, while there are other times when they’re more akin to a cold razor’s caress upon the earbuds. Indeed, in a significant departure for the band, there are moments with clean vocals as well as clean guitars. There’s a horror-movie-esque sampled section in ‘Nightfall’ that brings to mind the one that opens The Crawling’s ‘An Immaculate Deception’, and several songs, such as ‘Beyond the Grave’ and the penultimate ‘Leviathan’, that have spoken word passages as well as vocal rumblings significantly lacking in grit. The latter track is bookended by clean strings and features two high-register, heady guitar passages that shine brightly amidst the midnight-black metal of the rest of the record. But fans fearful of change, who might already have the words ‘SELL-OUTS!’ creeping toward the tips of their tongues just reading this, have nothing to worry about.
The band haven’t lost their edge or had a change of philosophy, and this couldn’t be any more evident than with the opening of ‘When I’m Gone’. Distortion is steadily applied to the clean guitar opening until an unholy scream unfurls from Heljarmadr’s throat after which he brazenly announces, “I know today will be the day that I day…my death shall liberate me as I thirst for the night.” The track itself, as well as the ritualistic ‘Let The Devil In’ and vampiric ode ‘Nosferatu’, contains large sections that aren’t at neck-and-brain-breakingly fast tempos, which although some may disagree, are as absolutely vital as blood is to a vampire, in order to prevent the record becoming stale and suffering death by similitude due to a lack of dynamics.
One of the singular highlights of ‘We Are The Apocalypse’ is undoubtedly the invocation of the dark lord in ‘Let The Devil In’. There is a passage in which the unfaltering guitars have a glint of melody shining against their blackened edges, as occurs to superb effect throughout the album when suddenly four words leap out of the darkness as viciously as an attack dog clamping down on a jugular: “THE BRINGER OF CHAOS” is unleashed, in one of the most deliriously vehement but also incredibly controlled screams anyone has ever heard. One that would be utterly unforgettable to witness live.
Speaking of, the band are performing a trio of dates in their Swedish homeland to mark the release of ‘We Are The Apocalypse’, one of which they are live streaming to the world before they set off to spread their infernal crusade across European festivals, which includes an appearance on the Ronnie James Dio stage at Bloodstock in August.
‘We Are The Apocalypse’ is a remarkably accomplished album with incredible musicianship, insane vocals, jaw-dropping speeds, and magnificent songcraft with balanced compositional elements and a strong sense of cohesion. Having benefited from the longest stable line-up in the band’s history, which has provided them with the luxury to push themselves and focus all their attention on perfecting their singular apocalyptic vision, Dark Funeral have come out swinging on the eve of their third decade with the same god-hating fury as their first.
The album will be available as Ltd. Deluxe clear-black marbled LP & CD Box Set incl. poster, LP, Ltd. CD Digipak and Digital Album.
The vinyl version will be available in the following colours:
– Black LP – unlimited
– Silver LP – limited to 400 copies worldwide, only available through Swedish outlets & EMP
– Red LP – limited to 1000 copies worldwide
– Ultra-clear-blue-white-black splattered LP – limited to 500 copies worldwide, only available through official band shop
The tracklisting of “We Are The Apocalypse”:
Let The Devil In
When Our Vengeance Is Done
When I’m Gone
Beyond The Grave
A Beast To Praise
We Are The Apocalypse
But not enough, DARK FUNERAL will play a very special album release show on March 19th, 2022 at Fållan in Stockholm, Sweden, supported by special guest Samael and support act Eleine.
The show will also be streamed online. Streaming tickets will be available soon.
Order your tickets HERE!
To stay updated just follow the link HERE where a steady stream of information about the release show will be provided.
Catch DARK FUNERAL live:
19.03. Stockholm, Sweden – Fållan
24.04. Tel Aviv, Israel – Gagarin Club TLV 07.05. Camden, United Kingdom – Electric Ballroom
10.06. Esbjerg, Denmark – Death Coast Festival 2022
11.06. Leeuwarden, Netherlands – Into The Grave 2022
24.06. Oslo, Norway – Tons Of Rock 2022
07.07. Ballenstedt, Germany – Rockharz Open Air 2022
15.07. Kristianstad, Sweden – Kristianstad Rockfest
10.08. Jaromer, Czech Republic – Brutal Assault 2022
12.08. Kortrijk, Belgium – Alcatraz 2022
13.08. Obermehler, Germany – Party San Open Air 2022
14.08. Walton On Trent, United Kingdom – Bloodstock Open Air 2022
20.08. Dinkelsbühl, Germany – Summer Breeze Open Air 2022
For more information and ticket shops click the link HERE!