This true classic black metal, and not intended for those new to the extreme genre, and while it was reissued in 2013 as a 2-disc CD, this review is purely about the original release from 1996 and was likely considered one of the best albums of the blackest intensities from Sweden. Although some criticize the release as too much, they are sadly mistaken as it contains a rawness the was created and used when the genre was actually born. When it comes this classic, it reminds me to my most blackened days, while thrash continued to capture my attention, death metal led to the black metal scene, with bands such as Satryicon, Immortal, Enthroned, Marduk, Gehenna and countless others, the sweeping growls, and rich album art gave one passion for more mysterious discoveries. In 1994, Dark Funeral released a mini self-titled EP on Hellspawn Records, which was owned and operated by guitarist Blackmoon who played in this band. Then 1996, the unleash a hell on earth charge of black metal for ‘The Secrets of The Black Arts’ on the No Fashion Records label. It contained two songs from their Ep which are ‘My Dark Desires’ and ‘Shadows Over Transylvania’ and showed their uncaring and unapologetic attitudes, while praising the old ways of ritual and thinking of secret gods.
Let’s note that by time this release hit the market, the black metal genre was still early, though a larger fanbase was in European one started developing in United States, and such bands garnish attention Darkthrone ‘A Blaze in the Northern Sky’  and Emperor ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’  had thoroughly captured the original and sound of the music. Dark Funeral’s first attempt falls just a tad short; their overall style would refine itself with other release but attempt to hone that raw-black metal that one founded with Mayhem ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.’ It’s also clear the focus and direction of the band, with regard to corpse paint, song titles, and lyrics that the themes excel in achieving Satanism, Armageddon, and all that is Anti-Christianity. Simply this type of music was something no one from PMRC to parental advisory committee to ever thought of or wanted, but this music encourages more fans to follow them and even start their own devilish creations, praising their lord, and religious views. The overall production of the album is aided by Peter Tägtgren, from his infamous The Abyss Studios, who some might recognize the name as the founder of the death metal band Hypocrisy and has lengthy credits in producing music. Hence the mixing on the album is without question very good, and create a solid balance, it would be among the 7-records he worked on that year of 1996.
Blackmoon wrote the lyrics and Themgoroth, bassist and sang on many of the tracks screaming his loyalty and devotion to his lord, the songs “My Dark Desires” and “The Dawn No More Rises” are being intense, ranging from hellish screams to demonic growls, except on “Satanic Blood” (VON cover) when Blackmoon did them. The guitarist Blackmoon and Ahriman both have incredible fast riffs and stay consisted with them throughout the album, adding some distortion, but no keyboards, for any minor changes a hint classical creeps in, while Equimanthorn, pounds and blasts his drums, in a ferocious manner, straightforward madness to the listener’s ears. An unnecessary 16-second intro track starts it off, attempting to capture hell unlocking the gates to attack the living, but much rather just launch into the actual record. Themgoroth does at times use an echo effect from time to time, but Equimanthorn increases the drumming to reinforce anger, and this easily would convey to enrage any audience at live show. I want to touch on the artwork, by Necrolord that has a sect in robes carrying a covered coffin from the ruins of church or perhaps a monastery and this is obviously inspired by Caspar David Friedrich, a German 19th-century painter as his work sought for influence on other black metal artists. The CD version shows a bit of this comparison as do the pictures below, however a strong recommendation to purchase the LP for more details and interesting notes on the band members.
The Dark Age Has Arrived
The Secrets Of The Black Arts
My Dark Desires
The Dawn No More Rises
When Angels Forever Die
The Fire Eternal
Shadows Over Transylvania
Satanic Blood (VON Cover)
Dark Are The Path’s To Eternity (A Summoning Noctural)
Themgoroth – Vocals, Bass
Blackmoon (R.I.P. 2013) – Guitars, Vocals
Lord Ahriman – Guitars
Equimanthorn – Drums
This is very easily to sum-up, if you are reading these words, then you enjoy black metal, understand the themes, lyrics, beyond merely evil to outsiders, simply brutal and relentless assault on your mind and body.
Baron’s rating: 4.0/5.0