Dark Funeral - Attera Totus Sanctus - 2005 - Regain Records
1. King Antichrist 2. 666 Voices Inside 3. Attera Totus Sanctus 4. Godhate 5. Atrium Regina 6. Angel Flesh Impaled 7. Feed on the Mortals 8. Final Ritual
Dark Funeral have always seemed to me something of the In Flames of black metal. Their ‘true-ness’ has been debated, their longevity doubted, their image decried as beyond gimmicky, not to mention the murmuring of ‘sell-outs’. I personally was quite impressed with ‘Diabolis Interium’, which contains the brilliantly acerbic opener, ‘The Arrival of Satan’s Empire’, a standout in the field of blistering black metal if I’ve ever heard one. I do sympathize somewhat with the opposition, though. Dark Funeral have always been a rather showy troupe, particularly evidenced by pseudonyms like ‘Lord Ahriman’ and ‘Emperor Magus Caligula’ and the beyond absurd photo-shoots that rival even Immortal in their hey-day.
‘Diabolis Interium’ was five years ago, though, and Dark Funeral have grown, matured, even, if the interviews with the band are to be believed. To an extent, I’m inclined to believe them. Though the cover art of ‘Attera Totus Sanctus’ is as obviously Satanic as ever, the word ‘Satan’ itself does not appear even once on this record. How peculiar for a band with an album named ‘Teach Children to Worship Satan’ lurking in their early discography.
So what changes have the years brought? Well, most significantly, the Emperor sounds older. This is somewhat akin to last year’s rumpus regarding Lord Worm’s return to Cryptopsy and the debate that followed concerning his ability to belt out the growls and shrieks as well as he once did. I don’t know that as many people care about Dark Funeral, but the transformation is similar nonetheless. Where Caligula once spewed forth his words with absolute diabolical intensity and hate, on ‘Attera Totus Sanctus’ he sounds as if he’s losing some of his strength. Perhaps ‘breathy’ is the right word to use. This does add an interesting element of rasp and shriek that is certainly not a bad thing for this sort of black metal, though. It is a little disconcerting at first, however, and requires a bit of getting used to.
The first time I put this album on, all vocal qualms aside, I was honestly quite impressed. I had expected Dark Funeral to pan out and become a by-the-numbers band from this point forward, but ‘King Antichrist’ puts such doubts to rest. The drums quickly adopt a terribly fast pace that is hardly reined in through the album’s entirety and riffs as black as ever, this track seemed solid if unspectacular. About a minute in, though, a thin and rather mournful melody enters (over what I presume to be the chorus), and changes the entire tone of the song to something haunting instead of simply violent.
Upon subsequent listens, ‘King Antichrist’ is probably the best track on the album and probably for that melody line alone, but there are other such snippets scattered throughout, and they make this album more than a rote exercise.
‘Attera Totus Sanctus’ will not draw many converts to black metal, but it is still a respectable release. Bridging the many gaps between the speed of the more old-school Marduk style and the flashiness and accessibility of modern groups, Dark Funeral refresh their position as one of the most iconic and steadfast black metal groups today, if not the most groundbreaking.
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