DARK FUNERAL: We Are The Apocalypse
Release year: 2022
Label: Century Media
For a long time, Dark Funeral were pretty much the Swedish equivalent of Immortal in terms of credibility and the comic book nature of their image. Commonly called “Dork Funeral” or “Dark Fun-For-All” or whatever cheeky names people came up with, somewhere after their second album Vobiscum Satanas the band seemed to become caricatures of everything that was menacing and evil in second wave black metal.
Fast forward some 20 years to 2016’s Where Shadows Forever Reign. All of a sudden the band had an all-new aura about them. Musically, they were way more in the vein of their 1995 debut full-length The Secrets Of The Black Arts than the stereotype Swedish sound of later albums. Gone were the silly album covers, and for whatever reason, gone was any desire to poke fun at them. Somehow, Dark Funeral sounded way more real than in years.
Now it’s 2022, and the Swedes are back with We Are The Apocalypse, which proves that Where Shadows Forever Reign wasn’t a fluke. Nothing about this seems like caricature or exaggeration to the point of humour.
To be sure, there’s a large amount of nostalgia at play here. This is what black metal sounded like when I got into the genre some 25+ years ago. Fast, aggressive, dark, but still melodic. Well produced, well played, with good songs and a dark atmosphere, We Are The Apocalypse are a prime slice of throwback black metal.
But it’s not just that. For the first few listens, nostalgia would be enough to keep this ship afloat. But now, 20 spins into the album, the effect of nostalgia is waning. There’s no way in Hell this could still suck me in with the power of nostalgia alone. No, the truth is: We Are The Apocalypse is a good album. It’s not innovative or original, not by any stretch, but it’s good. And for a band 30 years into their career, that’s more than enough. Dark Funeral were there, helping to shape the sound of Swedish black metal as it is known, loved and occasionally ridiculed. It’s perfectly justified to kick back, innovation-wise, and enjoy the fruits.
Harking back to the style of their debut, abandoning some of the stylings of Vobiscum Satanas and later albums, We Are The Apocalypse is replete with menacing tremolo riffwork which is fast and sharp, but also highly melodic; hectic blastbeats speed the songs with frenetic tempo; and the vocals are the shrieks of a slightly hoarse goblin who snubbed his toe. It’s nothing you ain’t heard a hundred times before, but it’s still good.
Aided by good production and sound, We Are The Apocalypse is, like Where Shadows Forever Reign, the album Dark Funeral should have made after Vobiscum Satanas. In my opinion, Diabolis Interium (2001), Attera Totus Sanctus (2005) and Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus (2009) all fell short of the mark at least a bit. But with their last two albums, Dark Funeral have managed to reclaim much of the ground they lost.
So in case you missed the news last time around: Dark Funeral are back, more vicious and serious than in decades. As far as the veteran rung of currently active black metal bands go, somewhat surprisingly the Swedes have climbed up close to the top.