Where Shadows Forever Reign
Century Media Records
Release Date: 3 June 2016
Review by Sam Barker
After twenty-three years of creating oppressively dark black metal, Dark Funeral have it in the bag. Their latest release, Where Shadows Forever Reign, is the Swedish band’s sixth studio album, and gives listeners precisely what they want to hear. Whether or not Dark Funeral are bringing anything new to the table however, is debatable. Besides the clean and polished production by Daniel Bergstrand (In Flames, Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth), this record is what you’d expect from a black metal album in 2016.
Where Shadows Forever Reign is the first album released with new vocalist Heljarmadr – his voice saunters over the precise riffs with ease. The guitars are melodic and extremely well-produced; it’s rare to find a guitar tone this clear in most black metal. Most of the tracks on the album start with a guitar intro, followed by the guttural growls of Heljarmadr and intricate drumming by the aptly named Dominator. Most of the songs also finish with an abrupt ending and you begin to see a common pattern with the songs on this record by the third song, Beast Among Men. However, your attention is immediately grabbed when the brooding epic, As I Ascend, comes on. Rather than starting with a guitar, followed by drumming and vocals, you hear bells, slow-paced guitars, and interesting undertones in the chords beneath, which is definitely a refreshing highlight of the album.
Nevertheless, it is not long before, Where Shadows Forever Reign, glides back into the similar song structure; a guitar intro, a well-structured song, then an abrupt end. Don’t get me wrong – the riffs are extremely well-written, and the songs well-structured. Just the intro riffs alone would make a great album. However, one would perhaps expect some deviation from said song structure throughout the album. The only two songs that deviate from this are, as mentioned before, As I Ascend, and the title track, Where Shadows Forever Reign.
Regardless, the production is definitely the greatest attribute of the record, and the playing is immaculate, whether it be the intricate drumming or the precise guitar work. However, I would not say that, Where Shadows Forever Reign, is ethereal nor dangerous. Don’t let these words restrain you from buying the album, it’s definitely worth a listen for fans of black metal, and Dark Funeral fans will not be disappointed. I would not describe the album as a game-changer, however.