Dark Funeral – Where Shadows Forever Reign (Century Media)

Genre: Black Metal

As the sinister intro of opener Unchain my Soul give way to a thunderous, windswept riff and frenzied blastbeats, you get a feeling that Dark Funeral could be back with a bang. And that’s confirmed by the time their sixth album draws to a triumphant close, courtesy of a title track seeped in blackened Scandinavian melodies and powered by Dominator’s inhuman drumming.

Along the way, the Swedes excel themselves, scorching the earth with songs like Nail Them To The Cross and The Eternal Eclipse. It may be a startling seven years since Angelus Exuro pro Eternus, but founder Lord Ahriman has both quenched his fans’ thirst –  and stuck a middle finger up at his bands’ critics –  with this masterpiece. And while loyal acolytes might have been left dismayed at the departure of vocalist Emperor Magus Caligula, his replacement, Heljarmadr, spits hellfire all over Where Shadows Forever Reign. For a relative unknown, the new frontman has made a huge impression.

What’s most enjoyable about post-noughties Dark Funeral though, is their focus on writing great heavy metal songs. Tracks like the anthemic As I Ascend ignore both current BM trends and genre orthodoxy, and the quartet have also opted for a pristine production that makes Where Shadows Forever Reign sound absolutely titanic.  Much maligned they may be, but Ahriman and his cohorts can be proud of what they’ve achieved here.

RUSHONROCK RATED: 8.5/10 Reigning Blood