Formed at a time when the Scandinavian metal scene was becoming flooded with bands, all striving for "true" rather than "trend" status among fans and peers, Sweden's Dark Funeral emerged as one of the most exciting groups in the genre. Like most artists in the early black metal scene, Dark Funeral's music was raw and powerful with a strong lyrical emphasis on Satanic imagery and anti-Christian themes. When many of their peers were starting to rely on the use of keyboards to distinguish their "evil" sound, Dark Funeral stuck to the roots of metal, avoiding synthesizers.
In 1993, guitarists Lord Ahriman and Blackmoon recruited fellow Swedes Themgoroth (bass) and Draugen (drums) to form the first incarnation of Dark Funeral. Together they recorded an EP simply entitled Dark Funeral, which established them as a one of the leading black metal bands of the time. No Fashion Records signed the band in 1994 and after replacing Draugen with drummer Equimanthorn -- like most black metalers he too lacked a last name -- they went into the infamous Abyss studios to start work on their next project. It wasn't until 1996 that their second release, The Secrets of the Black Arts, reached their fans. Dark Funeral had a big year in 1996. Secrets turned out to be a major seller by black metal standards, but the band suffered a major lineup change that would leave Ahriman as the only original member.
So with Lord Ahriman and his new band -- Emperor Magus Caligula (bass/vocals), Alzazmon (drums), and Typhos (guitar) -- they embarked on a European tour, their first as a headlining act. Their stage act became quite a performance. They would emerge covered in blood and corpse paint while wearing long spikes and rivets and carrying ancient weapons. The shows also included a fire-breathing Emperor Caligula and pigs' heads impaled upon upside-down crosses -- kind of a low-budget Kiss concert. In 1998, No Fashion released their second full-length album, Vobiscum Satanas. Dark Funeral then brought their stage show to the U.S. for the first of two tours, supported by Metal Blade, who released The Secrets of the Black Arts and Vobiscum Satanas domestically.
By 2000 the band saw more changes in the lineup, with Dominion taking a vacant guitar spot and the position of drummer becoming a revolving door. The EP Teach Children to Worship Satan was released just before the band was signed to Necropolis Records. Caligula and Dominion also released an album by their side project band, Dominion Caligula, for No Fashion Records in 2000. Under Wings of Hell, a re-release of Dark Funeral's and Infernal's first EPs, was issued by Hammerheart in 2001. Late that year, the band signed to Candlelight. De Profundis Clamavi ad Te Domine was a concert recording compiled from a South American tour and released in 2004. It featured new guitarist Chaq Mol. The studio offering Attera Totus Sanctus followed a year later.
Dark Funeral's touring regimen was intense over the next two years. The video compilations Attera Orbis Terrarum, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 documented festival and headlining appearances over two years and were released at the bookends of 2008. A new studio effort, Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus, proved somewhat controversial as it contained love songs -- almost unheard of in black metal. The next five years saw global touring and unrest with a number of personnel changes, including the departure of vocalist Emperor Caligula. He was replaced by Nachtgarm (ex-Aeons Confer) in 2011, who was in turn replaced by ex-Diabolic Lust singer Heljarmadr in 2014. The limited cassette box set reissue In the Sign.../The Secrets of the Black Arts was issued the same year. The first new studio material by Dark Funeral in six years was the 2015 single "Nail Them to the Cross" b/w "Temple of Ahriman" in 2015, followed by the full-length Where Shadows Forever Reign on Century Media in June of 2016. ~ Kevin Odle