Dark Funeral: Emperor Magus Caligula (vocals, bass guitar); Lord Ahriman, Chaq Mol (guitar); Richard Cabeza (bass instrument); Matte Modin (drums).
The folks who insist that all black metal is loudness for the sake of loudness are a lot like the folks who think that all rap is about "bitches, hoes, blunts, and gats" -- in other words, they have heard part of the story but not the entire story. It's true that a lot of rap (especially gangsta rap) is obsessed with "bitches, hoes, blunts, and gats," but a true hip-hop head can tell you that rap is also everything from the lightheartedness of the Fresh Prince to the biting political commentary of Public Enemy and KRS-One to the quirky eccentricity of De La Soul and the Pharcyde. And similarly, black metal (and death metal) has had its merciless skull-crushers as well as more melodic outfits such as Shade Empire and Lifend. Dark Funeral, like Marduk, has represented the harsher, more punishing side of black metal -- and that commitment to savage brutality remains strong on Attero Totus Sanctus. Two words that will inevitably be used in connection with this 2005 release are "uncompromising" and "limitations." Both are appropriate; musically, Dark Funeral's hammer-to-the-head approach does have its limitations -- and anyone who has been following the band since the '90s will find that Attero Totus Sanctus is highly predictable and doesn't break any new ground for the Nordic black metallers. But predictability isn't necessarily a terrible thing -- certainly not for the all the Dark Funeral diehards who admire the Swedes' refusal to soften their blows. Attero Totus Sanctus is predictably exciting -- nothing new by mid-2000s standards, but focused, solid, and exhilarating in a totally bombastic way. This 42-minute CD is unlikely to convert anyone who resisted Dark Funeral's assault in the past, but the true believers will find it to be a worthwhile addition to their occult-obsessed catalog. ~ Alex Henderson