** Twenty-two years. That's how long Dark Funeral has been at it. It, being black metal. It, being the black metal lifestyle. It, being two EPs and six full-lengths, going back to 1994, when black metal wasn't hip in your neck of the woods (unless it's Olso, Bergen, or Stockholm). For the past seven years, the Swedes have been writing new album, Where Shadows Forever Reign. They've changed vocalists, with Emperor Magus Caligula exiting after 15 years of service to be replaced by Heljarmadr (Cursed 13). New drummer Dominator (The Wretched End) is an inspired blast machine. And bassist Natt (Angrepp) rumbles Lucifer's great thunder. Reinforced with dark legions, Dark Funeral will take Where Shadows Forever Reign across the globe. Rise... Legions!
What prompted you to pick up Dark Funeral again after so much time away?
Lord Ahriman: We have kept fairly busy with the band at all time. And as soon as I felt strong enough again after that short timeout, I/we resumed the work on the new record as well as continued to look for a new vocalist, which quickly were found in the form of Heljjarmadr.
What were the songwriting sessions like?
Lord Ahriman: I have my own home studio where I demo new songs. I'll write and arrange both the guitars and I also program the drums, which naturally on the final stages are improved and nailed for real by Dominator. This time, I was also involved in some of the lyric writing and vocal arrangements. While I was doing guitars and drum programming in my home studio, Heljarmadr was working on lyrics and recording vocals in his home studio. And then I put it all together at my place. Heljarmadr and I found a very good chemistry and effective way of working together. So, we kept on working like that, had regular discussions and meetings, and kept working like that until all songs were finished.
Were the songs from different years or did you write most of the material recently?
Lord Ahriman: I've been writing on and off for the past 3-4 years I believe, but it wasn't until the last 4-5 months before the studio I managed to focus completely and finalize it all. For the first time in ages, we were done with a proper pre-production three weeks before we entered Dugout Studios. It gave us some time to rehearse and polish things ever further in the rehearsal room, which gave that extra depth and soul to the songs, I think.
Would you say Where Shadows Forever Reign feels more like an album from all eras than a simple follow-up to Angelus Exuro pro Eternus?
Lord Ahriman: By now, I think we've proven enough that we have a strong and unique sound and identity. On this record however, we have manage to bring everything to a whole new level. So, I would actually say that have started a whole new dark chapter that shows a much more dynamic, groovier, and even much catchier sound from us.
How has black metal changed, in your opinion, from the times of your first EP to today?
Lord Ahriman: Sure. When we began, we were part of starting something new. We were part of forming the scene and the music. There was really no one we could take inspiration from, so we had to come up with, and do all things our very own way. And that's where I come from. And how I've continue to run and develop the band over the years. Today, it's harder for bands to find their own and strong identity, so many either copy bands from the early ‘90s or are perhaps sometimes even a bit too inspired for their own good by the older bands. What I basically mean is that there's different generations these days and each generation has their own take on black metal.
Do you think Satanism, in any form, is perceived as dangerous as it was when Dark Funeral first started?
Lord Ahriman: No. It's like with everything else. The more exposure something gets, the less impact it has on people, but for us who have this as a lifestyle, it's as real as ever.
What were you looking for when you hired Daniel and Dugout Studios to do the record?
Lord Ahriman: To begin with, an absolutely killer production. And to work and record with Daniel, you know you'll get a killer result. Secondly, I/we wanted some final input from him as a producer on if and how we could improve the songs even further. And together I think we all managed to push the limit further and nail those last fine-tunings with utter precision.
Was Necrolord the band’s or label’s idea for the cover art?
Lord Ahriman: It was a band idea. I've actually kept in touch with Necrolord over the years. And when we began to work on this new album I realized it would be 20 years since the last time we worked together on the The Secrets of the Black Arts album cover. When I later asked him if he would be interested to do the artwork for this album, he said yes immediately.
How much input did you give Necrolord?
Lord Ahriman: To be able to make this artwork with a great depth and [make it] suitable with the music, he wanted to listen, and find inspiration from new songs while painting. So during the whole writing process I kept him up to date with each and every new song we completed. And on top of that Heljarmadr provided him with lyrics and additional ideas surrounding that part. And you can be rest assured that when we saw the artwork for the very first time, we were completely knocked out! Not only did it march my/our vision of the new album, but it also suited the album title amazingly good. One may think it was all staged, but when he delivered the artwork he had no idea what the album were going to be titled. And when I told him that the album were going to be titled Where Shadows forever Reign, he was as surprised by the perfect match.
Are you surprised Dark Funeral is still releasing music after all these years? A lot of bands come and go...
Lord Ahriman: Not at all! Music is my life, this is my life, and I live and breathe Dark Funeral. So, even if it may take some time for me and the band to spit out new material, I see no end in sight for the band.
What’s next for Dark Funeral?
Lord Ahriman: We are currently shooting a video with Owe Lingwall for one of the new tracks, which one I won't reveal at this time, but I what I can tell you is this; it's going to be epic! And once the album is out, we hope to start a whole new touring cycle, [going] all around the world.
** Dark Funeral's new album, Where Shadows Forever Reign, is out June 3rd on Century Media Records. Pre-orders are ready HERE. Pay attention to the splatter vinyl editions. Killer!