Dark Funeral Serves Up A Lesson on Black Metal

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"This song is about a very beautiful day," said Emperor Magus Caligula, lead growler for the Swedish black-metal band Dark Funeral. "It's about the arrival of Satan's empire!" he barked, the sentence ending in a screeching yowl that sent the Tuesday night crowd at Jaxx into an arm-waving frenzy of devil-horn affirmation.

Black metal is primarily a Nordic phenomenon, the genre's artists embracing their Viking and pagan pasts thematically and reverting to an almost primal state musically.

The evening's co-headliner, Norway's Enslaved, features the influences of Pink Floyd and Alice in Chains in its progressive black metal, with sung sections offsetting the Cookie Monster vocals and tempo changes breaking up the jackhammered double-bass drums.

But Dark Funeral is among the most extreme examples of black metal, and the group's hour-long set was uniformly brutal. The band's buzz-saw music is unrelentingly fast, and drummer Matte Modin incessantly battered his double-bass drums as Chaq Mol and bandleader Lord Ahriman hammered their guitars to create a dense wall of sludge, not flashy solos.

Dark Funeral's 15 songs, such as "666 Voices Inside" and the concert-closing "An Apprentice of Satan," were almost willfully unvarying, giving the set an extended-suite feel. The only thing breaking up the band's dark-arts trance was a constant buzz coming from the bass.

Caligula, who, like the rest of the band, had his face covered in white "corpse paint" and was decked out in "Mad Max" gear, made light of the situation: "We are so poor we can't afford decent cables." An audience member screamed back, "Satan stole them!"

Even Beelzebub would have laughed.

-- Christopher Porter

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