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Epochal - 100%

Felix 1666, July 6th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, No Fashion Records (Digipak)

Dark Funeral´s self titled EP was a promising prelude. So the next logical step was to strive for perfection on the following full-lengths. And lo and behold, "The Secrets of the Black Arts" marked a milestone in their development while "Vobiscum Satanas" was simply perfect. The Swedish brigade unleashed such a storm of black metal that most of the similar music making bands were endangered to be blown away by this elemental power. The combination of the vigorous and sinister production and the fast and furious compositions opened the possibility to have a very intensive acoustical experience. From the first second of the merciless opener "Ravenna Strigoi Mortii" you dived deeply into a world of impenetrable darkness where four Scandinavian demons incessantly haunted you. But the opener just marked the first of eight excellent tracks. Due to the overwhelming overall impression, it is not easy to highlight details. Nevertheless, let´s try it.

Dark Funeral delivered an enormous sound density without leaving the realistic possibility of withdrawal. The music embraced you violently. This was primarily a result of the awesome ambiance. Of course, they also created outstanding riffs, but they were not an end in themselves. They served to form the grim and threatening melody lines that were aggressive and atmospheric at the same time while being supported by the tight and flawless rhythm section. The demonic vocals also played their part in making this album outstanding. The title track was provided with a vocal performance that differed from the rest. The voice was far lower while offering a diabolic sprechgesang. Perhaps it was Satan himself, who knows? However, the title track was part of a raging triple strike that awaited the listener at the end. A lot of bands release albums where the last songs are significantly weaker than the first ones. But although "Ravenna Strigoi Mortii" could surely be considered as a fantastic opener, the greatest highlights were surprisingly concentrated at the end.

"The Black Winged Horde" was equipped with the frostiest guitar lines, accurate tempo changes and a more or less melodious solo that was contrasted by inhuman growls. As said above, the title track seemed to be inspired by Satan himself. Finally, "Ineffable King of Darkness" was a very fitting conclusion of the album in respect of its high speed rhythm and the increasingly insane screaming at the end. The guy with the sweet pseudonym Emperor Magus Caligula seemed to be close to collapsing. But I have to be honest this is precisely what I typically expect from a black metal artist. To express it in the words of Holy Moses, it is about "Strength Power Will Passion". Generally I also expect a well elaborated cover, but we cannot have it all. So what? The suboptimal cover was only of minor importance and it could be positively mentioned that the digipak offered also atmospheric pictures of forested ridges. Ultimately, the only thing that counts was and still is the phenomenal hyper-speed music. Back in 1998, only Marduk´s "Nightwing" achieved the level of "Vobiscum Satanas" in terms of Swedish black metal.

Vobiscum Satanas - 38%

Noctir, October 11th, 2011

After the recording of their debut album, The Secrets of the Black Arts, Dark Funeral underwent a complete overhaul. First, Themgoroth was replaced by Masse Broberg, now known as Emperor Magus Caligula. Equimanthorn was replaced on drums, by Alzazmon (Tomas Asklund). However, the change that forever crippled the band and left it as merely a shadow of what it once was had to be the departure of Blackmoon. Once his songwriting genius was removed from the equation, the band stagnated and it was very clear who the driving force had been. With a new line-up, Lord Ahriman returned to Abyss Studio in the autumn of 1997 and Vobiscum Satanas was born. It was released by No Fashion in April 1998.

Musically, this is almost a carbon-copy of the band's debut album. Unable to cope with Blackmoon's absence, it seems that Ahriman did his best to mimic the record that made Dark Funeral so popular in the first place, to the best of his abilities. And, truth be told, there are plenty of decent riffs to be found here. The first few songs are somewhat enjoyable, blasting through at an intense pace as cold, nocturnal tremolo riffs weave in and out. "Ravenna Strigoi Mortii" starts things out on a strong note but, by the middle of the album, the repetitive nature of the songwriting begins to wear thin. The material is weaker as well, unable to maintain the momentum built early on.

The production is much clearer than The Secrets of the Black Arts, which is one of the main differences between the two albums. The sense of rawness that existed on the first album is sacrificed for increased clarity, though it does not sound horribly overdone. It suits the music well enough, which utilizes a slightly less violent approach, anyway. The benefit of this is that the guitar riffs are not buried in the mix, as they were on the previous release, allowing the listener to truly hear all that is going on.

The drumming is still a problem, just like on the first album. Tomas Asklund continues what Equimanthorn started, with the overactive percussion that creates too much noise and detracts from the guitar riffs, which should be the primary focus. That said, he has never shown much proficiency for knowing how to best compliment the melodies, so one would be foolish to expect him to possess such wisdom near the beginning of his career.

One of the worst aspects of the album has to be the vocal performance. Masse completely altered his style and sounds nothing like he did on Hypocrisy's first two records, Penetralia and Osculum Obscenum. Of course, it is natural that he would employ a higher-pitched sound since he made the move from Death Metal to Black Metal, but his entire technique is utterly different in every way. His voice is very generic and sounds like most other vocalists of the period, almost like a weak imitation of Ihsahn, from Emperor. He ruins several of the songs by not allowing the music to breathe. Whether it is because he wrote too many lyrics or just the fact that his vocal patterns attempt to fill as much time as possible, his voice hardly seems to go away for even a few moments and it takes away from the guitar melodies.

Vobiscum Satanas is the result of a band that had become a caricature of itself. Had this been Dark Funeral's first album, without the foundation that was laid by the earlier releases, chances are that the band would not have existed long enough to make a second one. This record is a failure, epitomizing the words generic and mediocre, and demonstrates that without Blackmoon's creativity, Dark Funeral was but a pale shadow of what they once were. To hear the true continuation of this band's legacy, pick up Infernal's self-titled debut, featuring Blackmoon and Themgoroth. As for this atrocity, avoid it and steer clear of the albums that follow.

Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com

Dark Funeral/Vobiscum Satanas - 95%

MethylinInfo, December 7th, 2008

Wow, I don't think that it gets more evil than this! "Vobiscum Satanas" is an utter abomination to say the least. There's so much on these 8 tracks which are filled with lyrics that pretty much tackle Satanism entirely. This is black metal played in it's most extreme form. What else to say about this release of a pure holocaust! Featured here on this lineup is Emperor Magus Caligula on vocals/bass, Lord Ahriman on guitars, Typhos on guitars and Alzazmon on drums. They have gone through several lineup changes over the years but that hasn't stopped them from producing black metal to its mightiest extreme. It's a shame that this is only a little bit over 35 minutes in length.

The music itself features guitars playing at utterly spell bounding tempos most of the whole way through this release. Not too much variety there but that doesn't take away from the power the album exhibits. Also, the guitars on this release were tuned down to E-Flat which is the tuning they have always used since their first release "The Secret Of The Black Arts." The blast beating drums is featured on this entire release except for a few slower tempos but not that many. Also, some drums that contain fast double bass but it isn't prevalent throughout this whole release. The guitars contain tremolo picking almost through every track. It doesn't really change much here because I think their focus was to pound out some seriously evil sounds. They succeeded too by using minor chord progressions all throughout the album! This is about as dark as it gets. Since it was my first Dark Funeral release I'd have to say it was quite amazing.

This was a re-released version of this album which contains 4 bonus tracks of them playing these songs live. Vocal wise Emperor Magus Caligula exhibits some pretty extreme high end screaming which is what's featured almost entirely throughout this whole release. There are some tracks with him just bellowing some low end blasphemous lyrics. This is featured on the title track as well as a few other tracks as well. I can't say that I'm really into the lyrics but nevertheless Dark Funeral has really caught my ear. The overall production, mixing, and engineering is definitely spell binding. This is an earlier release too and it simply dominates. I couldn't get into the live tracks though I didn't really care for the sound quality. But I don't really like live tracks anyway. The fact that I got the re-released version is ok nevertheless.

For me, all of the tracks were well composed. Though I like "Enriched By Evil" and the title track the most. But like I said, there weren't any tracks on here that I disliked. This is a pure Satanic black metal release. The fact that they didn't use keyboards to make this more chilling was really awesome. It was the vocals, guitar and overall sound plus lyrics which achieved their success in making it captivating. The sound quality is good as well though I couldn't really get into the live versions of these songs. Not that they're bad I just can't get into any bands that have live tracks on their album. All 8 tracks on this are good. But like I said, I don't like live tracks to be totally honest.

May Satan Be With You... - 89%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, November 17th, 2008

The Dark Funeral’s return after The Secrets Of The Black Arts album has the name of Vobiscum Satanas and we are ready to be overwhelmed and destroyed by another massive piece of fast black metal. One of the main characteristics of their style is the addition of dark but distinctive “melodic” lines under the fast paces in order to transform the songs in something more recognizable and catchy if we want, but always black metal. For this they use some tremolo picking parts over the furious and restless open chords riffs that give the right atmosphere of total darkness and death.

The first track is among the most famous ones from this band. “Ravenna Strigoi Mortii” is immediately fast with blast beats and hyper cold riffs. The unmistakable apocalyptic atmosphere is always present and even the more mid-paced, short sections are full of riffs and darkness. The vocals are scary, screamed and they follow that gloom that lies on these tracks. The production is better than the one on the first album and now the instruments have acquired even more power. The drums and the guitars reign supreme over this album and that’s normal.

The lyrics are always about Satanism and occult stuff to complete a scenario of pure malignance and darkness. There’s no too much variation among these tracks in terms of structure because they are mostly fast with few stops to make the drummer relax a bit and change patterns. Albums like this one are not for fancy boys and if you expect innovations, progressive parts or I don’t know what, well, you are completely wrong. The riffs are cold as ice; a sort of reverb is utilized to create a sense of profundity to the sound and it’s like being in a dark abyss surrounded by this black music in a vortex that brings you down.

“Enriched by Evil” is very good in some parts with the main riff because it shows also a hint of melody in a sea of brutality where the black waves are for the guitars and the cold wind is for the drums. “Thy Legions Come” is even more pissed-off than the rest and has another great, main riff.
The growls parts are perfect once again to add more darkness and variety to the sound, while the distant, icy riffs of “Evil Prevail” welcome us. This time the tempo changes are more evident and the guitars show arpeggios on the distorted sounds. “Slava Satan” is again concentrated on the gloom overtures and the fast restarts. It’s a well-balanced song that takes the influences both from the violence and the dark “atmosphere”.

“The Black Winged Horde” takes again the violent, fast direction. The main riff is good again but the other parts are less memorable. A special credit here should be given to the vocal parts because they are incredibly screamed and evil. The title track is a quite long, massive example of not so fast black metal with the always present and welcome breaks. The vocals here are truly scary because they switch of tonalities in many parts, so they reach also whispered ones. Here there’s a heavier sense for the atmosphere and the murkiness. The last “Ineffable King of Darkness” is another quite famous track by this band and settles on fast paces to end this album with brutality.

All in all, this is a very good follow-up by a truly violent band. Albums like this one are not full of strange, smart or complex elements. Here it’s all about the pure violence and it can take form of fast paces or sudden, dark and more “atmospheric” breaks. The main word is “darkness” and Satan is pleased.