Black Funeral - _Empire of Blood_
(Full Moon Prod., 1998)
by: Henry Akeley (9 out of 10)
AACCKK!! Yes!! This is easily some of the BEST really raw and ultra-ghastly black metal that I have ever heard. I like this better than the mighty Sort Vokter (!!), better than Ildjarn, better even than the Legions Noires bands from France. This band's style is guaranteed to totally alienate the vast majority of listeners, but if you have a taste for the uniquely creepy ambience which severely unrefined black metal can dredge up, then I encourage you to track this down. It's wild music, atmospherically pregnant with the void; you listen to this and marvel that human beings produced something that sounds so far gone. In addition to the sheer weirdness of it all, listening is especially enjoyable on two levels. The most immediately apparent factor is the basement-quality sound. As evidenced by the highly boring nature of all the "sophisticated" style-pirates who play a polished-up version of black metal, highly impure production is by far the superior vehicle for this style, and Black Funeral does a great job with it. (Think of the production on the Emperor/Enslaved split for a good comparison.) But far more important in the long run are the songs themselves -- unformulaic, unearthly constructions crawling with all these weirdly sinister little melodies that irresistibly worm their way into your brain. But be warned!! The songs will sound awfully familiar if you've got the first Black Funeral CD, because six of the tracks on _Empire of Blood_ are re-recorded versions of songs from the debut, though the titles and lyrics have been changed. (I only have a promo version of the CD, so I don't know if the full packaging indicates this or not.) Anyway, I always thought those old songs were cool, and I think the new versions offer enough enhancement to make the repetition quite worthwhile. The sound this time is more spacious, hazier, and stranger, with incredibly abstracted, distorted howling vocals -- so while the debut was a classic of grim, raw black metal, this re-recording is a classic of very ambient grim, raw black metal. Also included are three demo tracks from 1993 -- not quite as good as the new material, but pleasantly ripping all the same. Check out the artwork, too: the calligraphy is just amazing. Killer all around. This should be destined for serious cult status.

(article published 10/3/1998)

8/12/1999 A Cantwell 1 Black Funeral - Moon of Characith
5/10/1996 S Hoeltzel 7 Black Funeral - Vampyr - Throne of the Beast
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