It's never easy replacing a vocalist in an established band. Emperor Magus Caligula left DARK FUNERAL after 2009's "Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus". Century Media signed the band as Negator's Nachtgarm took over as vocalist. However, after a tour or two, he also left. Finally, six years after the last album, "Where Shadows Forever Reign" emerged featuring new vocalist Heljarmadr. Now, you might think the band would simply be plodding on and not knowing when to quit. However, Heljarmadr and company think otherwise. Album opener 'Unchain My Soul' proves any naysayers wrong. You want classic black metal? This guy crawls out of the shadows and delivers a track of pure angst. It harkens back to the days of "The Secrets Of The Black Arts" while still feeling fresh and new. 'As One We Shall Conguer' shoves a fist full of grime and torment into the faces of any who listen. From high screeches to low murmurs, Heljarmadr lets us know he means business. And Lord Ahriman's guitars are always melodic, powerful and atmospheric. While last album "Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus" seemed sped up and frenzied, "Where Shadows Forever Reign" seems more sure of itself. The tracks breathe, inhaling and exhaling in perfect unison, reminding us why we love black metal. 'Beast Above man' continues the dark journey. 'As I Ascend', with it's tolling bell and mesmerizing guitar buildup bleeds into our ears as the vocals cry "I roamed the night and winding shadows led me home." Melancholy and despair fill this track completely. Later tracks such as 'The Eternal Eclipse' burst through with a controlled energy permeating throughout, always ready to break free but with just enough restraint to keep it tightly in a rhythm of bliss. 'Nail Them To The Cross' is pure DARK FUNERAL at its finest. You want blasphemy? You've got it. From a band who released "Teach Children To Worship Satan", you can expect no less.
The funny thing is...I actually like "Where Shadows Forever reign" more than the past few albums. There seems to be a renewed energy to the band...more inspired songwriting to herald in the new vocalist. Yes, he kicks ass. And hopefully he's here to stay.