Words: Will Younger

Amidst the ever-growing legions of darkness that is the evolving Black Metal scene,
spawned in the heart of the Scandinavian Metal underground, Dark Funeral has emerged as one of the prodigal offspring of a new age of extreme modern Black Metal. From their debut EP ‘Dark Funeral,’ the band has been reinventing Black Metal in a new direction that has definitely been reaffirmed with their latest release ‘Where Shadows Forever Reign,’ a dark, mystifying array of black music that aches to be played on repeat. Coming to Australia in September, their third visit to our country, Dark Funeral will undoubtedly be showcasing their latest onslaught with supporting acts Immolation, Abramelin, Christ Dismembered and Reaper at Direct Underground Fest 2019.

As the band’s only remaining original member, the honour of speaking with Lord Ahriman was not lost on me, nor was the excitement of what was to be unveiled in our discussion. Calling Lord Ahriman in the early hours of a Tuesday morning, our conversation began: How do you find the Australian crowds compare to international crowds?

“As far as I can remember, Australia has always had really good shows for us, I mean
there’s always some difference in different countries. Like South America, they’re really energetic and absolutely crazy, and it’s obviously the same feeling and reaction all over the place nowadays. People are going really crazy at the shows everywhere though, the scene has got new fire. There’s definitely a newer and hungrier generation coming into the scene and I think people are more into this now than they’ll be in say a couple of years’ time.”

Was that one of the reasons for recording your live album in South America,
because the energy was higher there?

“Not really, that was because we had an opportunity to record on that tour and
we just said, ‘Okay! Let’s do it!’ We had no idea what to expect from that tour, but we were quite overwhelmed when it was such a massive show. The crowds were just completely wild. We had no idea what to expect before that tour, but I’m glad we recorded it, because it’s a great memory to keep!

Speaking of releases, it’s been three years since your last release, plans to release
anything new? I’ve heard that this year’s tour interrupted your plans to record.

“All this touring this year has put the record on hold, the original idea was that we
were going to stop touring at the end of last year and focus on our new record – but then we just got all these new offers, these great tour offers came in and we felt like there’s still lots parts of the world we haven’t brought our latest record to. So we said ‘Okay, let’s go with the flow and see where it will take us,’ and as a result we’ve been pretty busy touring this year.”

So, is there much writing that happens on the road?

“I can’t write on the road, I really have to disappear into my own world. When I’m all
by myself, then I can write, I can’t write with lots of things going on.

“When I’m on tour I like to focus on one thing at a time, I mean I’m still taking care of so many things for the band, but when I’m on tour, I like to focus on the shows and try to be in good shape, and generally I don’t try to do much more than that.

“But yeah, I have started writing, and we have a month or two after this tour, so I’m going to continue to see if I can come up with some more ideas during that time. We have some touring in December, then after that, at the beginning of next year, I really need to just disappear from planet earth and go on vacation. Get away from big city life and really get in my own headspace. You know, I’ve had quick vacations here and there, but it’s mainly been big city vacations and I feel like I really need to go somewhere where there are no cities, and be myself, by myself.”

Do you have a favourite place in mind?

“I have a place in mind where I’m going to go, and its going to be on the other
side of the planet – not Australia – but I’m going to a distant place. I’m definitely going to do a vacation of Australia one day, that’s for sure, but this time, as I said, I need to go from big city life and just try to relax.

“So next year is going to start with that, and hopefully it doesn’t become too busy with touring so I can just focus on writing. That’s the plan at least.”

‘Where Shadows Forever Reign’ definitely comes across as more of a personally
written album. Lyrically, is there an element of personal experience that goes into your songs?

“Yeah! I don’t know if you’ve read it somewhere before, but there are two songs that
are really personal to me on that record. But I guess the last couple of records I’ve brought in a more personal input. I like to continue to mix my personal side and also mix it with the Satanic side, I guess. I think the music turns out more honest, or deeper that way. It’s easy to go too deep or too personal when I write music, but I still think that’s where I want to go, and you now, music has to be honest, and I get more out of it myself when I am more personally involved. It’s a kind of outlet of what’s going on inside of me when I write music this way. So the music has definitely got more personal and deep over the years.

“But as I say, two songs that really portray that in the last record are As I Ascend and Temple of Ahriman. It really explains two differing states of mind when I was trying to get into writing that record. Both the music and lyrics really represent me at the time.

“The song As I Ascend tells a story of basically what I was going through, and what I felt over those years, between the records and how I came back to life I guess.

“As for Temple of Ahriman, that song represents more of the angry side of me. You know, sometimes you just get pissed off at everything, and I kind of mixed that with old age and personal things, as well as the demon Ahriman and my state of mind at the time and kind of combined that into one.”

Kind of an amalgamation of the two personas?

“Exactly, so yeah, those two songs really tells a lot about me and how the record came about.”

As you’re doing a lot of touring, who are your favourite bands to tour with?

Well there’s this one band, it’s a long time since we’ve toured together, in the
early days we were touring a lot with Cannibal Corpse, and we’re still really good friends, and both bands have always hoped to get back on the road together. But unfortunately, there’s always the business side of things. It’s really difficult, there’s always lots of people who make the snap decisions, decide over us. It doesn’t matter really, most of the time the fans might not understand, that even if bands really want to tour together, there’s lots of businesspeople on the other side that think differently, and only want one thing.

“One of the most boring things I always hear when we were trying to put together a decent tour package together is – and I always suggest that I want a decent mix of extreme Metal, not just Black Metal on tours – but most times I get the same answer. ‘Well, the promoter wants a Black Metal package,’ which is so fucking annoying, trust me,” he laughs. “So sometimes – well most of the time – you just have to compromise on that.”

Is there one band you would like to tour with that you haven’t toured with so far?

“Well yeah, I mean there are loads of bands, and I know lots of bands, and we are
always talking to them and we say, ‘We should definitely do some tours with them,’ but every time you meet new bands, it comes up as, ‘Fuck, we should do some shows together,’ but you know, it’s always the business side of things that just makes is difficult.

“But if I could decide myself, I would always bring back one of the earlier tours we did, which everyone says is just not possible now, but looking at Knotfest that is going on now in the US, it’s just a great mix of extreme Metal bands, and that’s what I’d want to do.”

Your “Red Era” of records, were the meant as a trilogy?

“Well artwork-wise it was a trilogy, not lyric-wise or anything, but the artwork is
definitely a trilogy. It starts with ‘Diabolis Interium,’ which portrayed a human transforming into a beast, basically where the transformation from man to demon had just started. ‘Attera Totus Sanctus’ is the continuation of this process where he is half beast, half human, and ‘Angelus Exuro pro Eternus’ is where he finally became full demon and took over the world. That’s the concept of those three artworks in a simple explanation.”