Lord Ahriman, with guitarist Blackmoon (Real Name: David Parland), united in 1993 with one goal: "to create the darkest and most evil music possible", and after sampling many musicians, they finally found Themgoroth and Draugen to join them in their new band, Dark Funeral. In May of 1994, the band released their self-titled, self-financed debut four track mini-CD (Hellspawn Records' subsequently re-released it). The mini-CD was warmly received, and it didn't take long before Dark Funeral was considered a leading Black Metal act. Shortly after, they would play their first gig at the Luse Lottes pub in Oslow, Norway. Draugen, however, left the band, to be replaced by Equimanthorn.
The band then signed to 'No Fashion Records' in the summer of 1994, and in January 1996, they released their premier full-length album The Secrets of The Black Arts; a video would soon follow; it too was warmly received. The first 5,000 copies was released as "digi-pack", and sold quickly; it was described as containing "Satanic mayhem", utilizing 11 tracks of brutal riffs, deep blood curdling melodies mixed with eerie classical themes and played at a furious speed.
As it would happen, the fun was short lived for there would me more membership changes with Themgoroth and Equimanthorn leaving, and replaced by Emperor Magus Caligula (Real Name: Magnus Masse Broberg; ex-Votary/ex-Hypocrisy; vocals) and Alzazmon (Real Name: Tomas Asklund; drums). Shortly later, founder Blackmoon would also leave to be replaced by Typhos (Real Name: Henke Ekeroth; guitar). Finally they found a line-up they would like, at least for a time, for they soon after recorded Vobiscum Satanas in July of 1998. The recording line-up now consisted of: Lord Ahriman (guitar), Emperor Magus Caligula (bass/vocals), Alzazmon (Real Name: Tomas Asklund; drums) and Typhos (Real Name: Henke Ekeroth; guitar). With the new line-up the band aggressively toured throughout Europe. During this tour, dubbed The Satanic War Tour, they were supported by the Italian act Necromass. It was on this tour that they introduced their stage style by playing painted like demons, wearing spikes and rivets, and covered with blood while wielding ancient looking weapons; the show also included fire-breathing, as well as two huge inverted crosses with impaled pig heads at the front of the stage, which by the end of the show they would slaughter.
By March 1997 they became one of the most controversial bands in the genre, so they cashed in by completing their second Satanic War Tour throughout Europe. This time they where supported by Bal-Sagoth and Ancient. A new addition to their stage-act during this tour was the introduction of a destruction ritual, performed live by the band. They also made their first U.S. appearance during Halloween of 1997 by attending the Expo Of The Extreme in Chicago, followed by a brief tour of Northern states dubbed The American Satanic Crusade Tour, with Usurper (Chicago) as supporting act. Shortly after this tour, in February 1998, they finally released Vobiscum Satanas, widely considered a landmark recording for this band.
Dominion (Real Name: Matti Mäkelä) joined as a session bass player, which would become a permanent arrangement after the Swedish Hultsfreds festival, when Typhos was given the boot. Dominion played second guitar (he originally played lead guitar) while Caligula reverted to both bass and vocals. And, as if that weren't enough, just before the "Bleed For Satan" European tour with Cannibal Corpse and Infernal Majesty, Alazazmon left and Gaahnfaust (Real Name: Robert Lundin) took his place. Several more tours would follow, including one in Mexico, as well as a late 1998 tour, including a very successful European one with Dimmu Borgir. They squeezed off a well done disc of cover tracks named Teach Your Children To Worship Satan (2000), featuring King Diamond`s The Trial, Slayer's Dead Skin Mask, Sodom's Remember The Fallen and Mayhem's Pagan Fears as well as a new track of their own An Apprentice Of Satan. Defleshed (Real Name: Matte Modin; taking his handle from his other outfit) also joined at this time as a permanent member.
In 2000 a re-release of their early works was issued, dubbed In The Sign..., and another trip to North America, for the first time to include a couple of selected cities in Canada, including Toronto, was completed. The Wacken Open Air Festival in Europe would follow.
Around this time, Electric Hellfire Club, Acheron, Incantation and Lord Ahriman formed a side project called Wolfen Society, while Caligula and Dominion worked together on the logically named Dominion Caligula, who's self-titled debut was an incredible example of how far Black Metal had evolved!
The release of their 2001 opus, Diabolis Interium, showed incredible promise with its "hymn of darkness" gracing with tracks like Goddess Of Sodomy. The disc featured a general slowing down of their sound to allow a backdrop of mood to wash over. It also featured the Teach Children To Worship Satan track from the same titled EP.
But after the subsequent support tour, things got less rosy in 'hell' from problems with the record label, specifically the North American licensee, caused a riff and when the accusations of Breach Of Contract on the part of the label made it through the system, Dark Funeral would part their company; their deal with local label MNW/No Fashion Records' would also fall 2 years later. But the bad news continued right along when guitarist Dominion, who had been engaging in side-projects, could no longer dedicate himself to Dark Funeral and left. His position would be filled by Chaq Mol (ex-Hexenhaus/ex-Face Down/ex-Necronancy/and one of the two member Death act Mordichrist) and after his debut at the 2003 Wacken Open Air festival and subsequent tour of South America a live album of the experience arrived in the form of De Profundis Clamavi Ad Te Domine (2004; live) now on Regain Records' as a one-off deal. Dark Funeral then partnered with Goatwhore and Zyklon for the Extreme The Dojo Volume 9 Japanese gigs in January of 2004 before resuming their touring with a spate of Mexican dates and a festival appearance at the Spanish Piorno Rock in February with Sepultura, Saxon, Destruction, Lacuna Coil among many others before hooking up with Defleshed (the band) for a short burst of Italian dates.
Their first album with Earsplit Records would be Attera Totus Sanctus (2005), followed by a tour in January/February 2007 that saw them go to Canada and the USA.
Soon after that North America tour with Enslaved, in April of that year, the band had planned an Eastern European tour to Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic states. It was around this time that Matte Modin had alleged that he had an infection in his arm, and could not participate on the Eastern European tour. The next incident happened after returning from the Metalferry show in Sweden where Matte is alleged to have announced to the rest of the band that he couldn't go to the Baltic states because it was his son's birthday. Which story was the right one? Dark Funeral soon realized Matte Modin's motives that during the time of the tour, he had plans to perform with the punk band Raised Fist instead! Consequently, the upcoming tour was cancelled, and Matte Modin was ejected from the band. In June 2007, the band announced Nils Fjellström, (aka: Dominator; also of Aeon and Sanctification), was to be the new drummer.
The band toured North America again in Autumn 2007, and re-issued their first three albums, each with a bonus disc of material. In the autumn seasons of 2007 and 2008, the band released Attera Orbis Terrarum - Part I and Attera Orbis Terrarum - Part II video albums respectively.
On 24 October 2008, it was announced that the Supreme Court of Sweden had ruled in favour of Dark Funeral in their separation dispute with 'MNW/No Fashion Records'.
After several shows promoting the album, the band released their fifth studio album in 2009, Angelus Exuro pro Eternus. They also shot a controversial music video for the track My Funeral".
The latter half of 2010 saw the band consisting of only Ahriman and Chaq Mol on guitars, following the departure of Emperor Magus Caligula in July 2010, followed by and B-Force and Dominator in the coming months. Caligula's departure was the most striking since he had been a member of the band for fifteen years as vocalist and lyricist; spending the longest time in the band, aside from Ahriman. Caligula planned to be married and settle down. B-Force's departure was also of his own choice. Ahriman used this time to work on new material, in the absence of a full line-up for live performances and studio recording.
On June 30, 2011, Dark Funeral announced that Nachtgarm of Negator is the new vocalist, a week after Dominator returned to the band. On July 27, 2011, Zornheym became the band's new bassist.
In late 2012, the band parted ways with Nachtgarm, who returned to Negator. Zornheym exited the band in 2014.
Where Shadows Forever Reign would follow in 2016.
Dark Funeral is a band that convinced many people that so-called Black Metal could be performed well and was an entertaining pass-time. Long after the style fades from being "the latest thing", Dark Funeral will be remembered for their mastery of it.
Footnote: Daimon (Real Name: Richard Cabeza) played bass on some tour slots, likewise for Kenth Philipson (a.k.a. Lord K).
I met Dark Funeral, who once toured on the same bill as my cousin Chris' band (Infernal Majesty), at the Opera House bar in Toronto on Jan. 13, 2007 back stage. I enjoyed the visit and felt at home with them very quickly.