Dark Funeral is a Swedish black metal band from Stockholm, founded by guitarists Blackmoon and Lord Ahriman in 1993. They emerged during the second wave of black metal.
Their lyrical themes have traditionally pertained to Satanism and anti-Christianity. Certain past and present members including Blackmoon, Ahriman, Caligula and Chaq Mol have each declared an affinity for Satanism, with Ahriman and Caligula notably being practitioners of LaVeyan Satanism. In their earlier years, their lyrical themes usually revolved specifically around depictions of Hell and Satan. After Emperor Magus Caligula joined the band, their lyrics came to focus more on blasphemy and anti-Christian rhetoric, although there have been several exceptions to this.
The group have released six full-length albums and are one of the most prominent acts in the Swedish black metal scene.
In 1993, guitarists David Parland, also known as Blackmoon, and Mikael Svanberg, also known as Lord Ahriman, established Dark Funeral, recruiting Paul Mäkitalo, also known as Themgoroth, formerly of the band Scum, as bassist and vocalist, and Joel Andersson, also known as Draugen, shortly thereafter. In January 1994, Dark Funeral recorded their self-titled EP at Unisound Studio with Dan Swanö of Edge of Sanity fame as producer, subsequently being released on 4 May, 1994. That same day, Dark Funeral performed their first gig at Luse Lottes Pub in Oslo, Norway, alongside bands such as fellow live debutees Gorgoroth, and Marduk, who were also performing their first show abroad. Draugen departed Dark Funeral following the EP’s recording, being replaced by Equimanthorn.
In 1995, Dark Funeral signed with No Fashion Records, subsequently composing songs in anticipation for their debut full-length album. Initially, the band recorded several tracks that would appear on The Secrets of the Black Arts at said Unisound Studio with Swanö as producer, but opted to re-record the album with Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy fame at The Abyss Studio, composing a further track, “When Angels Forever Die”, and incorporating a cover of Von’s “Satanic Blood”, for their debut album. Concerning the band’s decision to re-record their debut album, within a 2009 interview with Rites of the Black Moon Webzine, Blackmoon elaborated that the initial recordings at Unisound Studio suffered from a sonic flatness, partly due to Swanö’s exhaustion and to the quality of new recording gear that Swanö had recently acquired. Shortly after recording their album at The Abyss, Dark Funeral played their first festival gig, Under the Black Sun I, in Berlin. A few weeks prior to this gig Emperor Magus Caligula (Magnus ‘Masse’ Broberg, the original vocalist of Hypocrisy) replaced Themgoroth, becoming a permanent member during the summer of 1995. Concerning the factors underlying Themgoroth’s departure, Blackmoon elucidated that Themgoroth was unable to fulfil the quality the band expected within their live performances. On 28 January 1996, The Secrets of the Black Arts was released, with the album thence being licensed to Metal Blade in North America and Mystic Productions in Poland. Equimanthorn was soon replaced by Alzazmon, later renowned for his work with Dissection and Gorgoroth. The line-up of Emperor Magus Caligula, Lord Ahriman, Alzazmon and Blackmoon recorded their versions of Bathory’s “Call from the Grave” and “Equimanthorn” for the Bathory tribute In Conspiracy with Satan. (These also appeared later re-mastered for the re-titled re-release of the band’s debut In the Sign…). Blackmoon departed Dark Funeral at the end of 1996, citing conflict with Lord Ahriman as the primary instigator for his decision to depart. Together with Necromass, the band thence embarked on the Satanic War Tour I throughout Europe.