By Jonathan Smith
The latest effort from Swedish black metal veterans Dark Funeral continues the band’s tradition of brutal assaults on the ears of its listeners and fans. While Angelus Exuro pro Eternus has its strong points and memorable moments, it offers little to differentiate itself from the band’s back catalogue and never quite develops its own identity. The proper elements are all here — prominent blast-beats and a constant buzzing barrage of guitars that embody the heft of the Swedish sound. Perhaps that’s what’s wrong with too many of the songs from the album. They’re what one expects and nothing more, and thus their particulars are too easily forgotten when the album ends even after repeated listens. However, what is not easily forgotten is Emperor Magus Caligula’s bringing his unique style of throat-throttling screams back to the table with full vigor — the energy he unleashes here is fantastic. “Stigmata” is by far one of the stand-out tracks on the album, and it’s largely due to Caligula’s performance. Another element that pushes the song to the top of the pile is the prominent guitar leads that hang in the air, backing the tortured vocals before everything returns to a refrain of the main chorus. “ My Funeral” is one of the album’s more, um, “catchier” tracks. It’s made to be accompanied by the collective chorus of hoarse and out-of-tune voices that will inevitably arise during future live performances. It’s ultimately on stage that chosen cuts from Angelus Exuro pro Eternus will spread their skeletal wings, destined to become enshrined in Dark Funeral’s cerebral collection of metal hymns.