Review Summary: More raw, dark, ....and diverse? Yeah, that's right....Soak in the goodness
I have been anticipating this album for quite some time now, (immediately beginning from their release of "Attera Totus Sanctus"), and I must say, for fans of this style of Black Metal: They DID NOT dissapoint, in any real sort of sense.
It's a good change from the ballistically fast "Attera Totus Sanctus", having selective songs that are purposefully slowed down. This is not to say that this necessarily takes away from their general musical direction OR their lyrical direction at all; if nothing else simply preps one for a darker listening experience, only to be suprised that when the aforementioned songs kick in to full speed, but suprisingly during which they seem to no longer abuse the blast beat that they are so notorious for.... Keeping in mind that being Dark Funeral, they DO still utilize the blast beat to an almost annoying end. But those notions are almost immediately dismissed when you begin to pay attention and realise how on-time they are AND not to mention keeping such great intensity while doing so at an insanely fast pace.
The guitar work is immediately recognizable as Dark Funeral upon first listen, having their signature Tremolo-Chords, which, for an experienced Dark Funeral listener can mean that this may come off as sounding as though it would be a boring and predictable listen; This is not so, as I can tell you (listening to it as I type this), this album came as a QUICK suprise through my first listen: Personally being most impressed right off the bat with 3 things:
Caligula's vocals - Much more raw and cold sounding than on prior records, making the entire listening experience much more engaging and somewhat chilling. As with one noted track "Demons of Five", Caligula takes an almost entirely new approach with the slower down-tempo beats and begins using rather impressively deep growls, seeming to emulate the Devil himself. Then starting from around the middle of the track goes back to the 'olde familiare' with the razor-sharp and crisp highs.
Guitar-Work in General - As stated before, predictable in that it is obviously Dark Funeral after the first 5 seconds, but Leads are FAR better and general composition is much darker and solid sounding. (i.e. They finally started working towards the band they have the potential to be). As with stated in the vocal part above ^^^, the guitar work on "Demons of Five" is notably impressive, having somewhat drony, almost melancholy, wailing leads going on in the background, over the dissonant and insanely reverbish rhythm riffs.
Drum-Work - Drums in general are mixed much better this time around, you can actually HEAR his blast beats and his Bass Head. He has obviously been practicing a lot since "Attera Totus Sanctus" because this time around when he gets fast, he gets REALLY fast. His hand-work is much more precise and thought-out, giving the overall feel of the album a much more structured sound. And his drum patterns and beats dont become somewhat repettitive and therefore boring, as all-too-many Black Metal albums seem to succumb to. This aside, I must admit his blast beats are quite impressive, being so well in-time and solid sounding, that his work could easily be passed off as a very expensive drum machine.
Overall: This album is very impressive from Dark Funeral. Very diverse (not exactly something they splurge on) for a very raw Black Metal band. But it would seem it was time for a change of pace for the Black Metal Titans, thankfully they did not fail to deliver. This is at present my 4th time listening to it without turning it off, which is a difficult thing for me to do, as I tend to get bored with music quickly.
I have to say I'm at the very least impressed with the approach they took with this album;
Not as straight forward and in-your-face as "Attera Totus Sanctus", but this album has a different quality that "Attera..." does not have: Subtlety. Yeah, I know - Also something Dark Funeral is not known for. But trust me on this one; "Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus" is indeed SOMEWHAT more subtle, but do not be fooled - They still quite easily retain the intensity and brutality they have always commanded, they just dont throw it up directly in your face as much as they did previously. This album is more subtle, but in that fact they have made it equally if not MORE evil and sadistic than anything they have EVER done before. This album makes you think. Flat out. It's an intelligent album if can look at it like that, one that retains great amounts of time and effort and thought in it's creation, and therefore demands great thought, consideration, and introspection (if you will) from the listener.
In my opinion: 4.5/5 - Not perfect, as I said before, the only real downside on this album is the guitar work and that is only in RARE parts in perhaps 1 or 2 songs at the most, where it is so painfully obvious that you are listening to Dark Funeral (their sound is literally unmistakable and has therefore become predictable in that sense). But honestly, other than that - This album is simply spectacular. - Raw, Fast, Relentless, Evil, and equally Heavy (which is something I've noticed is stangely not often said in the Black Metal world). I would recommend this to ANY fan of Black Metal in general, and especially the already DieHardened-fans of Dark Funeral, since for them, could either come across as the best Black Metal album of the Year, or a Blasphemous Shat-Encrusted Dirge upon the music scene.........which would be difficult for me to grasp if the latter were true.