_Attera Totus Sanctus_ -- now there was a black metal record worth more than its weight in gold. A masterclass in marrying nigh on claustrophobic levels of misanthropic ambience with blisteringly intense sonic force, Dark Funeral's last outing served to make many of their naysayers (myself included) sit at attention.
Having kept us in limbo for the better part of four years, the Swedish kvlt collective return; problem is that their latest collection is often as limp as the Matt Zane skinflick they cameoed in recently. Both "The Birth of the Vampiir" and "Stigmata" amble along aimlessly, despite being delivered at 200 BPM, their downfall belied by a nagging feeling that Dark Funeral have revisited more than a few riffs from their back catalogue. When "My Funeral" slams on the brakes, it doesn't get much better, and pulsing introduction aside, it's yet another collection of dog-tired riffs that seem as redundant as its lyrical preoccupation with suicide.
It's really only on the fantastic "Declaration of Hate" that Dark Funeral appear to well and truly have their shit together. Still not a hundred miles off their traditional blueprint, it has copious amounts of the edge which is sorely lacking elsewhere on this record, and which we'd hope the band won't take another four years to rediscover.