Formed at a time when the Scandinavian metal scene was becoming flooded with bands, all striving for "true" rather than "trend" status amongst fans and peers, Sweden's Dark Funeral emerged as one of the most exciting groups in the genre. Like most artists in the early black metal scene, Dark Funeral's music was raw and powerful with a strong lyrical emphasis on Satanic imagery and anti-Christian themes. When many of their peers were starting to rely on the use of keyboards to distinguish their "evil" sound, Dark Funeral stuck to the roots of metal, avoiding synthesizers.
In 1993, guitarists Lord Ahriman and Blackmoon recruited fellow Swedes Themgoroth (bass) and Draugen (drums) to form the first incarnation of Dark Funeral. Together they recorded an EP simply entitled Dark Funeral, which established them as a one of the leading black metal bands of the time. No Fashion Records signed the band in 1994 and after replacing Draugen with drummer Equimanthorn -- like most black metalers he too lacked a last name -- they went into the infamous Abyss studios to start work on their next project. It wasn't until 1996 that their second release, Secrets of the Black Arts, reached their fans. 1996 was a big year for Dark Funeral. Secrets turned out to be a major seller by black metal standards, but the band suffered a major lineup change that would leave Ahriman as the only original member. So with Lord Ahriman and his new band -- Emperor Magus Caligula (bass/vocals), Alzazmon (drums), and Typhos (guitar) -- they embarked on a European tour, their first as a headlining act. Their stage act became quite a performance. They would emerge covered in blood and corpse paint while wearing long spikes and rivets and carrying ancient weapons. The shows also included a fire-breathing Emperor Caligula and pigs' heads impaled upon upside-down crosses -- kind of a low-budget Kiss concert. In 1998, No Fashion released their second full-length album, Vobiscum Satanas. The band then brought their stage show to the U.S. for the first of two tours, supported by Metal Blade records, who released Secrets of the Black Arts and Vobiscum Satanas domestically. By 2000 the band saw more changes in the lineup, with Dominion taking a vacant guitar spot and the position of drummer becoming a rotating door. The EP Teach Your Children to Worship Satan was released just before the band was signed to Necropolis Records. In 2000, Caligula and Dominion also released an album by their side project band, Dominion Caligula, for No Fashion Records. ~ Kevin Odle