United States Black Metal (USBM) is often treated with derision by Scandinavian second-wave aficionados, despite spawning genre-defining acts like Wolves in the Throne Room, Deafheaven or Leviathan. And that’s not even counting some of the long-running artists that somehow fly under the radar, even though their musical output is consistently of the highest standard. Take Black Funeral, for example, who have been putting out soul-searing, conceptual occult-tinged black metal since 1994 and whose 2016 Ankou and the Death of Fire was every bit as fresh, raw and engaging as their 1995 full-length debut, Vampyr – Throne of the Beast.

The latest release, The Dust and the Darkness, continues in this vein, marrying ambient soundscapes to black ‘n roll riffing that display a strong grasp of melody; the continued partnership between founding member Akhtya Nachttoter and Drowning the Light’s Azgorth Drakenhof is a fruitful one, with each member’s songwriting contributions complementing the other.

Exotic, chanted female vocals, tribal rhythms, menacing field recordings, high-gain tremolo-picked guitar melodies… and that’s all just in the first 30 seconds. The thematic content is also ambitious, spinning four tales of ancient underworld deities and their dwellings, but the soaring, Wagnerian bombast of the accompanying music is entirely appropriate.

Stream Black Funeral’s “Dankuis Daganzipas (Dark Earth)” here.

As a consequence, The Dust and the Darkness offers a short but stirring paean to these forgotten underworld figures, phrased in music that is at once primitive in its emotive delivery but highly sophisticated in its composition and arrangement. If you’re looking for black metal that’s as nostalgic as it is exciting, then The Dust and the Darkness is exactly what you need in your life.

The Dust and the Darkness Track Listing:

01. Dankuis Daganzipas (Dark Earth)
02. Alanni Goddess of the Underworld
03. Chemosh of the Dust and Darkness
04. Mistress of the Pit

Run Time: 16:11
Release Date: September 28, 2018
Record Label: Iron Bonehead Productions

This is Dayv. He writes stuff and makes being an aging goth cool again. Actually, nobody can do the latter, so let's just stick to him writing stuff. Predominantly about black metal, tattoos and other essential cultural necessities. He also makes pretty pictures, but that's just to pay the bills.