The third Dark Funeral is as much a continuation as it is a regression. The album is but a carbon-copy of the vastly superior “Vobiscum Satanas”. “Diabolis Interium” was where Dark Funeral started its gradual descent into parody, and its valiant attempts to come across as misanthropic as possible only end up pushing them into comedic territory. Outside of a glossier production “Diabolis Interium” is as regressive as its, stronger but no less artistically vacuous, predecessor.
A Dark Funeral album wouldn’t be complete without the requisite line-up changes. “Diabolis Interium” was the recording debut of drummer Matte Modin with Dark Funeral, and the only to feature second guitarist Matti Mäkelä. It was the last album to have Bröberg pulling double duty as bass guitarist. The album was penned in its entirety by sole founding member Mikael Svanberg. Of the two major Swedish black metal units Marduk would ultimately prove the most prolific and resilient.
“Diabolis Interium” is consistent in style with the preceding album. Svanberg’s melodic sensibility is true to his Swedish heritage but his riffs remain as limited and stagnant as it had always been. Keeping up with the tradition of Latin album titles “Diabolis Interium” translates to “Devil Within”. Where in the past Dark Funeral was at least mildly interesting because of its highly misanthropic lyrics, here they seem to become increasingly toothless. Various aspects of the album conspired against the band, the production and goofy artwork most prominently among them.
The abstract nature of the album title would allow for interesting explorations of a variety of Satanic theories, yet little of note is actually on offer on the album. The band’s steady lyrical decline first manifests itself in this instance. Most of the songs revolve around depictions of hell and Satan. Other themes include anti-Christian rhetoric (‘Hail Murder’, ‘Diabolis Interium’, ‘Thus I Have Spoken’), witchcraft (‘An Apprentice Of Satan’), and vampirism (‘Heart Of Ice’). In keeping with the tradition started on the preceding album ‘Goddess Of Sodomy’ is a thinly-veiled love song (akin to ‘Ravenna Strigoi Mortii’ from “Vobiscum Satanas”) wherein Bröberg describes his want for an unspecified vampiric succubus.
The majority of the record is blisteringly fast with the kind of swirling melodies one has come to associate with Sweden. The lowpoint of the album happens early with the lamentable ‘Goddess Of Sodomy’, a midpaced track that opens with the samples of moaning women. It is the same tiring and tired trick that Tampa, Florida death metal outfit Diabolic pulled on “Vengeance Ascending” with the track ‘Celestial Pleasures’ with similar lukewarm results. Like “Nightwing” era Marduk before them the track evinces just how limited the songcraft of Dark Funeral, or Svanberg rather, truly is. ‘Thus I Have Spoken’ has a few more pronounced slower sections.
The album was recorded and mixed at Abyss Studio, Sweden with Peter Tägtgren producing and Lars Szöke engineering. It was mastered by Peter In de Betou at Tailor Maid Production in Landsvägen. As expected considering the year of release and what facility handled it the production is bass-heavy and crunchy. “Diabolis Interium” that bathes in a typical Abyss Studio digital sheen and nearly synthetic feel while being tonally rich. The fuzzy, hazy digital guitar tone is an odd choice after two records famous for their crunchy tones. The production on “Diabolis Interium” is pristine, and very much what one would expect of a death metal band, guitar tone excepted.
Instead of working with Kristian Wåhlin as on its debut Svanberg allocated artwork and graphics by Daniel Valeriani. The design choices made here would be reflected in the subsequent two albums. It was the first of three orange-centric album covers. “Diabolis Interium” chooses burnt orange which is usually associated with pride, tension and aggressive self-assertion. That the album reveals its true colors and asserts itself as being completely interchangeable with its predecessor is then only expected. Interestingly, it uses the identical template for the production notes as “Vobiscum Satanas” did, only with a different shade of color. The production notes even incorrectly spell the name of Peter In de Betou on the Necropolis edition of the album which is frankly unforgivable considering this was released on a, supposedly, professional label.
If anything “Diabolis Interium” proves that Dark Funeral’s incendiary debut “The Secrets Of the Black Arts” was solely the work of guitarist David Parland. Where “Vobiscum Satanas” at least attempted to recreate Parland’s distinct riffing “Diabolis Interium” has resigned itself to superficially imitating its superior predecessor, and has Dark Funeral at the end of its already limited creative rope. Nothing about “Diabolis Interium” is particularly engaging, and Dark Funeral was as vanilla and populist as they came at this point. The next two albums would be superficially identical but with the inclusion of non-black metal writing - and production techniques.