"Belial Arisen" was recorded all the way back in 1996 when the band was still alive. Michael Ford, the former of the band, took off soon after the recording of this CD to form dark Industrial bands such as VALEFOR and PSYCHONAUT73 (his current band) and so BLACK FUNERAL had no other choice but to put itself to sleep.
So, this album is the obituary of one of the first American Black Metal bands. BLACK FUNERAL (I guess) was one of those cult bands not many had heard of but those who had were all over them and listening to this testimonial of their uncontroversial sound it is not that hard to believe. For one the production alone will be too much for most people, even those who are accustomed to Black Metal's low production. This here would have most primitive Black Metal bands' production sound like it was crystal clear, it is that bad. No, actually it's even worse than bad. The sound wavers back and forth as if getting muted periodically by a slowly rotating fan. And even when it's 'good' it's really bad.
Another ingredient that makes this cult is Michael Ford himself. He is really committed to all things dark. A Satanist and practitioner of witchcraft and the founder of a black magical guild. His lyrics followed suite telling of vampirism, lycanthropy, Satan and witchcraft. All this most certainly made him an even more convincing leader of the band and I for one would have liked to see what he was like on stage. I'd have liked to see the whole band on stage for that matter!
BLACK FUNERAL's style of Black Metal was a grim and dirty but also quite appealing. It's got that DARKTHRONE kind of grimness and groove with a bit of MAYHEM and EMPEROR in it, especially in the rare keyboard parts. Aggressive and cold, ugly and disturbing but at the same time so very atmospheric and very interesting. The melodic riffs are a great contrast to the otherwise very raw sound and at times creates a very beautiful whole (or then I'm just on a very sentimental mood today). The vocal's are somewhere between BURZUM and DARKTHRONE and pretty demonic indeed.
"Belial Arisen" is a fitting reminder of BLACK FUNERAL's might. Very cold and aggressive. Raw and ugly but at the same time incredible and even beautiful. Check it out if you like your Black Metal raw and kicking or have any interest in the American Black Metal scene and can put the production values behind (by the way it really doesn't bother that much the more you listen to it). Scary stuff. (Online December 4, 2003)