When I first fell into their arms, awe struck, tormented and lustful, it was as dreary April in Oslo, Norway. Never before had I truly experienced Black Metal the way it was meant to be felt. Sure a record is an experience in itself but I came home from Norway with more than just some picturesque photos and knitted garments. I returned to my own frozen waste land, Canada, in love.
Since that trip, Marduk has grown to become one of my favorite bands. I can’t even think of and album I could turn my nose up at. Regardless of line-up changes or controversy, they still continue to spawn quality records after over 20 years as a band. The tour for their latest release, “Serpent Sermon” this year was no exception to their rein of malicious superiority in my books.
Being lucky enough to have them travel through Ottawa this time on June 6th, 2012, they played Maverick’s; a dark, brick walled void in the city center. With only around 150 bodies staggered throughout the small venue, it made for quite an intimate experience, unlike any I’d ever had seeing the band previously. A pit was cleared before Marduk had even graced the stage. I staked my place beside the monitors as the crowds chanting began to rise, flooding out all insignificant noise. All that could be felt in that moment was their villainous, depraved presence as they rose to the stage in black garments and corps paint. Excitedly obnoxious fans yelled out preferential track titles, to which Mortuus would simply reply, “In time” in his deep and dreary tone, emulating a leader to his minions; slaves we were to the sound quite simply.
In no way did they disappoint. Scattering their set with albums spanning their career, even if you didn’t hear the track you were hoping for, they probably at least got the album right. You can only please so many people. Cracking the set open with tracks such as “Still Fucking Dead” – Dark Endless, “Headhunter Halfmoon” – “Iron Dawn” and “Materialized in Stone” – “Opus Nocturne”, hair was windmilling, fists were whaling through the air and heads were banging to the swift, bashing riffs. Showing off some of their latest songs from their 2012 album, “Serpent Sermon”, such as the title track and “Souls For Belial,” old fans who hadn’t yet given the album a listen, could experience it firsthand.
Guitarist and forming member, Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson performed his rotting heart out as bassist Devo would hunched over his bass guitar, shaking the room and veiling it like a gloomy storm cloud. Drummer Lars Broddesson was exceptional to watch as he snarled behind the kit like caged wolf, baring his teeth and battling his way through steel. Mortuus’ coarse screams tunnelled through every nerve and settled in, spurring shock waves of putrid death through the mortal biology.
When the first few notes of “Baptism by Fire” were played, I swear the whole room melted down into a pulsating puddle of metalgasm; as if everyone’s eternal hard on for “Panzer Division Marduk” was relieved in one fell swoop. Blasting their way through track such as “Azrael” – La Grande Danse Macabre, “Womb of Perishableness” – “Rom 5:12” and “Throne of Rats” – “Plague Angel”, they even indulged the crowds persuasion for an encore. This show could have very well been endless and I would not have noticed the passing of time.
“I feel like I was just fucked by Christ!” shouted a guy from behind me, pretty much summing up the show experience in one bestial back hand to the face in the name of religious slander. If you ever get the chance to see Marduk live, take it. Fly, bus, carpool; whatever it takes. Their tour is not yet over and I doubt this is the last time they’ll make their way around the world to bludgeon eardrums with their black metal legacy.