Marduk are a band that came out of the, now infamous, Second Wave of Black Metal, of the early – 90’s. Swedish, not Norwegian, but were, nonetheless, Euronymous approved, back in the days when he was the inner-circle, taste-maker and indeed, still on this mortal coil.
To be into their 25th year and still putting bands half their age to total shame, is no mean feat, but that is what they continue to do. album number 13, “Frontschwein”, is further proof, as if that were needed, that there is church-loads of energy, anger, fire and, most importantly, quality, left in these ‘trve’ veterans, make no mistake!
Arguably, one of the most notorious records among the band’s extensive back catlog, is 1999’s, “Panzer Division”. The band have always written of war, fairly extensively, but that particular album was a fully-immersed world war II, concept record. 16 years on, mainman, guitarist and composer, Morgan, decided it was time to make a sequel, and in “Frontschwein”, we have it, but is it a worthy follow up?
“Panzer Division” is noted for being a full on assault that never lets up, even by Marduk‘s standards. Here there are a lot more dynamics going on, but never-the-less, if the songs aren’t pounding you like rapid, machine-gun fire, then they’re marching on, as heavy as a whole batallion. Always though, the feel is dark, and the mood, thick.
From the off, on the opening title track, the music very cleverly has a martial feel. Whether it is the melodies, or notes chosen, or the actual style and pace of drumming underpinning everything, this collection of songs could be likened to various stages of a battle, including just before and, after. This is in contrast to “Panzer Divivsion”, which feels (very effectively) like one, long, frenzied and relentless assault. Do not get me wrong, a track like ‘Rope or Regret’ is as fast as anything they have done before and both the blasts and fills of new sticksman, Fredrik Widigs, is, well, its fucking ridiculous, for want of a better description! He is unbelievable. Tight and lightning quick, but never sounding anything but human, which is so important in Black Metal.
Morgan seems to just know exactly what he wants from his music and band mates, and each album, since the first couple, he seems to achieve exactly what you can imagine he had set out for the grand scheme of every Marduk outing. This must be a great deal easier knowing that he has one of Black Metal’s most talented and recognizable vocalists in, Mortuus. This is the vocalists fifth collection, fronting the group, and he just shines everytime he abuses the microphone. As a side note, if you do love Mortuus‘ unique vocals, then you should check out his stunning solo project, Funeral Mist. He uses the alias, Arioch, in that project. Lyrically here, he is also as vivid as ever and it is easy to paint pictures in your head, whilst reading the words along with the songs. You can quite honestly be either in the trenches, on the frontline, or embroiled in a mid-air dogfight, with explosions and flak all around you.
Some have a problem with Marduk, citing their inability, or perhaps, refusal, to stray too far from Black Metal’s blueprint. “Frontschwein”, actually might spit back in the face of some naysayers. With the use of an oddly, disco-like beat, that is utilised for the duration of ‘The Blond Beast’, or the dramatic twists and turns of the 8-minute-long, ‘Doomsday Elite’. With this said, those that are searching for more original takes on the genre, there are the likes of Deafheaven and Wolves in the Throne Room, that you can go froth over.
I for one welcome back Marduk, and their latest Third Reich inspired, slab of blood-thirsty savagery, and you should too!