Review Summary: Marduk gone Krieg!!!!
I hate being late to the party. Why? Because when I arrive fashionably late, I tend to have missed out on some of the night’s more debauched moments. Whether it’s the Abercrombie and Fitch model attempting to jump into the pool from the top of the roof only to end up eating the pavement, the drunken, horse faced girl who’s being plowed in the backyard by three dudes, or having an angry black man storm into your house threatening to beat the *** out of everyone responsible for his underage daughter falling into a doorknob and busting open her face, one thing is for certain when it comes to partying. Time is essential. Get there before the going gets good. What does this nonsensical diatribe have to do with music you ask? A lot and a little. I’ve been listening to Scandinavian black metal for almost three years now but it wasn’t until 2010 when I discovered one of Sweden's crowning achievements.
The band is Marduk. Formed in 1990 and named after a Babylonian deity, Marduk have seemed to leave a favorable impression amongst metalheads everywhere but sputnikmusic. Perhaps that is why it took me so long to scour Marduk’s back catalog. Putting my faith into a group of people who don’t know dollars from dildoes was a mistake that I don’t intend on repeating. The album in question is Those Of The Unlight. Released in 1993, this album not only predates Ulver’s Bergtatt, Mayhem’s Di Mysteriss Dom Sathanas, Darkthrone’s Transylvanian Hunger, and Emperor’s In The Nightside Eclipse but fares pretty well with these legendary albums in terms of musical quality. I’d even be hard-pressed to say that Those Of The unlight slays anything that was put out in Norway circa 1994.
Marduk’s primary sound in the early stages was a black/death metal hybrid. With their second album Those Of the Unlight, Marduk adopted a purely black metal sound before eventually shifting gears into war metal territory. But enough of that, let’s get down to business. Marduk play raw, savage black metal that is characterized by fast tempos, bruising riffs and Joakim Gothberg’s signature scream. However, Marduk isn’t afraid of implementing a few catchy hooks, heart whelming melodies or seven minute ambient instrumentals (Echoes From the Past) into their overtly aggressive sound. That might sound contradictive to the code of second wave black metal aesthetics but In The Woods… slid by with female vocal harmonies and Varg gained a lively fanbase by sounding like an obese fat woman being strangled by sandpaper. So hey, who are we to judge?
The guitar aspect is the most significant asset to Marduk’s Those Of the Unlight. Consisting of Morgan Hakansson and Magnus Andersson, Marduk’s guitar duo was far ahead of it’s time by incorporating a wide variety of tactics and influences with the standard rapid tremolo picked chord patterns. Speed metal soling, thrashy rhythms, mournful doom like melodies and power chords, albeit sparse, provide enough depth to this record to elevate this record to the forefront of the hall of fame. Hell, A Culture Of Night might even be the first recorded attempt to bridge together rock n roll with black metal. Don’t believe me? Listen to 2:18-2:41 and tell me otherwise. To be frank in an honest and unbiased as possible manner, these guys abso- ***ing-lutely slay harder than Lucifer’s descent from heaven.
Vocally, Joakim Gothberg utilizes everything you’d ever like to hear in a classic black metal record without sounding like a fairy with a two inch spike up it‘s ass. Using primarily high pitched screams (albeit not too high) and anguished growls, Joakim complements the surging riff oriented attack with a feverish delivery. The stoic production values makes him sound possessed, complimentary of a young Dan Swano.
The rhythm section is marvelously performed as the audible bass provides a nice groovy low end while the drums blast off into oblivion. B. War avoids one of black metal’s most infamous stigmas by being a competent bass player. That is an accomplishment all in itself but amidst all the chaos B.War gets the job done. The bands drummer slash vocalist Joakim Gothberg is one hungry son of a bitch. Incredibly loud snare drums, blitzkrieg blast beating, and militant drum fills result in a punishing onslaught of brutality. Once again I commend Dan Swano for administering his personal touch to the nihilistic soundscape. Without sounding overly polished or contrived.
Although I arrived a few years late at Marduk’s Those Of The Unlight bash, I revel in my lost time by getting acquainted with their back catalog. This is a supreme black metal record that should be heard by just about everyone that considers him/herself a BM enthusiast. Not Carnifex though, GTFO.