Marduk
Serpent Sermon


3.0
good

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
May 23rd, 2012 | 62 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Marduk simultaneously correct and regress as the years turn into decades

It is hard to believe that Marduk have been around for 22 years and are releasing their twelfth studio album in Serpent Sermon. The fact that they have been playing black metal through and through for that entire length of time and rarely deviated from their core sound aside from slight shifts in subject matter is something that many black metal bands cannot claim, and may not really want to claim. It seems a bit odd to still be reviewing an album by these Swedish veterans simply because of the amount of material they have released, but it becomes even more confusing when Serpent Sermon proves that Marduk may have life in them yet. While their 2011 EP Iron Dawn may have been a monument of mediocrity, Serpent Sermon plays a different hand: ravaging black metal with an old-school feel. From the frantic riffing to the over-the-top imagery and lyrics, Marduk plainly do not care whether the oft-heckled “trve” black metal sound is out of style.

More power to them, really, when 22 years after their formation they have departed so little from their core aesthetics, aside from a cleaner production which brings this tremolo-laden beast to the 21st century. While it is hard to say that anything here will breathe life into the genre, it is also difficult to say that they have encountered a lot of obstacles along the way. Serpent Sermon feels smooth and connected, which is odd considering that 2009’s Wormwood had itself a fair share of meaningless filler. The down-tempo “Temple of Decay” seems to contrast the ripping “Damnation’s Gold” and “Hail Mary (Piss-Soaked Genuflexion)” markedly, but they work alongside each other well, helping to keep tempo stagnation to a bare minimum. This is quite a feat, indeed, because Marduk have suffered from crippling repetition on their past several albums, but seem to be trying to correct that here. While the problem most definitely isn’t solved – there are plenty of moments where a change of pace would have been invaluable – it is a step in the right direction.

While the attitude of the band to remain true to their roots may be admirable, it can’t be overlooked as a drawback. Serpent Sermon is an album any black metal fan has already heard: laden with tremolo riffing, incredibly heavy, unrelenting, and explicit in its content. “World of Blades”, the album’s closer, is the most varied track on the album, with slower instrumentation and vicious vocals by Mortuus – who, it should be said, is a very good vocalist when it comes to this style of black metal – sandwiching a lengthy break with spoken word vocals that isn’t necessarily a highlight but does contribute to the album’s atmosphere. It is nice to hear that the production Marduk have placed on the instruments is very good – it’s been quite a while since I enjoyed the bass guitar on a black metal album. Sadly, the production does make the album seem more sterile than it ought to be, because black metal in this vein should have a muddy mix in order to further the overall atmosphere. When it comes down to it, Serpent Sermon lacks wow-factor, and it is hard to say that there is any single track that is particularly exceptional. What Marduk have done is, instead of releasing several great tracks amidst a field of filler, released an album where all 10 tracks just sort of go along without much fuss.

Serpent Sermon is an album that is hard to tear apart for any wrongdoings simply because it does not have many of them, but it is also hard to heartily recommend because it is so mundane. There are moments when all seems to be alight in satanic glory like the black metal songs of old, but those seconds are fleeting and few. I appreciate the album’s unrelenting heaviness, but more skillful pacing can go a long way toward giving Serpent Sermon the replay value it needs to stand above other black metal albums in this vein. Marduk are not lost – they are indeed right at home- but one has to wonder whether they are scared of going out into the yard for a bit to take in a change of scenery. It really isn’t that scary out there, but for some reason these veteran Swedes can only peek out an open window at the strange world beyond. There is nothing to fear when it comes to change, so long as you don’t venture too far away and always remember where home lies. That, really, is the lesson Marduk need to learn to make albums like Serpent Sermon live up to their potential.



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user ratings (61)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2012


16397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Two reviews in two days how about that!

Liked this more than I was expecting to.

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

BallsToTheWall
May 23rd 2012


44409 Comments


Awesome, I dug the two tracks I heard. When did you become staff?

Digging: She Past Away - Belirdi Gece

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2012


16397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

When did you become staff?


October of last year hahah

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2012


18492 Comments


ugh the art for iron dawn was good why did they revert back to this shitty computer generated crap

oh well ill probably not ever listen to this

Digging: Objekt - Cactus / Porcupine

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2012


18492 Comments


When did you become staff?


hahahahahahahahahahah

BallsToTheWall
May 23rd 2012


44409 Comments


Sweet I wonder who else became staff since then.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2012


16397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

ugh the art for iron dawn was good why did they revert back to this shitty computer generated
crap


they should have gone with another fuck me jesus style cover imo

And I see the coding error in the last paragraph, don't worry.

Acanthus
May 23rd 2012


9543 Comments



A really nice review sir!

Digging: Falls of Rauros - The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2012


16397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

And I see the coding error in the last paragraph, don't worry.


;)

already reported it to jom the great

ShadowRemains
May 23rd 2012


20752 Comments


When did you become staff?


lmfao

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2012


16397 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Balls showing that he gives zero fucks when it comes to positions of power on the internet


good on you, sir

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2012


8361 Comments


If I remember correctly, Balls thinks us contributors are much more powerful than you staff folk anyway because we can roam free, do whatever we want, and still be titled. And the man is absolutely right ;)

Nice review btw.

BallsToTheWall
May 23rd 2012


44409 Comments


All I remember was wanting a special Contributor sect at one point...in like a 4 horseman kind of deal. 4 chief contributor generals that monitored the others. Still seems to me to be pretty badass idea although I'd rather just posture and talk shit rather than do any work and be/act important.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2012


8361 Comments


Yea weren't you going for some kind of a elite contributor title also haha?

BallsToTheWall
May 23rd 2012


44409 Comments


Yeah. The 4 horseman concept is pretty fucking bamf..just need 3 other worthy dues to join the ensemble. However it's required we all live in a similar area so we can be belligerent as fuck and be debaucherous assholes online and offline while at the same time contributing to the site.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2012


8361 Comments


Haha, our current class of contributors is real international so there's a slight problem with filling the "we should all live in the same area" requirement.

BallsToTheWall
May 23rd 2012


44409 Comments


I'm still aiming for the sputnik colony as a goal/life achievement.

Willie
Moderator
May 23rd 2012


15981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review. This is the only Marduk album that I've heard and it was very solid. All killer, no filler ;)

Digging: Necropoli - I

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2012


8361 Comments


I'm still aiming for the sputnik colony as a goal/life achievement.
And the 4-piece elite contributor horsemen group would rule it?

BallsToTheWall
May 23rd 2012


44409 Comments


Yo Willie organize a special contributing sect in the vein of The Elite Four and The Four Horsemen. We don't need any powers or privileges, just a catchy title to hang under our user names.



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