Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Nile - Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka
Relapse Records, 1998
Genre: Death Metal

1. Smashing The Antiu
2. Barra Edinazzu
3. Kudurru Maqlu
4. Serpent Headed Mask
5. Ramses Bringer of War
6. Stones of Sorrow
7. Die Rache Krieg Lied Der Assyriche
8. The Howling of the Jinn
9. Pestilence And Iniquity
10. Opening of the Mouth
11. Beneath Eternal Oceans Of Sand

When I first heard of this band’s arrival on the scene I felt they would probably shed some serious intelligent light onto the blasé lyrical conceptions portrayed in most Death Metal releases.  Not to mention the musical arrangement concept of performing Egyptian Death Metal was immensely intriguing to me.  I was hoping for flowing Arabic guitar scales flowing up and down the fret boards of the guitars, coupled with an intensity Death Metal could only be known for.  However, I think what the public received is mostly a Harmonic Minor scale on the guitar, instead of the hundreds of scale work devised by the Arabic culture within their own music.  If you are truly searching for that “pure” middle-eastern feel then I would recommend Orphaned Land.  However, their devotion to God may put some metal fans at an uneasy spot of purchasing their albums.  However, if the music is all you care about then Orphaned Land presents a much more accurate form of Middle-Eastern extreme metal.  Perhaps Melechesh would be a good choice as well, especially for something more demonic.  Nile repeatedly screws up the message and gives education a bad name.  For they take a small piece of what they think is true and extrapolate that into gross inaccuracy with a reckless disregard for archaeological and historical truths.

I will first tackle the musical accomplishments of Nile, for they are far more impressive than their historical knowledge.  “Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka” as a Death Metal album is an incredibly well done masterpiece in my opinion.  However, when we beat our heads against the wall attempting to find the Egyptian Death Metal aspects it is very small indeed.  If this were not an attempt at Egyptian Death Metal, then I would say this is a creative wake up call to the Death Metal genre.  For the creation of the songs and riff writing is nearly un-matched.  Furthermore the guitar work is exceptional, fast paced when necessarily and broodingly slow at other junctures.  The skill with which they play is also quite incredible, Nile are truly well learned musicians and expect nothing less than a flawlessly executed performance on this album.  The drumming is an exceptional presentation of truly thoughtful drumming.  Pete Hammoura was not satisfied to blast through this album, but instead he thought out each drum line to syncopate him with the guitar and to throw in some necessary flare at times when things slowed down. 

The album launches you into a Death Metal blitzkrieg with “Smashing the Antiu” an inherently Egyptian sounding title; however, I cannot find one touch of an Egyptian song structure throughout the song.  It is merely a superb Technical Death Metal song and that is all.  “Opening of the Mouth” at points had some passages reminiscent of an Egyptian sound here and there.  However, other than that I did not find anything inherently Middle Eastern about the structuring of the songs.  Do not misunderstand me, for the songs are quite superb and I highly recommend listening to this CD, but if you are expecting a highly intelligent and well thought out conceptual piece, you will be as disappointed as me.  One of the most stand-out and interesting parts of this album is the song “Die Rache Krieg Lied der Assyriche.”  The song title is undoubtedly in German, and since Assyriology played a large part in German scholarly sectors in recent times. I see no problem in quoting a title.  However, it was really Sir Henry Austen Layard, an Englishmen, who is attributed with being the father of Assyriology.  His excavations, with permissions from the British government, began in 1845.  However, Jules Oppert, a German, would be instrumental in deciphering the Behistun Rock in the Mesopotamian region.  Now, on the topic of Assyrian not being Egyptian, I will vehemently and violently explain this idiocy later.  Now the music of this song is quite impeccable and different.  What Nile took it upon them to do was make a donation to the Tibetan Monks and have them sing on their album.  This is easily one of my favorite songs on the album.  It has a very tribalistic and foreboding feel in the recording.  The interesting part, while very creative, is that they used Tibetan Monks, clearly from Tibet.  Furthermore Tibet is not near Egypt.  While the use of the Tibetan Monks was sheer creative genius on Nile’s part, I find it a bizarre choice for what they were conceptually trying to achieve.  Though, this brings me to the song that I thought was quite impressive and the most Egyptian sounding out of all of them, “Opening of the Mouth.”  In the middle of this song the whole band stops and a tribal drumming sequence goes as they sing “Sebau Fiends work evil on the body.”  I thought this was an incredibly impressive switch to put into the middle of an intense Death Metal song, showing how creative and experimental Nile was willing to be.  Standing out amongst the rest of the tracks to classical aficionados was a rendition of Gustav Holsts “Mars the Bringer of War.”  Nile changed the name to “Ramses Bringer of War,” while they did not play the entirety of Holsts original work they played the more memorable intro of his masterpiece.  This was a great choice to re-work, because surprisingly practically no extreme metal bands seem to have thought of covering it.  Nile’s rendition was splendid in my opinion and I think many Death Metal fans will agree that it is a triumph in the Death Metal scene.

This brings me into discussing the lyrical content of their so called “Egyptian lyrics.”  Now I read an interview with Karl Sanders around the time this album was released and I remember him stating that some of the lyrics used were Sumerian.  Now I was at first greatly curious about this because a book on Sumerian linguistics is quite difficult to track down.  I have merely found a book on the Akkadian, which is quite extensive, and archaeologists have a full alphabet for.  The last I had heard was that the Sumerian language was still a broken language within the archaeological field, so to see a Death Metal band writing their own lyrics in Sumerian would be quite impressive indeed.  Now the Akkadian language is derived from what linguists have called “Common Semitic.”  I conjecture that this may have been Sumerian, for the writing styles are almost identical, using cuneiform as the primary writing aspect.  Now that broke into West Semitic and East Semitic, East Semitic broke into Eblaite and Akkadian.  The city-states of Akkad over ran the land of Sumer taking over the entirety of the southern Middle East.  The Akkadian language dominated the region and as time went on Akkad became a common trade language used amongst Persians, Egyptians and Akkadians.  However, the Akkadian language was doomed to die out on its own, but Western Semitic flourished and eventually developed into the commonly known language as Hebrew (including Canaanite).  Jesus Christ spoke a derivative/similar language called Aramaic, for those wanting a reference point.  Furthermore when Akkad flourished in the region it was also prior to the Babylonian and Assyrian empires that later took rule, sometimes the Akkadian language is commonly referred to as Babylonian and Assyrian.  Granted Babylonian and Assyrian were also modified linguistic representations of the original Akkadian language, because the empires are nearly thousands of years apart, so some language modifications had to occur.  The key to discovering and decoding the language was when archaeologists found the Behistun rock which was a trilingual inscription, containing, Old Persian (Akkadia), Elamite and Sumerian. 

As you can see language is an interest of mine so imagine my surprise when I saw a song title such as “Barra Edinazzu.”  I couldn't identify this language for the life of me.  It clearly wasn’t Egyptian, in fact very little of the foreign languages used throughout this album are not Egyptian.  Some words and phrases are, but most are not.  So I took a closer look at the lyrics to “Barra Edinazzu” and I knew I had read them somewhere.  Sure enough they came from the Necronomicon, on page 80 to page 81.  The prayer entitled “The Exorcism of Barra Edinazzu (For Spirits who Attack the Circle).”  Word for word this prayer is copied and Karl Sanders had the nerve to explain to the public that this was “Sumerian.”  It sure as hell is not Sumerian, I have Sumerian dictionaries I can’t find a goddamn thing relating to the words used in this book.  Now remember Akkadian and Sumerian are very closely related languages, and the Sumerian translations in the Necronomicon are not even nearly close to what I find.  The word for “God” or “Spirit” according to the Necronomicon is stated as being “Xul.”  This I can’t find anywhere, I notice that the word God is “ilum” and the word spirit is “mukil resim.”  For those about to point out that the Necronomicon has a bibliography in it where I can find related information, I own some of the books and you will see that I am using them in my bibliography at the end of the review to disprove the farcical nature of this most infuriating text. 

The Necronomicon’s perversion of Sumerian does not stop at linguistics alone, but the belief structure they would have you believe is so erroneous it makes me want to hit something.  There are various parts of the Necronomicon that wholeheartedly piss me off.  The first that stood out to me was a numerological aspect in the title “Supplementary Material to 777.”  The number 777 is related to Judaic lore and is the number of God.  If you are pulling aspects of a Sumerian time-frame then using a representation of God makes no sense. Furthermore the Sumerians used a sexagesimal number set.  However, the number seven was greatly important in to the Sumerian culture; often time’s ritualistic aspects had to be done seven times.  This is most likely why in the development of Judaism the number 777 was represented as God.  Labeling a deity with numerical representation is not new and the Sumerians did it as well.  However, the Necronomicon tries to make you believe that they got the number system correct.  Sometimes the Sumerians would write the names of their deities in the form of numbers such as Samas (pronounced ‘Sha-mash’) whose number was 20.  Now the Necronomicon actually did get this aspect correct, but when it comes to the number 30 the representation for Sin, the Necronomicon states it is the number for Nanna.  This brings me to wonder what else is inherently erroneous about the Necronomicon.  Now why Nile chose a book that presents erroneous information about the Sumerian’s I will never know.  For a band that should have spent their time focusing on Egypt they seemed to use a lot of the “Sumerian” aspects. 

Now another aspect of the Necronomicon that really makes my blood boil is how it bases a lot of truths around Aleister Crowly and H.P. Lovecraft, two writers of fiction.  Granted both men were into occult magic, but it was not Sumerian.  There’s in fact a chart of comparisons on page xxxix of the Necronomicon which compares all three, Lovecraft, Crowley, and Sumer.  This does nothing but increase my belief that this perversion of Sumerian is nothing but a joke in terms of the Necronomicon.  The first thing I notice is Cthulhu, whose number is 666, and in Sumer should be referenced as Ctha-lu or Kutulu.  Now I’m looking through my book “Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia.”  I can’t find reference to this Kutulu person anywhere.  Nevermind symbology related to him or the number 666.  Now I know the number 666 in the Torah was related to Lucifer because of his imperfection (see my review on Blut Aus Nord’s “The Work Which Transforms God” for further reading on this).  I can indeed locate some of the names within but as far as the symbolism of some aspects is completely incorrect.  For example, the Pentagram, which in most religions has become a pretty important aspect, especially in the form of a Pentacle.  Now it says that it is derived Plough Sign in Sumerian, which it says “the original pentagram and sign of the Aryan race.”  (Necronomicon, pg. xxxix)  Now will someone please kindly inform me where in the bloody hell the Aryan race comes into play here?  First off the Sumerians did develop the symbol of the swastika and it was used very rarely in their culture.  However, as an Aryan representation for Arabic peoples is the most preposterous thing I have ever heard.  The swastika wasn’t even derived from a plow symbol.  The symbol for a plough in Sumerian doesn’t look anything like a pentagram either (see Figure 3 on Page 102 of “The Sumerians” by Samuel Noah Kramer).  Now the Sumerians did have a star that was important in their religion and it was an EIGHT pointed star.  Sometimes it was represented as a six pointed star, which may have later influenced the Star of David used by the Jews.  However, in terms of deities Nile seems to have done their better research and when mentioned in the song “Die Rache Krieg Lied der Assyriche” Nergal is mentioned as the “dread god of war and plague.”  This is a fairly accurate description of this god and I cannot fault Nile on this statement.  However, I can fault them on the fact that Nergal has no relation really to Egyptian Mythology.  However, the developmental influence may have happened across the sea.  Regardless Nergal is mentioned nowhere in Egyptian mythology.

The next topic I would like to discuss is the aspect of Evil used on the Nile album and throughout the Necronomicon.  This is an extreme metal release so obviously Nile would closer associate themselves with an evil nature rather than a benevolent one.  However in the linear notes on the last page it quotes “Evil thanx from Nile to.”  While at first glance many would think nothing of this, but then it occurred to me that the Egyptian religion is fairly unique in the sense that it’s deities have both good and evil aspects to them as if there is always a balance.  I found this interesting when I began to think about it because shouldn’t technically Nile say “Neutral thanx” if they would like to come off as being well read on the Egyptian religion?  Furthermore the Necronomicon in itself is held as a tome of “evil.”  No matter how inaccurate it actually is.  I am saddened and dismayed at Nile’s choice to reference the Necronomicon in their music for it makes them seem as if they are unwilling to do the hard research, to make sure what they display as fact is indeed fact.  Nothing made me more furious than Karl Sanders’ quote telling the world this was indeed Sumerian, when in fact it was nothing near what Sumerian was in actuality.  Now there are thousands of uninformed people walking the earth proclaiming that Nile is a good reference, when in fact, if Nile had done careful research on their own they would have seen the mockery in itself.

I must discuss my own personal outlook on the Necronomicon for a moment, because I believe I have a very educated opinion on the subject, seeing as how I have read a fair amount and studied Sumer quite a bit in my spare time.  I once read a review of the Necronomicon and the reviewer stated that the Bible and the Torah were works of fiction, but they were based on fact.  How could things be any different for the Necronomicon?  This I believe was coming from someone who truly believed in the things the Necronomicon claimed to raise, furthermore this person stated that he had seen “things” that were unexplainable.  Now my question is that if the Bible and the Torah are works of fiction then why is not the Necronomicon the biggest work of fiction of all?  I see many people claiming such books of power as “true,” yet they have no substantial works or historical background to back them up.  Now the Necronomicon tries very hard to create that historical background for the reader, but reading any literature on what Sumer really is, any fool can see that the Necronomicon is an incredibly ignorant work of fiction.  I have heard people claim that other books of power are also the oldest in magical works, yet when presented with Pope Honorius and Le Dragon Rouge these people know nothing of true books of power.  Misinformation is very dangerous it is the quickest and easiest way to forget the past.  I’m greatly disappointed in Nile’s work with this great concept.  They came up with a truly original and brilliant idea, but then dropped the ball during the writing and research process.  I am sad to say this will get an overall poor rating, but I must do it.  The music is great the information is unforgivably erroneous.


Black, Jeremy and Green, Anthony.  God’s Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia.  Third University of Texas Press, Austin Texas, 1997

Celentano, Dave.  Monster Scales and Modes.  Centerstream Publishing, Anaheim Hills, CA, 1992

Huehnergard, John.  A Grammar of Akkadian.  Scholars Press, Atlanta, GA, 1998

Kramer, Samuel Noah.  The Sumerians.  University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 1963

Saggs, H.W.F. BabyloniansBritish Museum Press, London, 1995

Simon.  Necronomicon. Avon Books, New York New York, 1980

Neptune Towers

Neptune Towers - Caravans to Empire Algol
Moonfog Productions, 1994
Genre: Ambient/Noise

1. Caravans to Empire Algol
2. The Arrival at Empire Algol

Well it’s quite clear that Fenris has discovered keyboards that produce weird sounds.  This is kind of like Ambient music only with more of a Space theme twist to it.  Or as Frenris states “Avantgarde Astral Alien Synth” which I think sums this stuff up fairly well.  The more interesting aspect is that this is a concept series of albums and I’m not really sure as to what the concept is, but I according to Frenris it is there. 

The music seems to be without general format, but it has some format here and there.  There is a recurring random bass line sequence that comes in and out of the first song and it’s got a bit of a “goofy” feel to it, but for some very odd reason it really works with the bizarre composition that overlays it.  “Caravans to Empire Algol” certainly has a very spacey feel to it, which is more than to be expected from something as crazy as this.  Basically if you were to take Arcturus and turn them into an Ambient/Noise project, I think you would find something along the lines of Neptune Towers as your end results.

I think the general idea behind the composition was to create something that sounded alien to the listeners, such as if it was created by another intelligence.  The choice of instrumentation seems odd too and lends itself to somewhat of a middle-eastern feel at times.  I suppose that kind of instrument effect would be alien to Norway, but still…  I didn’t entirely feel like this was something an alien intelligence would make.  A good portion of the recording features elements that do give off that aura, for sure, but it wasn’t something entirely alien.  Not that this is something that the average listener was supposed to understand in my opinion, I mean on the disc it says “The towers will appear only when your mind is opened.”  How to achieve this mental opening is beyond me, but it’s possible that this is supposed to happen while high… or drunk, I suppose?  Further it says in the booklet “thank you to whatever gave me the Cold Void visions.”  I suppose this statement means that it’s also supposed to hold the atmosphere of a cold void, like one would encounter traveling the vast expanses of space.  “The Arrival at Empire Algol” gives off the air of travel quite a bit.  The first part of the track sounds like a plane traveling by while other things signal in on strange frequencies.

Throughout the songs you feel, in a sense, that it is an alien signal trying to tap into this realm, it is filled with the typical cliché sounds of technology like varying beeps and so forth that one would encounter in any science fiction film.  There is some explanation as to how this was recorded on the back of the booklet because Fenris felt the need to explain his intentions further:

“-Escape Earth-
Unlike many synthesizer/space releases this album has no vocals or drums.  This is purposefully in order to enable the listeners to keep “both feet off the ground”.  Vocals and drums are particularly earthbound instruments that would eclipse the mission of this disc.
-Escape Earth-“

While I do agree with this concept to a degree, the earthen instrumentation from some of the keyboard settings on this album make it seem earthly in some senses, while in others Fenris does succeed in creating that almost totally alien atmosphere that he so desired.  I think for the most part he came through in the overall in creating that astral atmosphere.

What do I personally think of this album after all that analysis?  Well… it’s not really my cup of tea, per se.  I didn’t hate it, but it’s not something I would pull out on a regular basis.  I think many people will buy this expecting another attack of Raw Black Metal, but I feel they will be greatly disappointed because they just associate the name of the musician with Black Metal and can’t envision much beyond that.  Many musicians have ambient or keyboard driven side-projects and Fenris is no different than any other man, he desires to branch out and do something different regardless how bizarre.  The composition of this is mainly noise in structure, but that was the point, and the point of my outlook is that I didn’t enjoy it very much.  I think people will be more shocked to hear Fenris do something other than Black Metal at this point in his career than anything else, which is also probably the point of the whole endeavor.  Regardless of points, ultimately I can’t see this becoming a very popular and highly sought after release in the future.  (Unless of course aliens take over our planet and all of a sudden this is a multi-platinum album.)


Nazxul - Totem
Vampire Records, 1995
Genre: Black Metal

1. Totem
2. Watching and Withering
3. I Awaken (Amongst Them)
4. Unearthed
5. Vermis Mysteriis
6. Hatred
7. Endless Reign of Power
8. Distance Begins
9. Amidst the Flames
10 .End
11. Eternum

I remember hearing this album a long time ago, about ten years now, shortly after it was initially released.  I must’ve been around thirteen or fourteen then and I don’t know why I never took that extra step to actually purchase the album because even then I thought it was quite amazing.  Anyway, everything that is great about this album is still great to this very day.  Nazxul managed to put together a timeless work in my opinion and you can hear the influences filter down into other bands now.  For the time this was released this was probably one of the more fearsome recordings to truly behold, when I listen to it all these years later it still holds a lot of that same atmosphere it did years ago.

The first stand out point that anyone will notice on this Nazxul release is the vocal performance, for this time frame it is just so unorthodox for a Black Metal performance and truly adds to the overall mystical atmosphere from song to song.  Backovic used a lot of processing and layering, which usually I’m not very into, but he approached it from a completely different point of view in my opinion and made it work to his advantage very well.  For example if he had approached “Totem” with a more conventional vocal performance it probably wouldn’t be viewed as anything very different by Black Metal standards, except that musically it contains some sort of intangible mystical essence on most of the tracks.  Even without the layering Backovic is an interesting vocalist and that is very apparent on their demo from 1994, which had a vocal performance based mostly around whispering techniques and “Totem” is simply an extension of that approach.  Musically Nazxul isn’t overly generic or anything that drastic, but the elements in the composition are all influenced by varying aspects of metal.  However, they successfully created the necessary atmosphere to let the vocal performance thrive and really bring Nazxul into more of their own sound rather than just mimicking every other Black Metal band to grace the planet.  Nazxul also doesn’t blast through the entire album, like they sort of did on the demo, they slow it down on tracks like “Vermis Mysteriis,” at least for the first half, which even had some Death Metal overtones guitar wise on it, but only in certain sections of the song.  If you listen to “Distance Begins” Nazxul break into a sequence around the two minute mark that has some Obituary guitar overtones blended with some early Sepultura guitar elements, which can be found on “Beneath the Remains,” maybe.  However, primarily everything is Black Metal oriented, so I would hardly classify this as a cross breed by Death and Black Metal, but there are certain points where their influences tend to show through.  Furthermore, on some tracks they even have some keyboard elements here and there to really amp up the atmosphere in some sections, but it wasn’t overbearing or even used throughout the entire album.  Which I find to be great because sometimes a band will rely too heavily on a keyboard to create the atmosphere they are looking for, but Nazxul manage to create that special mystical essence seemingly out of thin air.

Now inevitably I will need to discuss the production of this album.  As most debut albums of this era go, the production isn’t exactly top notch, but it’s befitting of the atmosphere for this release.  It may take some people a few listens to make out every aspect of the songs, but I promise it is definitely worth the effort.  Some tracks sound as if they were recorded at a separate time because the production doesn’t match up with other tracks like the first three.  “Totem,” “Watching and Withering,” and “I Awaken (Amongst Them)” probably have the best sound against the rest of the album, but that doesn’t mean the other songs do not live up to their greatness, they do, it’s just production wise there is a slight difference.  However, I love the vocal production throughout the entire release, to be honest.  “Watching and Withering” especially, in my opinion, had one of the most impressive sequences on this album and not to mention most sinister sounding.

Nazxul’s concept is essentially based around the ancient occult and with the use of the word “Xul” in their name I assume it is Sumerian based.  However, unlike most bands that know nothing of the real occult, Nazxul don’t appear to make any references to the farcical occult work the “Necronomicon.”  So this, at least for me, gives them a certain degree of legitimacy.  If you look through the booklet in the “Totem” album they are no doubt highly interested in occult practices because it is laden with what appear to be ritualistic seals.  Some seals even bear cuneiform writing, furthering my assumption that this is based on the Sumerian occult.  Regardless, this denotes for me that they are not fools about the subject.  Unfortunately they only printed the lyrics for one song on here and that was for the track “Totem.”  For some reason I get the concept that it is dealing with idolatry, a heavily practiced form of worship used in ancient times and one of the major breaking points for the Judaic faith, since it is one of the Ten Commandments to not worship idols.  However, the overtones of mysticism stayed with the Jews to this very day, but only certain sectors acknowledge it.  The mystical works Nazxul, no doubt, focus on are the aspects of Demonology that are evil in nature, what Black Metal band could resist such a topic?  I think musically Nazxul present this concept very well and dare I say the best, when compared to other bands in the genre, especially at this early time.

I realize that Azaghal have tried to term their music as being Black Terror Metal, but Nazxul really went the extra mile and made their music truly terrifying.  Which, really, coupled with the impressive Black Metal atmosphere and this more unorthodox vocal approach, Nazxul truly put together something different and really incredible.  I think “Totem” even paved the way for future artists like Funeral Mist and Triumphator, albeit Arioch is the main man behind both, but he approached his work with a similar vocal attempt.  He really harnessed the method and power in Funeral Mist that Nazxul set precedence for.  Furthermore on the more recent Behemoth releases Nergal seems to be unopposed to approaching his vocal performance in a similar way of layering.  Unfortunately the only band that has ever come close to rivaling the vocal performance on “Totem” is Funeral Mist’s “Salvation,” I await the day when someone can truly recapture the essence “Totem” brought forth in an even more revolutionary way and I will be impressed if Nazxul could even recapture such a moment.  All hail the sacred Nazxul.

Naer Mataron

Naer Mataron - Up from the Ashes
Black Lotus Records, 1998
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Chosen Son
2. Faethon
3. Zephyrous
4. Τα Εν Ελευσινι Μυστιρια
5. Zeus (Wrath of the Gods)
6. The Silent Kingdom of Hades
7. The Great God Pan

This is the debut album by Naer Mataron from the small Greek scene that I knew of at the time this was released.  Naer Mataron do take a relatively interesting approach to their music, sadly it is restricted only to their lyrical concepts.  The album is slightly deceiving, in a way, with it’s opening track “The Chosen Son,” because it has a distinctively Thrash Metal feel to it, but that only lasts for four measures when it kicks into the more traditional Black Metal arrangements.  Essentially as far as this album is concerned it does not have any ground breaking work even for its release year, but it is a good album to listen to.  I cannot say I would pull it out frequently and listen to it, but it does show that this band has a definite degree of potential.  For the most part the album has a little bit of Black Metal for everyone, they use keyboards at points, but it is not used that often, maybe one riff per song on average.  There are some very well done melodic parts and the song that the band put together best on this album is definitely “Zeus (Wrath of the Gods),” it has an excellent chorus section of the song that couples with the melodic guitar line under the vocals.  I thought that is where they really shined on this album, the other songs are good, but none of them has a riffing approach that is as memorable as this song did.  The one production complaint I have on this is that the vocals seemed to be a bit low in the mix, but what do you expect for a debut album, usually these are the lowest budget of all the releases.  (Interesting note, one the producers of this album was Necromantia.)

Lyrically this band has a slightly different approach.  Being from Greece they chose Greek Mythology as their focal point.  I think it’s a great maneuver, since, for some reason, a lot of the bands from other countries outside of Scandinavia don’t really focus on the mythology of their homeland.  Which I think is very strange because one would think that the Scandinavians would set the trend that singing about your country’s ancient deities is a good idea.  Or maybe out of the hundreds of bands I’ve heard, I just manage to find the ones who don’t sing about that particular topic.  Greek Mythology unfortunately is not my strong point, so these lyrics did not hold all that much meaning to me, but if you are a Mythology buff and like Greece, then I highly recommend you look into this band for you will find it a more worthwhile purchase than even I did.

For the most part this album is traditional Black Metal through and through, except for the track “Τα Εν Ελευσινι Μυστιρια,” which is an instrumental and more of a relaxing track that focuses on atmosphere and has no metal at all in it.  The worst track for me was the last track “The Great God Pan,” because the vocal layering attempts were not very desirable.  For example, the vocalist will sing in a Death Metal voice the lines of the song “From the Arcadian Forest,” but layered under that is a higher-ranged Black Metal voice which comes in and yells “Forest!”  At first these things overlap a little and sounds fairly decent and is a very common layering approach, but then they start to spread apart more and get a little too sloppy for my tastes.  Until towards the end of the song the word “Forest” for example isn’t even attached to the original line anymore and is just sung separately.  It sounds rather out of place not the best thing to close with if you ask me.

Fans of traditional Black Metal will without a doubt enjoy this album very much; the production isn’t so poor that you can’t figure out what is going on.  In fact I found the production to be quite well done except for the vocal volume on the first few songs.  So for a rather unique lyrical approach this is a great band to delve into, I would say watch for further releases because as far as I can tell they have the potential to put together some really great stuff.  A lot of the guitar lines have very majestic approaches to them so it sounds really nice in the great scheme of things.  The debut album is always a strange occurrence in a bands life.  It is either the best work they have ever done and will never be able to top it, or it is just a somewhat decent album and the band pulls it together later.  I have not seen many bands get worse after their first album, but I am sure they’re out there.  Anyway, this is certainly worth a listen.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Myrkskog - Superior Massacre
Candlelight Records, 2002
Genre: Death Metal

1. Intro
2. Domain of the Superior
3. Detain the Skin
4. Trapped in Torment
5. Indisposable Deaths
6. Over the Gore
7. Blood Ejaculation
8. Utter Human Murder
9. Bleeding Wrists
10. Outro

This was a highly anticipated album by myself and everyone else who had the pleasure of hearing "Deathmachine." I’ll be honest, the first time I heard "Superior Massacre" I was greatly disappointed. I have since deemed it a fairly good album, but still, it does not come close to being as good as "Deathmachine" ever was.  Many of the reasons "Deathmachine" stood out to me are no longer present in this Myrkskog album. Now I’ve always encouraged bands to change and explore their styles aggressively, never settling for something another band has already accomplished. For the most part Myrkskog continue to stay somewhat true to my criteria for truly creative musicianship, but "Superior Massacre" lends itself to using song formats that have already been used. I feel that after "Deathmachine’s" creative onslaught makes "Superior Massacre" a poor follow-up album.

That being said I’ll now address why this album is a poor follow-up. Song after song on "Superior Massacre" is nothing but rehashed Morbid Angel and Deicide riffing, it is still quite good riffing though. However, I will say this, Morbid Angel and Deicide have both begun to fall from their Death Metal thrones and maybe it is time for them to stand aside for conquering bands such as Myrkskog who still have a great understanding of what good Death Metal song writing format is. While the riffing used has already been done, it has not been used for quite some time. I applaud Myrkskog for trying to make this wake-up call in a metal scene is greatly lacking in creativity and hopefully it did not fall on deaf ears. The riffing is not a direct rip-off mind you. The Deicide and Morbid Angel riffing is, instead, combined together with the crazy riffing of normal Myrkskog giving the overall presentation a fiercer attack upon the listener. For a direct example of Morbid Angel riffing put to good use see "Trapped in Torment" which has riffs that I could see being used on "Domination" one of the most revolutionary albums ever released in Death Metal and that stand even today.

Some of the more major differences from "Deathmachine" are that Destructhor has taken up the vocals and Master V is no longer with the band. Destructhor’s vocals tend to stick with a more monotone vocal pattern used in Death Metal. They’re not as powerful or in your face as Master V and certainly not as coherent, but they do compliment the new Myrkskog sound effectively. I am saddened to see Master V leave the band for I thought his vocals were quite unique and very well put in their style. Another item that is sorely missed is the catchy-groove riffs that could be encountered all over the "Deathmachine" album. I’m afraid that catchy part is forever gone. However, one song stands out to me because it sounds the most like something that was written around the time of "Deathmachine" and that is "Indisposable Deaths." I feel this song is so well written that it should be enough for fans of "Death Machine" to buy this album. An improvement that should be pointed out is the drumming on this album. It is simply an incredible improvement on Secthdamon’s behalf. While his drum performance is nothing less than impressive on "Deathmachine", one can hear his labors come to life in the technical nature and speed found on this new album.

In closing I would like to state that I do find this to be a great listen, but it doesn’t stand out as much to me as "Deathmachine" did when I first heard that album. However, I do enjoy being brought back to the days of early Death Metal when it was truly a force to be reckoned with and I hope Myrkskog can bring forth a revival. For it does seem to me that creative Death Metal is lying in the hands of Black Metal artists such as Behemoth, Zyklon, Bloodthorn, and obviously Myrkskog.


Mortuus - Grape of the Vine
The Ajna Offensive, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Layil
2. Grape of the Vine
3. Torches
4. Sulphur
5. Disobedience
6. Nemesis
7. Tzel Maveth

After an incredible release in 2007, Mortuus finally return after a seven year wait for their second full-length. There was indeed speculation over this time as to whether the project was still running or not. When it was finally announced that a new album was imminent this year I immediately ordered a copy as soon as it was available. They are often compared to Ondskapt, but I feel Mortuus is creating more in the realms of "Draco sit Mihi Dux" than Ondskapt even bothers in these more current times. That slow tortured brooding brand of Black Metal is where Mortuus really creates the quality textures I've come to expect from the project.

In the booklet there is a note that says "treat this album as a sonic meditation into the most sinister reaches of the mind" and it truly does live up to that. With that intention in mind this has a lot more of a droning pace throughout the album to really generate that meditative effect. "De Contemplanda Morte" has a lot more rhythmic variation and dynamics by comparison, in my opinion anyway. That being said "Grape of the Vine" isn't too far off from the debut, which is great given that seven years have passed. They still perform that mid-paced ultra dark style of Black Metal that is so rarely performed and for that reason I think they will always stand out to me whenever a release hits, no matter how rare. "Grape of the Vine" has a slightly different feel to it from the changes in production quality. "De Contemplanda Morte" actually sounds brighter by comparison. "Grape of the Vine" plunges the listener into a level of dense material that there is just no escape from the weight of the music pressing down on you. This gives the performance an even darker texture than prior works, and the lyrics really round this atmosphere out. I really loved the lyrics on the debut album, but I think I like them even more on "Grape of the Vine". Lines like "we are but ruins here, all aligning to be forgotten! Ever staring at the stars knowing they died ages go." Combined with the vocal delivery that sounds far away from the music, but still audible really makes a lot of this atmosphere work perfectly for how they're designing it. It may not have the catchier aspects of "De Contemplanda Morte", which I miss quite a bit, but it gives us a different direction to stare into the depths of darkness with the focus being on a meditative experience. In that regard the song structuring mirrors more of an Ambient album than anything else and they've managed to do this without actually being Ambient/Atmospheric Black Metal. So, it's quite impressive in that regard.

When I was listening to this, for some reason I thought of interviews I've seen with Watain concerning their most recent efforts... and, honestly, Mortuus perform the music Watain seem to think they are playing as far as I can tell. You can hear some Watain influence in chord structuring here and there, but "Grape of the Vine" is really where the style is being done justice to me. Watain has released some great material over the years, but in the descriptions of their modern music it sounds more like they are describing Mortuus.

In the end this is quite an ambitious work and it is no surprise that it took seven years to really work it out.  In the end I'm actually not sure which album I like more. The debut is markedly different and I feel the goals of the second are quite different as well, so they are ultimately tough to compare. I really love that they are quite different experiences though. After seven years I think I would have been pretty happy with a rehashing of the first album, but they did give us something quite different. The only real challenge with "Grape of the Vine" is that the songs may not stand well alone outside the context of the full experience. Just about all the songs on "De Contemplanda Morte" sound great on their own, but like a lot of Ambient albums, outside the context of the full-length experience "Grape of the Vine" songs may not work as well. They may be reliant on generating that meditative experience Mortuus is trying to build into their writing, but only time will tell in that context for me.

Either way, if you enjoyed Mortuus' releases so far, I see no reason why this one wouldn't be enjoyable as well. It is absolutely one of the albums I consider worth purchasing for this year and I'm sure it will wind up near my top ten as their debut album wound up there. We'll see what else transpires from this year, but I think people should mark this as something worth picking up for sure.

Mortuus - De Contemplanda Morte
The Ajna Offensive, 2007
Genre: Black Metal

1. Penetrations of Darkness
2. Astral Pandemonium
3. The Constant Descent of Seraphim
4. The Illumination of Job
5. Rebirth in the Sterile Triad of Six
6. Supplications for the Demise of All: Withdrawal into the Lifeless Sanctum

Well this was certainly a surprising release; since I was under the impression this project was defunct.  In 2005 this band released a 7” EP that I purchased off of a whim and loved, then they were silent for over a year.  Usually when you put out a two track release a full length is short to follow, not Mortuus it took them much longer than I would expect.  Maybe they wanted to refine some points?  Maybe they didn’t actually have a full length ready to be released, whatever it may be “De Contemplanda Morte” was more than worth the wait.

If you enjoyed the tracks on the 7” there is no reason for you to dislike the tracks on the full length for they are even more grandiose.  It’s not about creating pure chaos or how many times you can say the name Satan in one album or how many upside down crosses you can draw in your logo, this material is well researched.  I personally enjoy the intelligence levels with which the band displays throughout the recordings and especially the lyrics.  In fact, I was getting quite tired of the ultra-satanic bands trying to outdo each other over the years, so this is a breath of fresh air.  Granted this will probably stagnate to me at some point as more and more bands attempt to jump on this bandwagon, but as it stands there are really only a handful.  However, something good could come out of these works creating a new standard of the intelligent Black Metal fan, granted that would require many people to spend a great deal of their time reading in order to understand where these bands are coming from lyrically, spiritually, and musically, which I think could only benefit a person, alas there are few who will do this.  Most people will jump on the bandwagon and tote these bands with high praise as the Les Légiones Noire craze went through and then when Moonblood suddenly got discovered by the greater populace and all of a sudden these bands were untouchable even though some of them played quite poor music such as Vlad Tepes (on early albums at least)!

Anyway, what to expect on this album musically?  Well it appears to be highly influenced by Ondskapt’s “Darco sit Mihi Dux”, as was the 7”, and since Ondskapt don’t seem to be returning to that particular feel anytime soon, I am happy to hear it revisited again on this Mortuus recording.  A major difference is that there are very few fast parts on the Mortuus album; I can think of only two that stand out to me.  Also thrown into the structure seems to be a distinct Thorns touch in the chord structures, such as that felt on the Thorns demo material rather than the newer material.  So if you take the slow parts from that Ondskapt album and blend them with Thorns’ “The Trøndertun Tape” then you would likely have a fair image of “De Contemplanda Morte.”  I wouldn’t say this is wholly revolutionary, but it creates quite a different atmosphere than its main influences.  For one, there are no fast Black Metal sections giving this a more brooding and foreboding aspect that even the Ondskapt album didn’t really have.  Ondskapt was more draped in darkness and a tinge of insanity, whereas Mortuus is methodical and secretive in nature.  So, similar aspects, but vastly different connotations.  I can see many reviewers writing this off as merely an Ondskapt clone, but those are the types of people who only look at Black Metal from a surface level, they only hear music in the sense that it is comprised of guitars, vocals, drums, bass and sometimes keyboards, they do not view it as shifting atmospheres, subtle connotations and so forth.  Though, there are just as many instances where it is just music to the musician playing and nothing more.  So if you are an in depth listener then be wary of other reviews for this album, they will miss the subtle nature that this album holds within itself and it is that aspect that truly brings it into the light against the others and the creators should be commended on their grand effort.

Now that we’ve discussed the music it is time to move onto the lyrical works, which are vast.  For a quick summation this sort of picks up where the 7” leaves off, but it’s much more in depth, but the underlying concept is quite similar.  Basically the lyrical content deals with contemplations of death, if you couldn’t guess that from the title of the album.  Along with the music being improved the lyrics have been improved even more drastically than the music.  They are much more philosophical and they appear to be researched much more.  They even have portions of their lyrics written in Hebrew script.  Though I’m not sure about a lot of the Hebrew terms used on Mortuus, I looked up a lot of them or tried to and I can only identify a handful, so I’m not sure if they are all really real words in Hebrew.

The booklet itself is even very interesting to look through and it’s not just pretty images, they all have great meaning for the lyrics and the concepts.  This is something else I greatly appreciated.  Mortuus is not just some band following a trend, they are the whole package and nothing is left lacking.  The music itself is a spiritual experience on many levels and anyone who wishes to have their minds illuminated would do well to observe this work with open eyes.

Mortuus - Mortuus
The Ajna Offensive, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. Silence Sang the Praise of Death
2. All Dead

Enter Mortuus in 2005, and the actual names of the people involved in this have not been named, but I’m going to do something very bold and suspect that someone from Ondskapt is involved somewhere in this, since they are both from Sweden and actually sound quite similar.  It’s possible they have nothing to do with each other though, but I don’t know for sure.  It’s obviously not the whole group for there are only two members of Mortuus pictured on the 7”.  However, everything seems to be directly in vein of Ondskapt to some degree.  If there ever was a transition album between “Draco Sit Mihi Dux” and “Dödens Evangelium,” this Mortuus 7” would be it.

Want to delve into the world of Mortuus?  Take the slower sections of “Draco Sit Mihi Dux,” make them more measured and darker and you will have essentially what Mortuus presents to the world.  If you’re expecting some blasting Black Metal, look elsewhere.  Mortuus is slow, brooding, and sinister, like a dragon calmly waiting for its prey to notice the immense foe that is before it.  Mortuus focus their directives on creating an impenetrable atmosphere of darkness in only the most sinister way imagined.  “Silence Sang the Praise of Death” is a testament to the atmosphere bands in Black Metal should strive for, and to some degree it has a more tangible atmosphere than even that of “Draco Sit Mihi Dux.”  The vocal work seems to be directly influenced by Ondskapt for they are the only ones I’ve ever heard use this sort of approach.  Mortuus have some religious overtones here and there, but they use them sparingly, which is something that makes them a little different from Ondskapt, but lyrically they sing their praises to Death and the music emulates this approach perfectly.  Even under the sinister vocal performance you hear tinges of spoken word, which adds a strangely ominous atmosphere to the overall composition.  At points the lead guitar goes into the background, but then in others it stands out with a tremolo picked passage that adds just that extra layer to the listener.

“All Dead” is similar in style, but the lead guitar approach reminds me of Thorns’ “Funeral Marches to the Grave” with the lead section fading in slowly then out as the intro progresses.  As it keeps up in the song it adds this natural effect of screaming to the song.  Some bands can evoke in their compositions the feeling that all hope is lost; Mortuus take that to the next degree and create an atmosphere that says “there is no point in hoping in the first place.”  I suppose this comes from the depressive pace of the music, which only enhances that specific essence that Mortuus envelopes its listeners with.

Both songs are performed at a very slow pace in terms of Black Metal, I would never term this as being even remotely related to Doom however.  Mortuus will present you with some of the darkest and most sinister Black Metal I’ve presently heard these days.  What a way to make it though, they released only one 7”, vinyl press only, then broke up and I believe this was also a limited pressing to top it off.  If you can actually hear these tracks, I highly recommend it.  You’ll be hard pressed to find atmosphere like this in other recordings.


MindGrinder - MindTech
Nocturnal Art Productions, 2004
Genre: Death Metal

1. Repulsive Evolution
2. Regeneration
3. War Solution
4. Deception
5. Starspawned Vision
6. Human Error
7. Fire & Equinamity
8. Sadistic Images
9. Surviving Gadzooks
10. Soul Inferno

The reason I first took notice of this band is because of Cosmocrater.  I met him at the Milwaukee Metalfest in 2001 when he was playing session bass for Zyklon.  Typically things related to Zyklon turn out to be very good.  So needless to say I picked up the MindGrinder album, more off of a whim than from hearing samples as I usually do.  Well, initial reaction to this album was “this is fucking awesome.”  My assessment that things usually related to Zyklon turn out quite good stands true.  Well, things related to Zyklon and Myrkskog, since half of Myrkskog is in Zyklon.

Obviously I wasn’t looking for a Zyklon clone, because then I wouldn’t have thought this was as good.  However, it does sort of have a similar guitar tone to “World ov Worms,” but that’s where the similarity really ends.  “MindTech” has a very interesting approach because some of the chord structuring I could see coming from Black Metal, but the song pace typically feels out of Doom Metal because it is slower than I would’ve expected.  The vocal aspects and guitar tone come right out of Death Metal in my opinion.  Other aspects of the guitar technique come right out of Thrash Metal, for good measure.  Needless to say, the end product is a very strange blend of metal.  While for those of you who are seeking the most intense music on the planet will not find that with “MindTech,” but I honestly think this album could be appreciated by just about any metal fan out there.  It has such a broad spectrum of music, it’s really tough to try and describe this album. 

The major stand out aspect of this album has to probably be the vocal performance for me.  Don’t get me wrong, the guitar work is great and very impressive, but it’s nothing overly technical or extremely different.  However, the vocal arrangements that accompany the guitar lines probably make the guitars sound ten times better.  This is just because you appreciate the arrangement of the music so much more for some reason.  The vocal arrangements make the guitar lines so much catchier that I can’t help but be impressed.  Honestly, I think this is some of the best vocal layering I’ve heard. With “MindTech” Cosmocrater layered a greater portion of the vocal lines.  This in turn made accent points so much more powerful for the listener, especially since he would sometimes add extra layering for those parts.  The biggest vocal surprise I got on this album was on “Starspwaned Vision” because of the clean vocals.  They were just so unexpected by track five that it sort of caught me off guard when they went into them.  However, they sounded great and I sort of wished they would switch it up on a couple other songs.  Granted I personally don’t want a whole album of clean vocals because Cosmocrater’s vocal strength is in a more Death Metal aspect and arrangement.  Now lyrically MindGrinder doesn’t seem to adhere to any major concept.  In fact the lyrics seem to just be cool for the sake of sounding cool.  I’m not sure if they hold any personal meaning for the musicians, but for me, I can’t really identify with any of the material written.

An interesting aspect of this album is that all the drum lines are programmed.  Now before you immediately close this review and decide to never get this album based on that fact, let me tell you they came out exceptionally well.  Even my drummer couldn’t tell the drums were programmed at first.  The only way you can really tell on this album is if you listen to the hi-hat at certain sections.  The ride doesn’t sound too bad, but you can still tell it is fake.  Usually those two cymbals are a dead give away for programmed drums, but MindGrinder managed to choose excellent samples for their production process.  With all the triggering done nowadays the actual drums, snare, bass and toms, can barely be deciphered as being programmed.

Overall this is an incredible release and I would highly recommend this to anyone.  I’m not sure what more I can say about this album, since all the stand out aspects are more based on the fact that they took influence from a lot of areas and improved upon them.  My favorite tracks on this album are “Fire & Equanimity” and “Surviving Gadzooks.”  Granted “Surviving Gadzook” is a rather silly title for a song, but it has one of the best vocal lines during the chorus or possibly pre-chorus section.  Not to mention that vocal part is backed up with one of the cooler guitar lines I’ve ever actually heard.  Needless to say, I think this is a must hear album.


Marduk - Frontschwein
Century Media, 2015
Genre: Black Metal

1. Frontschwein
2. The Blond Beast
3. Afrika
4. Wartheland
5. Rope of Regret
6. Between the Wolf-Packs
7. Nebelwerfer
8. Falaise: Cauldron of Blood
9. Doomsday Elite
10. 503
11. Thousand-Fold Death
12. Warschau III: Necropolis

After the release of "Serpent Sermon" I was, naturally, very excited to hear its follow-up. As soon as I saw pre-orders open up for the limited edition digibook, I placed my order immediately. I didn't really listen to the promo tracks very much, because over the past few albums Marduk has truly been in rare form and consistently improving. They stand as the only popular band that I listen to on a rather regular basis. So, that sort of sets the stage for how I'm entering "Frontschwein" and while I enjoyed most of "Frontschwein", this did not meet my expectations as being on par with "Serpent Sermon". Now it certainly has some on par moments, but as a whole, it didn't match up with the prior album in the same way to me.

Sadly Marduk have lost their prior drummer from the prior three albums, and this somewhat worries me. I thought Marduk had struck upon a solid line-up, but it seems line-up problems will remain a constant issue for them. The fact they had a reprieve for three albums is quite a boon at this point. On drums is Wigrids, who is actually quite young by comparison, which is interesting because Vader has also picked up quite a young drummer. I understand that Marduk's touring schedule and that life is very hard to keep up with, but at least the other three members remain stable.

Given the standard cover and title of the album I imagined Marduk would be returning to their warlike ways and that is certainly true. Although, I started off by saying this didn't really contend with "Serpent Sermon", there is still a lot to love on this release. In many ways I feel like they were trying to bring the realms of "Iron Dawn" onto a full-length and blending that intensity and fierceness into the style developed on "Serpent Sermon". While I, certainly, appreciate the blend, I think some work can still be done. For example, the opening track "Frontschwein" is a standard fair fast and hard hitting song around three minutes in length and stands quite apart from the album, just as I felt "Azrael" was out of place on "La Grande Danse Macabre". However, the album tries to balance this out a little bit with having similarly styled elements throughout the album. Songs like "Afrika" and "Rope of Regret" stand firm as the traditional Marduk post "Panzer Division Marduk". Strangely "503" is nothing like that, which likely stands as a reference to "502". I feel like some of these songs could have been brought in a deeper direction, rather than just playing fast and sawing away at the guitars for nearly three minutes straight. Listen to the stark atmospheric shift between "Frontschwein" and "The Blond Beast". "The Blond Beast" is a simply stellar song and could sit comfortably on "Maranatha"... in fact the opening riff sounds exactly like one of the songs on there... though I can't recall which at the moment. I was glad to hear this hit track two, so that I could see there was a serious balance in atmospheres. "Rope of Regret" does a valiant job trying to balance out the atmospheres of war and brooding darkness. Eventually Marduk seems to give up on the war torn country side and settles into a really satisfying second half with "Between the Wolf-Packs". This has some great riffing and even a section that is utterly catchy, reminding me of some of the catchy elements bands like Gorgoroth can summon from the early days. "Nebelwerfer" brings us into a slow and brooding styled song, but has riffing reminiscent of the mighty Sigrblot. The Sigrblot connection isn't restricted to this track alone and it shows up in other areas of the album, which I appreciated very much. The slow blend feels a lot more of what Mortuus/Arioch tries to incorporate as a full track on Funeral Mist and the slow brooding sections of "Souls for Belial". However, this time he seems to have succeeded. This is a much better song than "White Stone" which we heard on the "Maranatha" album. I feel like this type of experiment is unavoidable with Arioch and often times he does not capture the right space or frame of mind to set the listener. When that haunting lead section hits us in "Nebelwerfer", however, it is a truly stunning experience to behold, even though it is an incredibly subtle element. By this point the album settled into a beautiful blend of intense Black Metal and atmosphere, which is on par with "Serpent Sermon" and I think this is what they were initially trying to do with the first half, but rather than blending everything together into one interesting pot, they kept the elements rather segregated. This is the trap Marduk had always fallen into after "Panzer Division Marduk" and it is somewhat sad to see it still kicking around in their writing, I realize a lot of fans out there do want that, but honestly, Marduk have written songs in that style enough to last a lifetime as far as I'm concerned. If you want a taste of the "old" Marduk as far as their modern fans are concerned, I'd much rather them resurrect elements of "Those of the Unlight"!

I will say, that the limited digibook edition is very beautifully done. The layout and design are simply wonderful. I haven't seen the standard design to compare, but they definitely did well with this. The one and only complaint I could level at the packaging is the fact that the digibook doesn't really fit on my CD shelves. Whereas "Serpent Sermon" was a more standard size to fit on the shelving people have. Now, the major driving force for purchasing this edition wasn't just the packaging, but it was, in fact, the bonus track. Now, with "Serpent Sermon" they really gave us a bonus track unparalleled with other bands that include them. Marduk were not content to just give us a cover song or some three minute throw away track that didn't make the final cut when putting the album together. No, they gave us "Coram Satanae" an eight minute journey that was simply enthralling. I guess it was too much to hope they would deliver something like this again... but I am sad to report that the bonus track is not even Metal. I did expect this upon seeing the track was written by Arditi, a well known Ambient artist. On those merits the track is good, but compared to "Serpent Sermon" it can hardly compete. Perhaps if they took an Arditi song and translated it into metal it would work quite well, but here they just have about three minutes of Ambient. It would serve as a better intro than outro, imagine "Warschau III" building into "The Blond Beast".  Perhaps that was the original intent, but the main reason for me purchasing this edition seems to have lost some of its interest and value. I think the track listing is where a lot of problems can be levelled in some ways. "Nebelwerfer" kind of sits in its own space, with the rest of the album sort of just there around it. I think Marduk could have really made this work if they made the Arditi track the intro of the album rather than the bonus and, instead, put "Nebelwerfer" as the bonus. Doing this would have really made the special edition something to behold. "Coram Satanae" fit well in the "Serpent Sermon" space, which is why I said it should have been included, but if you listen to "Frontschwein" and the way the album develops, "Nebelwerfer" would sit way better as a closing track or, in this case, a bonus track. Listen to the space "503" puts its listener in, it totally sets the stage for "Nebelwerfer" and then put "Thousand-Fold Death" closer to the beginning, where it deserves to be.

Ultimately, I have mixed feelings on this. I'm not sure this will make the Top 10 cut this year, where "Serpent Sermon" was a clear contender. I feel this album is too all over the place with regards to what it wants to be. Does it want to be dark, brooding, contemplative? Or does it want to be hard hitting fast and quick to the point? I'm not sure "Frontschwein" knows what it really wants to be and these spaces are diametrically opposed on the album. They could have blended the "Iron Dawn" feel with "Serpent Sermon", but just couldn't do it all the time, which is why the latter half sits as a huge success as far as I'm concerned. Now the real trick for them is going to be if they could somehow write their standard warlike songs into the more brooding Funeral Mist atmosphere. I realize that is a huge challenge, but think about it, it would be a really impressive release to behold if they actually figured it out without losing atmospheric space to the listener. Imagine an expanded "Thousand-Fold Death", which has riffing that can easily lead into something far darker, especially with that lead guitar line. Personally, I would like to see if "Iron Dawn" can be invoked into the atmosphere of "Serpent Sermon" successfully. Something to hope for in the future, I think.

Marduk - Serpent Sermon
Century Media, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. Serpent Sermon
2. Messianic Pestilence
3. Souls for Belial
4. Into Second Death
5. Temple of Decay
6. Damnation's Gold
7. Hail Mary (Piss-Soaked Genuflexion)
8. M.A.M.M.O.N.
9. Gospel of the Worm
10. World of Blades
11. Coram Satanae

Given Marduk's current trend, I was excited to see the announcement of "Serpent Sermon's" imminent release. With the demise of Regain Records, it left bands like Marduk looking for a new label and I was a little worried when I saw them sign with Century Media. It's a huge signing for Marduk, but Century Media really has been out of the Black Metal business for a long time. Releasing album after album of absolute shit with regards to the world of metal. Dark Funeral have also decided to work with Century Media, so maybe things are changing over there... hopefully, this results in some US tour support for these great bands that have rarely come to my country. That being said... I should not have worried given Marduk's current trend in writing, because "Serpent Sermon" is the best in the modern era of Marduk. They are truly in rare form on this release. Never before have they released something with such an overwhelming ugly atmosphere.

This truly is the pinnacle of the modern Marduk sound and, honestly, if they can just stay here for a while and release albums of this caliber I will be a very happy Marduk fan. It will more than make up for the boring hours I spent trying to find merit in some of their middle era. When my only complaint is that "Messianic Pestilence" is too short, you know you've hit on a truly stunning release. It's been years since I would have ranked Marduk in my top ten for releases this year, but here we are... "Serpent Sermon" is certainly in there. It's not going to top Mgla's "With Hearts Towards None", but "Into Second Death" has riffing that is reminiscent of Kriegsmaschine's "Altered States of Divinity", so this is certainly nothing to complain about. One of the things that they really did right, and one thing I was looking for them to do, was to stop writing the "fast, slow, fast, slow" type of arrangement, well effort has been made on "Serpent Sermon" to do exactly that. The slow section of "Souls for Belial" feels a bit too much like Funeral Mist's "White Stone" to be truly enjoyable, but other than that when the band slows down like in "Damnation's Gold" it sounds perfect. That being said, "Serpent Sermon" sounds a lot more like the follow-up to "Maranatha" than "Wormwood" in many ways... so if you were looking for even more Funeral Mist, Marduk has basically fully become that sound. "M.A.M.M.O.N" actually has parts that are very reminiscent of Deathspell Omega, which sound very interesting cast in a Marduk fashion. It's perfect and I do hope that Morgan really likes this new direction for his band. It seems like everything is entirely revitalized and Marduk's new life is so much more promising than ever before.

When I saw that a special edition of this album existed with a bonus track that clocked in at nearly eight minutes, I pre-ordered that immediately. I'm really glad I did. It comes in a truly beautiful digi-book packaging... that makes me nervous to bring in my car for listening purposes. Regardless of the extra nice packaging the bonus track makes it totally worth getting. I actually can't believe this isn't on the album. I would have gladly given up "Souls for Belial" in favor of adding this as a closer to the main experience. I'm glad its included as the closing track... it does sort of overshadow "World of Blades" as a closer, but both songs are very good in the grand scheme of the album.

Here you have it... a rather "magnum opus" from Marduk. It is actually my favorite in their catalog. I didn't think there was much out there that would oust the classics from my memory, but this one did. Perhaps my love for this approach is what does it. If you're still keeping up with Marduk at this time and have loved the Mortuus era so far, you are in for a really incredible experience with this album. I will simply be shocked if they manage to outdo this in some way with a future release.

Marduk - Iron Dawn
Regain Records, 2011
Genre: Black Metal

1. Warschau 2: Headhunter Halfmoon
2. Wacht am Rhein: Drumbeats of Death
3. Prochorovka: Blood and Sunflowers

After a couple years of silence Marduk bring us a new EP. Now, in the past, their EP's were typically really not worth getting. They just didn't have new material or they were thoroughly uninteresting... all that changes with "Iron Dawn". This EP features three entirely new songs from the band and they're actually good songs!

It's been quite a while since Marduk has really delved into the topics of warfare and with a cover featuring tanks you just know how this EP is going to run, if you're familiar with the past discography. The whole graphic layout seems to be designed around a book that has survived "World War II", as if excavated quite a few years after the war. The booklet has damaged texts, so you can only make out fragments of the actual lyrics. Its a very excellent and appropriate layout for the concept. Musically, this heralds back to what "Panzer Division Marduk" may have sounded like if it actually had an interesting composition. It is nice to see Marduk return to the war front, but I think this is a topic Mortuus doesn't think of very often in favor of his more vicious anti-religious lyrics and venerations of death. I would say that it would be interesting for Marduk to do more of this, but let's be honest, Endstille is doing this topic justice enough for us.

So, for those of you that have missed out on the more vicious attack side of Marduk, you may want to check out this EP. Albeit they vary up the songs more than a constant barrage and they closing track is a rather slow tune. Either way, Marduk have finally put together an EP that is worth our time and money and I'm looking forward to what comes next.

Marduk - Wormwood
Regain Records, 2009
Genre: Black Metal

1. Nowhere No-One Nothing
2. Funeral Dawn
3. This Fleshly Void
4. Unclosing the Curse
5. Into Utter Madness
6. Phosphorous Redeemer
7. To Redirect Perdition
8. Whorecrown
9. Chorus of Cracking Necks
10. As a Garment

It seems Marduk is going back to their old days with taking time to compose an album rather than cranking them out every year. This is really working to their advantage because once they hit upon "Rom 5:12" it takes time to develop that level of atmosphere, so two years later comes the mighty "Wormwood". "Wormwood" welcomes yet another new drummer to Marduk by the name of Lars and it looks like this is first foray into the Black Metal world, at least with regards to being recorded. I really do like his drums, they feel a lot more organic compared to Emil's who felt extremely triggered. Either way, he seems to be a great addition to the band.

One thing fans of Funeral Mist will notice is that, it seems the more time Mortuus spends with Marduk, the more Marduk starts to trend toward a Funeral Mist style. Being a huge fan of Funeral Mist, I am not about to complain about this trend, especially since the release of Funeral Mist albums is a really rare event in the realms of Black Metal. It will probably get more rare as Mortuus focuses even more of his efforts into Marduk, even more so if this includes him offering riffs to the project. Based on "Wormwood", I would be shocked if Morgan composed every single guitar line on here. I think the only song on here where I didn't like every single note struck was "To Redirect Perdition", but Mortuus' lyrics to that song are in truly incredible form. His vocal performance also really makes that song hold together, better than it probably would otherwise. Marduk are also heralding back to something they used to do... take into account two guitars! That has certainly changed the face of the kind of atmosphere has been able to generate in these modern times, just listen to "Whorecrown", it sounds amazing.

As of late Marduk has been recording in a new studio called Endarker studio and all their material is being engineered by bassist Devo. This is one of the reasons for the evolution of their sound, because rather than the ultra slick production of The Abyss, which was okay for top bands in the 90's, but people have really figured out how to use a raw edge to very good effect in Black Metal today. Many of you may recall that Funeral Mist's "Maranatha" was also recorded there in the prior year, so "Wormwood" has a very similar production to that Funeral Mist album. The guitar tones are so much more harsh and more in line with "Maranatha" than "Rom 5:12" or "Plague Angel". This really gives "Wormwood" the edge it needs to sound like it really matters to the Black Metal world today.

Again, Marduk are back on the map for having something relevant to say in modern Black Metal, rather than a band releasing mediocre albums. "Wormwood" is a more well balanced effort than even "Rom 5:12". It also has a far deeper atmosphere, which has been a new moving trend for Marduk. I hope it keeps being the focus of the band, because Marduk is finally returning to a level that I willingly recommend their albums to new listeners.

Marduk - Rom 5:12
Blooddawn Productions, 2007
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Levelling Dust
2. Cold Mouth Prayer
3. Imago Mortis
4. Through the Belly of Damnation
5. 1651
6. Limbs of Worship
7. Accuser/Opposer
8. Vanity of Vanities
9. Womb of Perishableness
10.Voices from Avignon

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—" - Rom 5:12

With an album dedicated to the arrival of death in the world, "Rom 5:12" is truly where Marduk re-invent their entire sound. I haven't heard this much atmosphere in a Marduk album since "Opus Nocturne". Rather than trying to stick with their releasing new material every year, they took about three years to really get this album released. I think this was probably the smartest move for them, step away from their music for a while and really rethink things. The end result is the monumental "Rom 5:12". Even the layout is entirely revitalized, taking on the care that you get with Funeral Mist, which is no surprised since Mortuus designed and put together layout for this album. It's an absolutely massive booklet and barely fits in the jewel case teeth...

For starters this was the vocal performance I was expecting on "Plague Angel" and never got. Marduk more than make up for it on this album though. Usually, when I see a Marduk album with forty plus minutes in length, I worry about how quickly I will get bored with it. When I put this in and saw that this was nearly an hour long, I was worried at how tedious this review would get. However, with the opening song "The Levelling Dust", I quickly realize that this is not the same Marduk of before. As the album progresses, its incredible to see how far the band has really come. They have a lot of that filthy ugliness and hatred I love in a lot of Black Metal bands. Not only is this related to the devastating vocal performance from Mortuus, but even the guitar lines are written in a fashion that make this work very well. Emil's drum work really makes this album work well too, as he has always done before. I feel like Mortuus opened up a whole new world of underground Black Metal for Marduk, it feels like he's really kept up with the modern scene more and perhaps exposed it to Morgan a lot more. I think it goes without saying that Marduk has a huge infusion of Funeral Mist in their sound now. The frantic Morgan riffing is still around though, listen to "Vanity of Vanities". Listening to the epic eight minute slow songs in Marduk used to be an exercise in patience, but now they are truly a joy to listen to. The immersive state of songs like "Imago Mortis" are a far cry from the early songs. "Accuser/Opposer" actually has some clean vocal work on it courtesy of A.A. Nemtheanga from Primordial. One thing I really like is that you can really hear Devo's bass in the mix as well... even though he engineered this album, his mix is truly stellar. Just listen to "Voices from Avignon"... which closes with old samples similar to what we would hear on Funeral Mist's "Salvation".

The only sad news is that Emil didn't record on all the songs. I'm not sure if this says something about his involvement in the project. They only recorded the album over the course of two months, so I don't see why he didn't do all the songs. Either way this is an incredible album and just the right kick start Marduk needed to reclaim their status is a band to really pay attention to in the Black Metal. The only complaint I could ever have is they still seem to have that "slow, fast, slow, fast" type of arrangement to their track list. It would be really nice to see them step away from this approach and maybe start blending some ideas together. Either way, this album is extremely well done and a must have in the Marduk catalog.

Marduk - Warschau
Blooddawn Productions, 2005
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Hangman of Prague
2. Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets
3. Slay the Nazarene
4. Azrael
5. Burn My Coffin
6. Panzer Division Marduk
7. Blutrache
8. Bleached Bones
9. The Black...
10. Steel Inferno
11. On Darkened Wings
12. With Satan and Victorious Weapons
13. Throne of Rats
14. To the Death's Head True
15. Sulphur Souls
16. Warschau
17. Wolves

Celebrating the new and revitalized war machine, Marduk have seen fit to release another live album. Usually, I would be pretty wary about these things... but seeing this set list gave me some hope. Even though it was on tour for the "Plague Angel" release, they actually played a lot of other songs from the prior catalog. This concert took place in Warschau, Poland and it is easily the best live recording of Marduk since "Live in Germania". It comes in a slip case, but I really liked the cover on the booklet more, so I've posted that above. The booklet is awesome, a lot of great historical pictures of World War II.

The recording quality is very well done, if it wasn't then listening to over an hour long set-list would be horrible. Unlike "Infernal Eternal", Mortuus' vocals sound even better in the live setting. When he announces tracks between the crowd he uses that gurgling, heart wrenching, vocal style found all over Funeral Mist. Makes me wish he would do that during some of the Marduk tracks, like "Bleached Bones". They seem to have also went with the "alternate" vocal performance for "Steel Inferno" making this a truly devastating track. It shows up here and there, but he pretty much sticks to the high-ranged Legion styled performance for the earlier recordings. Albeit, his voice is far stronger and never gives out.

This must have been a truly stunning performance to behold. The war machine of Marduk has definitely been revived and fired up. I got see them on the "Wormwood" tour and that was a sight to behold. Even better than when I had seen them in 1999 on the "Panzer Division Marduk" tour. Its really great to see the band up and running in fine form again... its been too many years lingering in mediocrity and hopefully that will be over now.

Marduk - Deathmarch Tour
Blooddawn Productions, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

1. Steel Inferno (Alternative Version)
2. Tod und Vernichtung
3. The Hangman of Prague (Rehearsal)
4. Throne of Rats (Rehearsal)

To celebrate the tour of "Plague Angel" Marduk have put together this special EP. Here we get something pretty special. Prior to this Marduk's EP's have been sort of pointless to me, but if you notice "Steel Inferno" has an alternate version. This is the vocal performance I was more expecting from Mortuus. It is tortured and terrifying and makes the song sound entirely different. It doesn't matter that Morgan's guitar lines weren't that different, Mortuus' skill as a vocalist made the song sound entirely recast. Hopefully, you see why I had some criticism for his first outing with the band. "Tod und Vernichtung" is a slow and crushing instrumental. Sure its a new song, but its not a gem left off of the album. Its a very militaristic sounding song, but that's about it.

After this we get two extremely raw rehearsal tracks from Marduk. They actually don't sound too bad. I love hearing Emil's drums untriggered, they sound so much more devastating in this setting. Mortuus' vocals sound pretty solid as well, albeit way too loud in the mix. In some ways his performance sounds way more intense than the album versions, which makes this an interesting listen at the end. So, this is actually fairly worth getting, in my opinion.

Marduk - Plague Angel
Regain Records, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Hangman of Prague
2. Throne of Rats
3. Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets
4. Life's Emblem
5. Steel Inferno
6. Perish in Flames
7. Holy Blood, Holy Grail
8. Warschau
9. Deathmarch
10. Everything Bleeds
11. Blutrache

"Plague Angel" is the Marduk album I was hoping going to change things. Things were on their way to getting better with "World Funeral", just by having a drummer switch. Now Legion has left his vocal duties, which is probably for the best at this point. I feel like his writing was wavering at times and his voice just wasn't holding up anymore. On top of this B. War has also left the band and this is really a sad loss, since he is one of the best bassists in Black Metal. So, now we are back to a state of time like "Heaven Shall Burn," where Morgan is the only long running member. I mean, its his project, but to have a whole line-up change like this must be hard. However, maybe this is what Marduk truly needs fresh blood in the group to give it some really new direction, provided Morgan is open to new ideas from the new musicians. If not, Marduk may be stuck in a rut dead forever.

That being said, who did he get to replace Legion and B. War? Devo has replaced B. War and he was also involved with Allegiance, which is the only notable band I recognized from his CV. Legion has been replaced with one of the best vocalists in Black Metal, Arioch. However, here he has changed his name to Mortuus, but we should all know Arioch from Funeral Mist and Triumphator, albeit Funeral Mist is really the one you want to pay attention to the most. I think when I saw this announced, I have rarely been more excited for an album. Sometimes it takes one switch to really change things for a group. Unfortunately, I have also never been as disappointed in an album. When this first came out I hated it, but upon re-listening in 2014, perhaps I was a little bit too unfair given the state of Marduk's discography at the time. A lot of fans seem to have liked this album a lot, maybe people just wanted something even remotely different from the band and "Plague Angel" at least does that.

What "Plague Angel" doesn't do is give us a new approach to the guitar performance. These are all the same tried and tiresome guitar lines Marduk has been playing since "Heaven Shall Burn" and I think I realize what the real problem is. Ever since that time frame Marduk has always written music with the idea only one guitarist would be performing live. At first this sounded okay, but after so many years of it, I feel like its really time to branch out and started trying to write with two guitars in mind. It will add so much more to their music. They have an exceptional guitarist joining the band, Mortuus, and I was hoping who would help give the band some more interesting directions. The problem with "Plague Angel" is that it was likely already composed before he even joined the band. The unfortunate part of Mortuus' vocal performance is that he seems to have defaulted into "trying to sound like Legion", if you will. By that I mean, he focuses entirely on singing in the high range of the vocals, but this really isn't where his power lies. Listen to the vocals on "Deathmarch", an entirely Ambient track, but that is where Mortuus' real vocal prowess is. He shines when he can be extremely dynamic, shifting between highs and lows and everything in between. Luckily, he sounds more like Joakim af Grav rather than Legion. Maybe there wasn't enough time... but when I first heard this I was like "did Morgan bother to sit down and listen to 'Salvation' when he hired Mortuus?" This question really marred my experience on this album. They could have easily overcome the tried and true guitar lines by making the vocals and drums sound really fresh and different.

All that criticism being said, this is probably the best Marduk release in quite a few years. Even though it focuses on the punishing war machine approach most of the time like "Panzer Division Marduk" it just feels better all around. Emil's blasts don't just sound fast, they are fast. His patterns are a little more varied, which makes the album decent. I just feel with the new line-up big changes could potentially come in the future, and I really hope they do. Marduk deserve to be a top tier band and I think their line-up is much stronger now. It looks like the album layout and art direction is far stronger, it certainly mimics the layout of "Salvation", so it looks like the art direction is changing drastically. It, kind of, goes without saying Mortuus' lyrics are an excellent fresh direction to the topic department of the band. As usual, they belie someone who has spent time reading books, which gives them a really great edge. "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", I'm sure is influenced by the book "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, which I have also read. It's quite a good book, but it got most popular because it was referenced in Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code".

In the end, I look on this more favorably than when I had first listened to the album. This is certainly a good thing. I know bigger and better things are coming and I long for the day when Mortuus can infect this project with more of his influence in many ways. We will see how much control Morgan wishes to exert on the project, but what has been done before will no longer be worth our time.

Marduk - World Funeral
Regain Records, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. With Satan and Victorious Weapons
2. Bleached Bones
3. Cloven Hoof
4. World Funeral
5. To the Death's Head True
6. Castrum Doloris
7. Hearse
8. Night of the Long Knives
9. Bloodletting
10. Blessed Unholy
11. Blackcrowned

It's been a couple years since Marduk put out a full-length and that has probably been for the best. Both for fans and the band. I feel like the lack of direction in writing was really marring Marduk's style a lot. With "World Funeral" they take a step back and release a fairly safe album as far as I'm concerned. A major change has taken place in the band, and it is really a good change for everyone. Fred Andersson has given up his drum throne to Emil Dragutinovic, who some may recognize as drumming for The Legion. His drum lines are far more fresh and interesting. If you are familiar with his work in The Legion you will instantly know that he has a lot to add to Marduk and he's going to fix some of the more pressing problems in the bands overly monotonous sound.

I said earlier this was a "safe" album, and I think that's true. This is nothing all that new to the Marduk camp and in fact it heralds more back to the times of "Heaven Shall Burn" and "Nightwing", but the writing is a lot more solid than the past couple full-lengths. I think Emil's approach to drumming saves this album quite a bit and makes the music feel far more interesting to listen to. This really follows the arrangement pattern of "La Grande Danse Macabre" though, with the fast song, slow song, etc. approach. With the new drumming this really didn't feel nearly as tedious. Sometimes Morgan's riffing stands out a bit more than before, but its not a big enough change to really feel fresh. Songs like "Bloodletting" can get pretty boring as they drag on, but thankfully they didn't attempt anymore eight minute epics that go nowhere. The only real problem with this album is Legion's vocals. He sounds okay on here, but it is nowhere the power unleashed in the days of "Nightwing". In fact, when he tries to reach the higher range his voice seems to fail at moments. If he keeps it more of a mid-range his voice holds up... but anything beyond that is a former shadow of itself. Its sad to say, but it seems like his voice is really failing. This really hurt the album a lot, since it seems a lot of songs are designed around showcasing vocals. If the drumming had been painfully boring this probably would have wound up being one of Marduk's worst albums... instead it is just a decent album.

I can honestly take or leave this album. I remember really enjoying it on its release date when I first got the album. I think I liked this a lot back then simply because it was so much better than the prior two. I felt like I had been waiting a long time for Marduk to do something that was even halfway interesting to me, but overtime this isn't really a "classic" in their discography or anything. Its an okay album, but nothing more really. This isn't even a bad album by the greater Black Metal standards, in fact, it just sits in the middle of everything released. An album one can point to if someone wanted to hear what most Black Metal sounds like today.

Marduk - Hearse
Regain Records, 2003
Genre: Black Metal

1. Hearse
2. Phantasm (Possessed Cover)

I feel like I'm just buying Marduk products out of habit. They're usually not outright awful... just not the best material out there. "Hearse" is a single with only two tracks to showcase a teaser for the upcoming full-length "World Funeral". It has an interesting aspect to it, but it has nothing to really do with the music. "Hearse" opens with a sample of someone saying "The Funeral is about to begin, sir." This line is taken from the movie Phantasm, as said by the undertaker who appears in the picture on this cover. The choice of this sample may have lead to the choice of covering the song "Phantasm" by Possessed, who may have also been influenced by the movie. Seeing those connections was pretty interesting for me.

The new Marduk song isn't too bad. I feel like they're still trying to find that next big thing for them to do. While "Hearse" may not be that, it's not a bad song at all. The arrangement does a decent job of keeping the slow parts and fast parts manageable so it doesn't feel overly boring. So, while the song doesn't have anything new... maybe the songs will be arranged a little better. The second song is a Marduk cover done in the usual fashion for Marduk.

Marduk - La Grande Danse Macabre
Regain Records, 2001
Genre: Black Metal

1. Ars Moriendi
2. Azrael
3. Pompa Funebris 1660
4. Obedience Unto Death
5. Bonds of Unholy Matrimony
6. La Grande Danse Macabre
7. Death Sex Ejaculation
8. Funeral Bitch
9. Summer End
10. Jesus Christ... Sodomized

I remember being less than impressed with this release when I first got it. Despite being given some semblance of hope with "Obedience", these two releases do not stand the test of time and I don't think I've listened to them since around 2002. Revisiting this album in 2014 is a little better... but not too much. I think Marduk was well aware they couldn't go full speed ahead on this... Andersson's single pattern blasts just won't hold up for another entire album and keep any listener engaged. If you pay attention to his pattern it's actually not that fast, his system just sounds fast because he manages t hit a lot of different things, so it feels like there's a lot going on. My problem is that he just has no other approach to blast beats... so it sounds boring.

We get a little worried with "Azrael" as the opening first song, because it's basically another track off of "Panzer Division Marduk" with a vocal arrangement that tries to herald back to "Three Crosses" with the way it closes. However, things start to look up as "Obedience Unto Death" rears its ugly head. Here we have a rather thought out song and this keeps up with "Bond of Unholy Matrimony". Here Marduk attempt to play two epics in a row. "Bond of Unholy Matrimony" has some good stuff in it, but it's too long, Morgan's riffing isn't so intoxicating that we need to hear a ton of repetitions. After that we get to the title track, which attempts to be another slow crushing piece... just like "Bond of Unholy Matrimony" began. This song is, essentially, a Doom Metal song and it never lets up the slow pace. The riffing is good for three minutes, but not eight. They're just not that memorable... but I'm really not a Doom fan, so perhaps that's a problem for me. Realizing they'd been playing some slow material enter "Death Sex Ejaculation" a blast frenzy that is only saved by B.Wars bass line to make us even remotely interesting. I feel like this album has that arrangement the whole time... Doom Metal, blast beats, Doom Metal, blast beats, rinse and repeat.

When you realize this, maybe this album isn't as good. A lot of the material is essentially the type of slow material we heard on "Nightwing" and it does have good moments, but not all the time. The real reason this album sounded even remotely interesting is because of B. War's bass lines. For once they were actually pretty high in the mix and we got to hear how skilled of a bassist he really is.

In the end I'm left with really mixed feelings on this. It's not really an outright terrible album, but it isn't a stunner either. Far better albums were released in the world of Black Metal in the same year. I think I walk away with a more favorable impression than when I first heard it... but it hasn't won me over in the sense that I won't be listening to it again for, probably, another decade. It just doesn't have a timeless quality at all.

Marduk - Obedience
Blooddawn Productions, 2000
Genre: Black Metal

1. Obedience
2. Funeral Bitch
3. Into the Crypts of Rays (Celtic Frost Cover)

It always becomes a worrisome endeavor when a band resorts to putting pictures of naked women on their album art if they've never really done it before. Naturally, Marduk go for the "extreme" approach and have pictures of girls in bondage... which I guess goes with the theme of "Obedience". If you got the digipak version of this then you got an unmodified cover, which features a girl in latex on some horse thing. While I had thought of getting that one, I wanted the one with the frosted logo on the jewel case, which is what I got. The album art seems to focus mostly around nipple torture... hey if that's what you're into, that's what you're into. I'm certainly not opposed to girls in latex, but I would never use it as album art. Not even Dark Funeral went this route when they had songs like "Latex Queen" even. So, I approached this release with some trepidation, you could say.

Maybe its because my expectations were wavering... but it turns out the music was pretty good on here. The song has a good balance between being intense and interesting. The chorus riff for "Obedience" is actually relatively catchy. Not only that, but B. War's bass line really stands out and makes that riff shine. It's just disappointing to hear Andersson still using the one blast pattern over and over that he discovered on parts of "Nightwing"... its like this is the only thing we'll ever get from him now. "Funeral Bitch" slows things down a lot and here we have a heavy and brooding song. It actually has elements of atmosphere that are interesting, but much of it is not that interesting. I feel like Marduk actually spent time putting effort into the composition and once again B.War's bass line really makes sections of this song shine. Andersson even has an alright drum line, its simple, but it gets the job done. Still, it's a far cry from the arrangements on "Opus Nocturne". Then this release closes with a decent cover of Celtic Frost's "Crypt of Rays". Like the covers on "Glorification" Marduk keep the material true to form, but with new production and Black Metal vocals.

The lyrics are basically about having bondage sex and things like that. Is this what Black Metal has come down to topically? On one hand, I can totally understand wanting to sing about something different after all these years. I can understand being at a point where "wow...  I can only say Jesus is dumb so many ways...", but I just feel like this borders going down the Glam Metal route. Which is what I associate with this kind of stuff... I mean what will be the Black Metal version of "Cherry Pie", I shutter to think of this. I just feel like Black Metal is better than this, but in the end we're all human and our interests are where they are.

Marduk - Infernal Eternal
Blooddawn Productions, 2000
Genre: Black Metal

Disk 1:
1. Panzer Division Marduk
2. Burn My Coffin
3. Baptism by Fire
4. The Sun Turns Black as Night
5. Of Hells Fire
6. 502
7. Materialized in Stone
8. Beast of Prey
9. Those of the Unlight
10. Sulphur Souls
11. Dreams of Blood and Iron
12. Fistfucking Gods Planet

Disk 2:
1. On Darkened Wings
2. Into the Crypts of Rays (Celtic Frost Cover)
3. Stil lFucking Dead
4. Slay the Nazarene
5. Departure from the Mortals
6. Legion

1. Panzer Division Marduk
2. Burn My Coffin
3. Baptism by Fire

After only a couple full-lengths Marduk saw fit to release this live performance from their "Panzer Division Marduk" tour. In some regards its not a bad idea, since the songs really were meant to be seen... but the problem here is they are meant to be seen. At the very least there is a multi-media video for us to watch a live performance of the band during a set in France. This is only limited to 15,000 copies though to get the second disk. Wow... 15,000 seems like a far cry from the usual Black Metal limitations of 500 or less... what happened to 666 copies? I guess Marduk have really reached that status where that is just too little of a pressing.

The recording quality is pretty good and up there with "Live in Germania", but I think "Live in Germania" was a stronger live album in some ways. "Infernal Eternal" does try to do a good job at encompassing their discography. This is heavy on their newer material, but that is to be expected at this point. I thin one of the major issues I had with this is Legion's voice didn't hold up like it did on "Live in Germania". Maybe there isn't enough reverb or something, but it seems to crack out at times and just doesn't feel as solid as on the recordings. Some of the recordings are better than others, so perhaps those recordings are taken from a set where he was having an off night or his voice was just dead from heavy touring. I remember seeing them live on the tour for the US and it went pretty well, so I think the live experience might give them a lot more edge than a live album these days. With that in mind they did include three live recordings on the second disk. Make sure your computer has quick time though... The performances are recorded alright... there's heavy focus on zooming in on Legion, so hopefully you like his performance. I think this had more to do with the fact that it was just one stationary camera and they did try to pan around to the other members, but the stage being so dark it made it almost pointless to do this, so they just mostly settled on Legion front and center with Fred Andersson in the background staring off into space while he beats the hell out of his drums.

It's a pretty decent release and the booklet has a lot of pictures to look at, but I just think its too soon after "Live in Germania" in some ways. I feel like we just listened to a live set from Marduk... I didn't need another one so soon. However, there is one major incentive to check this out, this has all the lyrics for the set list. So, remember all those early Marduk albums... even "Panzer Division Marduk", that didn't have lyrics, now you can read them here. I'm actually shocked to see that "Christraping Black Metal" was not included in this set list... I figured that would be a "must play live" track. I would say this release is only for the major die-hards out there... or people like me who just buy almost everything from the bands they really enjoy.

Marduk - Panzer Division Marduk
Osmose Productions, 1999
Genre: Black Metal

1. Panzer Division Marduk
2. Baptism by Fire
3. Christraping Black Metal
4. Scorched Earth
5. Beast of Prey
6. Blooddawn
7. 502
8. Fistfucking God's Planet

Following in the wake of "Nightwing" it seems Marduk is running out of ideas. "Panzer Division Marduk" really embraces the notion of the Black Metal war machine, which a lot of the more vicious bands are being branded as. In that regard, we are treated to thirty minutes of music in basically the same guise as "Nightwing's" chapter I... only faster.

"Panzer Division Marduk" seems to be the "go to" album for the more modern fans of Marduk. I remember at the time Marduk cited that during this time a lot of bands were putting out lighter material and Marduk wanted to release something that was an all out assault on the senses. In some ways they did succeed, but in many others it was almost too much. The riffing doesn't really capture anyones imagination. The closest they get to "catchy" is parts of "Christraping Black Metal". The other massive problem is the drum performance. While I understand it is all blast beats and that's kind of the point, the problem I have is that it is the same blast beats. It's almost like Andersson hit upon this sequence of drumming during the "Nightwing" recordings that has made him forget that other drum patterns exist. I remember a friend of mine posted a review to the extent of "One riff, one beat, gets you one star." While I don't think the album is that bad, its still not exceptional either. I think another reason why I was bored with this album in 1999 is because I feel like a lot of that approach to Black Metal had been happening over the years. Despite what Marduk claimed about the era, I certainly had my fair share of pummeling and fast Black Metal during the late 90's. I will say, I think the songs come off better in a live setting than on CD, since when I saw them on this tour they were fit well for a live audience.

I think this album garners a sort of "love/hate" aspect to it. I know a lot of fans love the intensity of the album... but in the fast of their past discography, this is a cheap thrill at best. And that's about all I can say about it. It doesn't have any lasting memories for me. Building the essence of World War II is an interesting idea... but bands like Endstille would come along and do it so much better.

Marduk - Nightwing
Osmose Productions, 1998
Genre: Black Metal

Chapter I: Dictionaire Infernal
1. Preludium
2. Bloodtide (XXX)
3. Of Hells Fire
4. Slay the Nazarene
5. Nightwing
Chapter II: The Warlord of Wallachia
6. Dreams of Blood and Iron
7. Dracole Wayda
8. Kaziklu Bey (The Lord Impaler)
9. Deme Quaden Thyrane
10. Anno Domini 1476

In historical perspective "Nightwing" as an album has been heralded as Marduk's downfall. In some ways that is somewhat true. It would take years and serious line-up changes to do something that reaches beyond "Nightwing". Some call this the pinnacle of the bands efforts. I'm not sure that's true because "Opus Nocturne" is an extremely good album, for extremely different reasons. "Nightwing" advances the style that was original laid out on "Heaven Shall Burn" and with "Nightwing", I sort of do agree that this style has peaked. That being said, at the time of its release I had a very different perspective on this and so did everyone else I knew at the time.

"Nightwing" was hailed as one of the most intense Black Metal albums around. During this late 90's time frame I feel like the more popular bands that were known had really major problems with trying to figure out what do with Black Metal. They'd really explored the genre very deeply and the question of "what is next, became pretty hard to answer. For Marduk they would stick with the style that first showed up on "Heaven Shall Burn". However, this album is split into two separate chapters, the first chapter takes the intensity of "Heaven Shall Burn" and basically plays it non-stop. This really makes for an incredible assault on the senses and is akin to the type of pummeling we're used to from Death Metal bands. Marduk manage to do an excellent job casting this in a Black Metal approach. While Legion may not be the most dynamic of vocalists... but in the early 90's, who really was? Not everyone can try to be Attila and, frankly, most Black Metal vocalists stick to a particular vocal tone, so everyone who complains about this confuses me to some degree.  Legion did an exceptional job on this album, in my opinion at any rate. The closing layering of "Of Hells Fire" sounds brilliant! Not to mention this has one of the more vicious Black Metal songs for its time "Slayer the Nazarene", which is still one of my favorite Marduk songs. Maybe I am a bit nostalgic with this release, but listening to it always conjures fond memories. I do understand some of the complaints for this section of the album, there is very little variation, but with only four songs it's just the right length to listen to this kind of material in this vein. A lot of the songs seem to be designed around being able to showcase Legion's vocal performance and I think he manages to deliver in that regard.

The second chapter really finishes up the sequence on the true story of Dracula. Something the history buff in me really appreciates. Albeit I have never actually read a book about the historical man. In any event this really varies up the album a lot. The songs on this section tend to be far more brooding and dark compared to the intensity of the first chapter. Here they've also delivered an updated recording of "Deme Quaden Thyrane", which first appeared on "Opus Nocturne". The strange thing here is they didn't include "Dracul va Domni din Nou in Transilvania" from "Heaven Shall Burn". I really think it would've been a great idea to include the full sequence in one sitting, but perhaps they figured that was already recorded to satisfaction. The lyrical content on this section was extremely well done and between Chapter I and II, I really walked away thinking Legion was a very above average writer in the scene of Black Metal.

This is really where Marduk's more modern sound took off. To some peoples joy and others dismay, but wherever you come down on their discography a lot of people enjoyed "Nightwing" quite immensely when it was originally released. Sometimes it is tough to look back on these releases and remember what it was like back then and sometimes the release doesn't hold up to the test of time, for me, I feel "Nightwing" really does. The real question becomes... what's next for the band?

Marduk - Here's No Peace
Shadow Records, 1997
Genre: Black/Death Metal

1. Here's No Peace
2. Still Fucking Dead
3. Within the Abyss

Also this year we get an interesting treat of some lost Marduk recordings. Back in 1991 there was supposed to be a 7" release of an EP titled "Here's No Peace", so the band went into Dan Swanö's studio to record a couple songs. The end result is "Here's No Peace". However, this material never saw the light of day until now, because rather than put this out they went ahead and just released "Dark Endless" instead. At the time I think that was probably a smart move, because having the opportunity to put together a full-length is usually a better plan starting out. That being said it is really interesting to revisit this material now. I got this around when it came out and a lot of the Death Metal influences in Marduk had been stripped away. So, to hear this original recordings was really nice. I feel like this is even heavier than their debut and demo material. It makes me wonder what Marduk would have become if they never decided to strip this out of their sound. I am pretty happy with the way Marduk sound up to this point so far, so I am not that disappointed... but if they never stopped being a Black/Death band, I wonder where they would stand today. Anyway, a very cool collectors item to have and worth hearing if you are interesting in the history of this band. On a fun side note, this was released by Tena, who was the founder of Triumphator, which featured members of Marduk as well.

Marduk - Live in Germania
Osmose Productions, 1997
Genre: Black Metal

1. Beyond the Grace of God
2. Sulphur Souls
3. The Black...
4. Darkness it Shall Be
5. Materilized in Stone
6. Infernal Eternal
7. On Darkened Wings
8. Wolves
9. Untrodden Paths (Wolves Pt. II)
10. Dracul va Domni...
11. Legion
12. Total Desaster (Destruction Cover)

Bringing Black Metal to the stage is something had been going on for quite some time. Marduk, at this point, had gotten the reputation for being quite the intense live performance. So, as their reputation as a band and their live reputation grew it became time to release the obligatory live album. As Mayhem before them Marduk would travel to Germany and record a live that clocks in at nearly an hour in length. It comes with a booklet that has a lot of band photos documenting the live performances, which is a very welcome addition.

This was recorded during their tour for "Heaven Shall Burn" and despite that they played a really solid list of songs comprising of more than just their modern catalog. This is a great thing, because I don't think they revisited this much of their first three albums after this. This also captures a time frame before Marduk became just a tiresome blast fest in the later years. Here we can relive their far more dynamic era and the production is actually very good on this. Sure, maybe Legion doesn't sound as tortured and intense on the original material that Joakim performed, but he does do a solid job with his vocals in the mix. The other part that really makes this stand out is now B. War is pretty high in the mix and we can really hear how complex his bass lines were for a lot of the songs. It makes me wish he was a bit louder in the mix, because he really does add an interesting quality to Marduk's music. Another treat on this tour was that those who attended got to see Peter Tagtgren help out with a second guitar. This must have been an immense set to witness, since I have never seen Marduk live with two guitars. Not to mention they performed the "Wolves" sequence in succession, which must have been extremely awesome to see.

In the end, this album is actually pretty good. Usually I'm pretty indifferent towards "live" albums and I can honestly do without them in the grand scheme of a discography. However, in this case, this might be a nice set to capture, since it is probably unlike anything Marduk would ever do in the more modern era.

Marduk - Glorification
Osmose Productions, 1996
Genre: Black Metal

1. Glorification of the Black God (Remixed Version)
2. Total Desaster (Destruction Cover)
3. Sex with Satan (Piledriver Cover)
4. Sodomize the Dead (Piledriver Cover)
5. The Return of Darkness & Evil (Bathory Cover)

Marduk have finally entered the EP fray, which a lot of other bands seem to be doing by 1996. The sad part about this release is that rather than release this a year later, they release it a few months after "Heaven Shall Burn". So there really isn't any new material on here. The opening track is a "remix" of a song featured on "Heaven Shall Burn". I'm no music engineer, but figuring out how these tracks sound different is proving challenging to me. If this is a remix in any fashion, its really weak and a waste of our time.

After this we get a whole slew of cover songs. They're all rooted in the Thrash Metal genre, so if you were curious about what Marduk would sound like if they played 80's Thrash instead of Black Metal, this will answer that question. They do a decent job with them. They try to preserve the original instrumentation as much as possible. They just add Black Metal vocals and updated production values really. So, if you are a fiend for that stuff you should this out... otherwise there really isn't anything new worth hearing on here.

Marduk - Heaven Shall Burn, When We are Gathered
Osmose Productions, 1996
Genre: Black Metal

1. Summon the Darkness
2. Beyond the Grace of God
3. Infernal Eternal
4. Glorification of the Black God
5. Darkness it Shall Be
6. The Black Tormentor of Satan
7. Dracul va Domni din Nou in Transilvania
8. Legion

Well… all that’s left is Morgan Håkansson as being the only original member left in Marduk.  Joakim, who did vocals on “Opus Nocturne” has departed and vocals have been taken over by the enigmatic Legion.  As I finally get around to writing this in 2007, I think this is one of the more overlooked albums in Marduk’s history.  “Heaven Shall Burn” is easily one of my favorite releases from them, but everyone seems to point to things like “Panzer Division Marduk” for a “good” album, I’m not sure where people come up with these crazy ideas.  Anyway, “Heaven Shall Burn” would surely pave the way for Marduk’s famed album “Nightwing”.

The first difference between the prior releases of “Dark Endless,” “Those of the Unlight” and even “Opus Nocturne” is how ferocious and intense this album sounds.  “Heaven Shall Burn” is by far the most intense delivery from Marduk, and quite possibly one of the most intense releases in Black Metal for it’s time.  I can’t think of a single band in 1996 off hand that can match this.  Then again, I've heard something like 900 different Black Metal bands and when, easily, thirty percent of them copy Marduk it’s hard to really break everything apart after this many years.  That doesn’t change the fact that this album always stood out to me.

When you compare earlier Marduk vocal performances with what’s being done on “Heaven Shall Burn,” I don’t think the earlier vocal tones really would have worked as on the prior material.  I think changing to using Legion to front the band was a smart move.  He was originally in Ophthalamia and he gave good performances there, but he really complements Marduk perfectly for this new shift in music.  His voice just has a certain flow to it that gives Marduk that extra edge of cohesiveness, which has the effect of added intensity.  Marduk has surely become a well oiled war machine.  Not to mention for the first time Marduk has finally printed their lyrics for us to see!  The first three albums’ lyrics wouldn't be released until much later in their career, so when I first got this I was shocked to see lyrics.  For the most part they are the usual pro-Satanic and pro-war based lyrics that are found within Black Metal.  However, this is back when that subject was still fairly fresh to the world for the most part.  The only major shift is in the track “Dracul va Domni din Nou in Transilvania” which focuses on the true story of Vlad Dracul. You may remember seeing something like this on "Opus Nocturne" with the song "Deme Quaden Thyrane" and the story is developed further her with "Heaven Shall Burn." It's a lot more meaningful on this release, because here we get to actually read the lyrics that go with the story... rather than wondering what it is all about on "Opus Nocturne". The rest of the tale would be picked up on the “Nightwing” album.

As I mentioned earlier this was musically much more ferocious for Marduk.  I don’t think anyone was really expecting this kind of intensity, and I know it sort of set the stage for what some Black Metal bands would strive to outdo.  However, despite this fierceness Marduk managed to switch it up enough to keep people interested without getting bored.  I think many will also be surprised to hear that this album also has a lot of fairly melodic guitar passages, yet maintains the intensity.  There are a couple tracks that are all blast beats, but it’s balanced against tracks that mix it up.  So this album really had an excellent blend of drumming that was blasting away and drumming that was fairly mid-paced and allowed listeners to change focus.  If you’re a classical music fan, like me, you’ll recognize “Glorification of the Black God” as not being composed by Marduk, but being composed by Mussorgsky.  It’s the track “Night on Bald Mountain.”  I think Marduk’s rendition of it is “glorious” (pun intended).  I always pictured Mussorgsky as being a fan of extreme Metal, if he existed today, whenever I listen to his work; he’s one of those heavier classical composers, in my opinion.  Marduk’s choice in this was great, it’s a pretty well known track, but I think Mussorgsky had some even heavier works on his “Picture’s from an Exhibition” piece.  Marduk also slow the pace down for “Dracul va Domni din Nou in Transilvania.” I think this is exactly what this kind of song needed conceptually; it’s an epic story so the slow pace gives it that daunting and brooding feel.

Marduk, for the first time also, gave their listeners a real treat with a large booklet to look through.  The art and layout complement the music wonderfully.  Though, I must say that I've always preferred the artwork on “Those of the Unlight.”  I really like that cover a lot.  “Heaven Shall Burn” had a cover that was a little too comic book styled art for me, but it is a step up from the “Dark Endless” cover.  Just when compared against “Those of the Unlight” it wasn't as good to me.  I did think it was cool that all the characters shields bear the Marduk logo; I thought that was very inventive.

Ultimately what we have here is one of Marduk’s greatest works.  They pushed the envelope incredibly far in Black Metal and left a lot of bands trying to match or outdo this incredible intensity.  I would highly recommend this opus to anyone, and just remember if you’re a new buyer of this, this was released before this sound started to get old.  This was fresh and practically unheard of back then.  The war machine of Marduk made its face known with this and it would scarcely be forgotten!  Death to peace!

Marduk - Opus Nocturne
Osmose Productions, 1994
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro / The Appearance of Spirits of Darkness
2. Sulphur Souls
3. From Subterranean Throne Profound
4. Autumnal Reaper
5. Materialized in Stone
6. Untrodden Paths (Wolves Part II)
7. Opus Nocturne
8. Deme Quaden Thyrane
9. The Sun has Failed

Another year another Marduk album. Luckily not much has changed from the gold they struck on "Those of the Unlight". There has been a further line-up change over the year and "Opus Nocturne" features a new drummer with Frederik Andersson. This way Joakim can focus solely on the vocal performances, which is a smart move, because he gives a really good voice to the style Marduk is performing. Andersson's drumming is great and this album seems to be a lot more demanding in the speed arrangements, so he adds a really good dimension to that.

Like "Those of the Unlight", "Opus Nocturne" doesn't waste much time getting into the meat of the album. A mild intro that is less than a minute in length and they we are off with "Sulphur Souls". It really does have all the atmosphere and intensity we loved from "Those of the Unlight". The tracks are a lot more dynamic than that though and the album is really wonderfully arranged in that regard. Its not all blast beats and screams, these songs are really thoughtful arranged and tracks like "Materialized in Stone" slow things down giving things a very different feel to what the genre can bring us. This album truly has everything that Black Metal should represent. This is also where the telling of the true story of Dracula started showing up in Marduk's discography. At that time I don't think they had the Dracula project really well formulated in their heads, because this song appears again later on "Nightwing".

This is still a monumental release in the Marduk discography. It's extremely varied and every song is very well written with a level of passion that rivals many future Black Metal bands, who simply attempt to mimic this. A great and timeless release as well...

Marduk - Those of the Unlight
Osmose Productions, 1993
Genre: Black Metal

1. Darkness Breeds Immortality
2. Those of the Unlight
3. Wolves
4. On Darkened Wings
5. Burn My Coffin
6. A Sculpture of the Night
7. Echoes from the Past
8. Stone Stands it's Silent Vigil

"Those of the Unlight" stands legendary in our modern times. This is, truly, Marduk's first pure Black Metal album. It's fairly impressive that such a huge change in sound would occur in just one year. Unfortunately, for this album Andreas Axelsson has left on vocal duties and now they are being handled by drummer Joakim af Gravf. I think his voice fits this sound extremely well, even better than Andreas'. Joakim's voice is a lot more hollow sounding and just sounds so much more tortured when he screams. Definitely, a great decision on the bands behalf.

"Those of the Unlight" is really where Marduk infuses a huge amount of atmosphere into their sound, making this sound a lot more like a Black Metal album. Seriously, the entire Death Metal aspect of Marduk has been completely stripped away. They've recast the project with a lot more Black Metal in the atmosphere. I feel like, in many ways, they are channeling a less melodic version of Dissection with the way the guitar lines work combined with Immortal. This is a really well done album showing how intense Black Metal can get at times. This gave rise to such classic songs as "Wolves", which seems to have become a fan favorite of this release. The overall presentation of these songs has a so much more darkness in the feeling than ever before, which really makes this a stand-out release for Marduk and, especially, these early days of Black Metal. Its interesting to note that the album closes with a fairly calm and powerful epic outro in the guise of "Stone Stands it's Silent Vigil." This is a really different kind of song for Marduk and really shows the diversity of the musicians on one hand. On the other... I feel like its and odd outro for this type of album. Sure the song sounds beautiful and has a very somber atmosphere, but does it really fit with the rest of the songs? I guess it, basically does, since Marduk take their mood in more than one direction throughout the release.

In the end, this album is hailed as being pretty legendary amidst the Black Metal fans all over the world. Even though I haven't listened to this album in years, it really has a timeless quality to it that holds up over the decades. The real challenge for Marduk was to now see if they could release and album that was just as good. They're certainly off to a solid start with their first two releases.

Marduk - Dark Endless
No Fashion Records, 1992
Genre: Black/Death Metal

1. Still Fucking Dead (Here's No Peace)
2. The Sun Turns Black as Night
3. Within the Abyss
4. The Funeral Seemed to be Endless
5. Departure from the Mortals
6. The Black...
7. Dark Endless
8. Holy Inquisition

It seems shortly after Marduk released their demo they were swiftly signed to the young label No Fashion Records. At the time they were very new, but over the years No Fashion Records would go on to sign some very legendary bands over its lifetime. I remember picking this album up in about '95 or '96 for about eighteen USD and being mad at how expensive it was. But it was worth it back in those days, finding this kind of material was not that easy. I also remember feeling very ripped off at such a price. Opening the booklet there was just nothing inside the folded sheet of paper. Just a white space, it was pretty frustrating back then.

"Dark Endless" really continues the sound originally shown to us on their demo. There really isn't much deviation from that style, which is good, because all the songs from the demo are also included on this album. So here we have the early Swedish Black Metal scene transitioning out of its major Death Metal assault to the world. The trappings of Entombed and Dismember are still inherent in Marduk's sound, though they have thinned out their guitar tone a lot more to have more of a Black Metal style. Still, when they play some of the slower sections the riffing is reminiscent of bands in the Death Metal scene. I think Marduk are really trying to enter a slightly different realm of Black Metal here, not just because its a Death Metal hybrid, but because they're playing a far more uncompromising style. Aside from the slow Death Metal their Black Metal is a lot faster and far more intense than a lot of other bands at this time. I think "Dark Endless" would go on to influence a whole different generation of Black Metal. The only unfortunate thing I can say about this is that due to the volume of Death Metal and focus on intensity, this doesn't have that much of a dark atmosphere. Instead the feeling of this album comes off to be more like Entombed's "Clandestine", which isn't necessarily a bad thing. So, it has a dark feeling to it, but it is hardly icy cold like the Black Metal being performed in Norway at the time. Either way, I remember really enjoying this album when I found it, it really wasn't like anything else I had at the time and I can only imagine what that was really like in 1992.

Overall, Marduk has an excellent debut here. I'm not sure this release really gets the recognition it deserves, but before all those other bands were playing really fast Black Metal, Marduk was there already doing that. Then again, people seem to easily forget the time something is released, despite the fact it is clearly printed on the CD itself. Ah well, now a classic in their discography at least.

Marduk - Demo #1
Self-Released, 1991
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro/Fuck Me Jesus
2. Departure from the Mortals
3. The Black...
4. Within the Abyss
5. Outro/Shut Up and Suffer

As you can clearly see, I missed out on the original demo tape release of this, now fairly legendary, demo. Back in 1991 it was just titled "Demo #1", but based on the opening track it was later re-released in 1994 as "Fuck Me Jesus". This is the version I own and it comes in a slimline case. While I'm sure the original tape had some kind of limitation, I'm not sure what that limitation was. I also couldn't find a really nice scan of the cover to share on here.

While, I list the genre above as solely Black Metal, there might actually be some debate for that listing. This demo was a fairly interesting release at its time, because it wasn't like the Black Metal we all heard coming out of Norway at the same time. Sure, it was played in a similar manner, but this was so much heavier than what the Norwegians were playing. Marduk leans pretty heavily on the guitar tone of the Swedish Death Metal scene for this release. The opening song "Departure from the Mortals" sounds like something we'd hear from Entombed or Edge of Sanity at the time. Perhaps Andreas Axelsson's, from Edge of Sanity, involvement on vocals here lead to help with these production values. So, with that tone in mind, Marduk has decided to play Black Metal, but the tinges of Death Metal are truly inescapable at times in their writing. You may be able to argue that this is a hybrid between the genres in many ways. When Marduk perform slower pieces like "The Black..." and some riffs in "Within the Abyss" it almost borders on a Doom Metal level, but that swiftly changes and the Black Metal is undeniable. The vocals are totally rooted in Black Metal and bear the usual influences of performances like Darkthrone and Mayhem at the time. While the demo opened with a blasphemous intro, a sample from the movie Exorcist... you know the scene, where the girl is shoving the cross in her crotch; the outro, on the other hand, is heavily rooted in early 90's video game music. Seems kind of an odd way to close out the album and I feel they probably shouldn't have even bothered with it.

In the end this demo had a lot of different elements. At times, maybe too many, because while this Black Metal is rooted in the Death Metal tone, it doesn't have the same level of cold atmosphere typical to Black Metal. Instead it has more of the intensity and power of Death Metal. So, it is kind of interesting from this point of view. We'll see what Marduk produce in the future though, this is just a demo and just a taste of what the band is working on at this time.