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A live overview of Marduk's career - 94%

MaDTransilvanian, November 30th, 2008

Blackcrowned is the final instalment I've acquired in the trilogy that is Marduk's three live DVDs. I'm pretty sure that the DVD's content is identical to what is to be found in the VHS included in the band's identically named boxed set which they released three years earlier, mostly due to the fact that they have the same name and the same picture of the statue of an angel on the cover, but due to equipment difficulties I've been unable to watch the tape up to this day. Either way, when I got this I was expecting a decent Legion-era Marduk show but nothing more and I was pleasantly surprised when I watched it.

The DVD actually doesn't consist of one big gig but of a series of smaller samples of concerts, each one containing between one and four songs from throughout the band's career up to the release of the Blackcrowned boxed set in 2002. This is vastly more interesting than one single Legion-era show because it avoids focusing only on what is the band's most “comfortable” phase around the 1999-2003 period while it also portrays the band throughout the 90's, including shows from as early as 1992, giving this DVD great historical value for anyone interested in Marduk's history and their various line-ups throughout the band's first decade of existence.

There are shows here in which the band's vocalist was Andreas Axelsson (their first vocalist, who only did vocals for the Fuck Me Jesus demo/EP, the first album and the Here’s no Peace EP) and hearing him perform live is most interesting, as are the live performances featuring the band's second vocalist, Joakim Gothberg, who I also consider to be their best vocalist (he did vocals for Those of the Unlight and Opus Nocturne). Surprisingly enough, the band's old shows were recorded very well and the sound is actually good, which is a big contrast to, for example, Darkthrone's old live recordings.

The song selection is quite good, the majority of the songs being from the first three albums and while there are no songs from their excellent Nightwing album this isn't so much of a problem as this DVD focuses on the earliest part of Marduk's history. Therefore those among you who dislike the newer more blastbeat-happy Marduk may actually enjoy this, since there are only a few songs off the newer (at the time) Panzer Division Marduk and La Grande Danse Macabre albums. As such this DVD consists of either the death metal-oriented songs off the first album or the purer black metal on the three follow-up albums, which keep blasting to a (relative) minimum while focusing on the coldness of the vocal delivery and the extremely competent riffs written by band founder and main guitarist Morgan Håkansson.

I strongly suggest any fan of Marduk get this excellent live DVD as it's a great way to see how the band sounded live at various stages in their existence with the line-ups of the time. The DVD itself isn't very richly packaged with extras, there are only two tracks off the La Grande Danse Macabre album played live as “bonuses” while there's no booklet, just a fold-out with a play list on one side and a miniature of Pietr Brueghel the Elder's macabre masterpiece The Triumph of Death, on of Marduk's recurring influences throughout their career. Blackcrowned probably isn't the number one way to get into Marduk because recognising which song belongs where in their history isn't necessarily easy given the large number of different concerts here, but most fans of black metal can definitely enjoy this great DVD.