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Far from their oft-ridiculed, relentlessly fast, somewhat indistinguishable "Norsecore" material of '96 onwards, on their first 3 albums Sweden's Marduk were one of the more notable bands in the field. Creating unique atmospheres with idiosyncratic riffing that was fast when necessary, yet slowed down at times to allow their music to breathe more with varied moods and textures. Those of the Unlight and Opus Nocturne are bonafide black metal classics in my eyes. Dark Endless, the first, is also a very good album. However, it finds the band operating within a much more death metal focused sound.
I think this album is quite underrated. In fact, I'd go as far declaring it to be my favourite Swedish death metal album. There is such a unique atmosphere to Dark Endless that I haven't heard on any other album, and it radiates utter blackness and disgust for life that is atypical for this style of music, as (for example) things like Left Hand Path are much more "fun" and empowering in nature to my perception. Death metal is rarely what I would call depressive. This however, is dark, evil as fuck death metal for misanthropic moods. Morgan Haakanson set out to create "the most evil band ever". With this album, I daresay he succeeded.
The bizarre cover art sets the tone, and with "The Eye of Funeral" you can almost feel yourself drifting along the stream in the center of the image, in some abstract dream world. Suddenly, the atonal tremolo picking and morbid screams of "Still Fucking Dead" enter the picture. This is one of the more upbeat and catchy numbers on the album, and works perfectly well to draw the listener in. This is one of the more straightforwardly death metal songs on the album. Frankly I do prefer the ones that mix death metal with more mid-paced, even slow doom elements. One track that really demonstrates this well is "The Black", re-recorded from the legendary Fuck Me Jesus demo of a year prior. The closing riff is one of the darkest to be found in all of extreme metal. Gloom and doom to the max. Great stuff. Another track from that blasphemous demo, "Departure From the Mortals", is present in a somewhat inferior version. Its still the same song, and it rules, but I have a sentimental attachment to the original Fuck Me Jesus one for being THE most brutal thing I had ever heard at the time I first heard it.
"The Funeral Seemed to Be Endless" is my personal highlight from this album. This album should really be classed as doom/death along with Asphyx, old MDB and so on. Explosive blastbeats melt into almost painfully slow doom riffs that pick up the pace for the addictive closing section of the song that sadly, is not endless. The title track offers a brief respite in the form of a moody clean guitar intro, before perhaps summing up the ethos of this album the best of any of the tracks. "The darkness is complete..."
I strongly recommend listening to this album, along with the following two albums. This one in particular shows a completely different side to the band, while Those... and Opus Nocturne are at least recognizably black metal, Dark Endless shows that Marduk was equally as capable as a death metal outfit. I sometimes wonder how a sequel to this album would have sounded if they hadn't radically reinvented themselves on Those of the Unlight. Still, the reality preserves this album as a unique one in their discography. Personally I think it deserves to be held in the same regard as more widely acknowledged classics of Swedish death such Left Hand Path, Across the Horizon, Dark Recollections, and others. Try it.
Ploughing through the depths of Marduk's impressive discography, Century Media have seen fit to give the blasphemous Swedes' debut LP "Dark Endless" the re-release treatment. Originally seeing the light (or darkness?) of day at the height of the second wave of black metal's heyday in 1992 the half-hour assault of "Dark Endless" serves both as a testimony to the timeless appeal of classic underground metal sound as well as to the band's longevity as this in no way is the suggestion of a band irrelevant to the current day reissues can sometimes be. Eerie discordant opener "The Eye of Funeral" is a track all on it's own here unlike on the original edition, leaving the subtly-titled "Still Fucking Dead (Here's No Peace)" as a stand alone track to bring forth the metal in the same no holds barred manner Marduk have always done so. With a production job that reveals every individual snare and kickdrum hit and a frontman in Dread intent on tearing out his larynx even this tidy up job feels humanly brutal and incisive in a way that modern-sounding extreme metal records simply do not, and this works to highlight the underground fire that is evident throughout.
Like many a BM record at the time there lingers the meaty kick of unbridled death metal in the blood of most track here, notably the like of "The Sun Turns Black As Night" and "The Funeral Seemed To Be Endless" which help carry Marduk up the ladder of extremity. The feel of these is very much of the blue-collar style death metal that was being pumped out by Incantation at the time, which results in the prominent feel of darkness across the record. The title track hammers hard and causes heads to bang through it's course, "Holy Inquisition" is a slow-burner at first bearing strong resemblance to Hypocrisy of old before picking up the speed in a very fluid manner while "Within The Abyss", "Departure From The Mortals" and "The Black…" are the less spectacular, albeit solid tracks making up the middle of the album which passes by in a blaze of glory leaving the listener wanting more.
Thankfully in the case of this reissue we get just that with 4 live and 2 rehearsal tracks. Such is the quality of recording in the live tracks it is unlikely all but the most die-hard of Marduk fans will give these repeat listens but they prove that in 1991, like today, a Marduk show was not a gentle place to be. The 2 rehearsal tracks are similarly gloomy but full of the kind of raw youthful energy that is utterly essential to the continued survival of these genres of music we so love. Released at a time when there are countless classic records to look back upon in the black and death metal genres, "Dark Endless" does not sit quite in those lofty standards but it still remains a very brutal and worthy slab of black/death metal over 20 years later. My single biggest compliment that can be paid to Marduk however is the quality of their recent material for they are a band still very much at the forefront of all that is blasphemous black metal.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
If you believe the hyper in the mind-90’s, when Marduk were on the quest for fastest and most obscene, you would be in for some sort of culture shock when you finally played this album. Forget everything you know about these Swedish beasts and you will be pleasantly surprised.
The whole album kicks off with an untitled intro which would in later pressings be titled The Eye of Funeral, an eerier piano part played with some discordant strings giving this listener a slightly uncomfortable feeling. As soon as you catch your breath and your sanity, Marduk kicks in the door with lots of cold riffs, tempo changes and a set of vocals that seem to channel demons.
I must say that, for a band this early in their career, they are very adapt at handling their roles in the band. Andreas seems to channel the Ancient Ones, filled with anger, with every verbal lashing he hands out. Joakim Göthberg seems to fill the drumming position nicely, and would for years to come. Main man Morgan seems to share guitar duties with Devo Andersson, something he would later want full control of. And Rickard Kalm seems to fill in the bassist slot well enough, but you can tell that he doesn’t really fit there.
Musically, the combinations of the individuals play a variety of slower, doom-laden death metal (see Within the Abyss, Dark Endless and Holy Inquisition), mid-paced burners (The Sun Turned Black as Night and Departure from the Mortals) and some truly blistering fast black metal songs (the rest of the songs).
Also, the music while being fairly basic, does make limited amount of instrumentation in those days, including very sparse keyboard in a non-overpowering way, a militaristic drum beat the fits directly into the song, a funeral keyboard, an acoustic guitar used in a depressive manner, some killer and evil leads in certain spots, and well as an ending that is muffled, eerie sounding and (from what I understand) spoken entirely in Swedish. This means don’t accept them ever releasing those lyrics – even if they did, do 90% of use think we could understand it?
An overall view of Dark Endless is a positive one for me. This record has a groundbreaking aura of a naïve new band with a fascination with both death metal, black metal and the occult. If you’ve only heard the faster material (Panzer Division Marduk, Heaven Shall Burn When We are Gathererd), you absolutely owe it to yourself to give this a proper listen.
Marduk is one of the most easy-to-overlook bands in the realm of black metal, simply because, upon a cursory inspection, they seem to play little more than blast beat-happy black metal throughout their whole discography. The band’s career is however much more varied than such a premature assumption would have most people believe, stretching from a very primitive, death metal-oriented beginning towards a relatively cyclic alternation between the faster, more brutal albums and some considerably slower-paced releases. Positioned at the very beginning of this evolution is Dark Endless, a unique hybrid of death metal and black metal released at about the same time as several of the more influential Norwegian Second Wave of black metal albums.
Dark Endless begins with an inconspicuous one-minute intro track, The Eye of Funeral, which consists of little more than a few keys giving off a rather cold, ghostly atmosphere in preparation for the much more straightforward songs to follow. As mentioned before, this album has little to do with the Marduk of today. Instead, the music here is a type of darker death metal sealed inside a black metal aesthetic. The production has little to do with the band’s subsequent albums, being considerably cleaner, and the song structures themselves are heavily rooted in the Swedish death metal style of the early 1990’s. In this sense the album may be compared with Darkthrone’s Soulside Journey, with both albums being death metal beginnings in the careers of two well-known black metal bands.
The death metal present herein surprises the listener by its nature: the Marduk sound is definitely there, admittedly in a more primitive form, and some songs border on the more doom-oriented side of death metal, with slow passages being prevalent in several spots throughout the whole album. The Sun Turns Black as Night, Within the Abyss and especially Holy Inquisition are excellent examples of this well-hidden part of Marduk’s career, where they actually played slow death metal. One of these songs, Holy Inquisition, is also the last track off the album and its definite highlight. Starting with an incredibly epic slow riff, the song then proceeds to slowly distinguish itself as a first rate death metal track, highlighting everything that’s great about this album. It even has an awesome solo near the end, right before the song (and the album’s) closing passage, a kind of demonic whispering done relatively well.
Interestingly enough, while the album’s sound is mostly death metal, at least from an instrumental point of view, the rest of it is unmistakably rooted in the then-nascent (Second Wave) black metal movement. The vocals have very little to do with the usual stuff done in death metal, being a much darker type of shriek done by Andreas Axelsson. He’s the vocalist responsible for all the pre-black metal Marduk work, consisting of the Fuck Me Jesus and Here’s No Peace EPs as well as this album (the EPs have no exclusive songs bar the Bathory covers). The atmosphere created by this album is also readily distinct from the classic Swedish death metal sound, being much darker, somewhat like Hypocrisy’s Osculum Obscenum only more so. From a lyrical standpoint Dark Endless is undoubtedly a black metal album, dealing exclusively with darkness, death, chaos, the night, blackness and a general fascination with the supernatural.
Dark Endless is a very good record, on par with some of the best extreme metal coming out of Scandinavia during the period. It’s also considerably different from the later Marduk releases, so liking or hating the band’s newer stuff doesn’t necessarily imply either enjoyment or hatred of Dark Endless. On a small additional note, everyone interested in acquiring this may be interested in the re-release version which contains some (very raw) live material but whose artwork is vastly inferior to the original, having little more than the band logo, the title and a sad-looking statue.
"Dark Endless" is the first full-length from Swedish Black Metal band Marduk. This is the most unique album in their entire catalog, and it is also one of their best. I first discovered Marduk through "Opus Nocturne", several years ago. While it was a decent effort, the weak production job made it difficult to enjoy. It was hard to believe that the same guy that produced "The Somberlain", Dan Swanö, was responsible for this. At any rate, after this album, I moved forward, instead of backward. Mistake number one. I liked some elements of the "Nightwing" album, but I disliked the vocalist and the overall production. Anything that the band recorded after that seemed to be nothing but pointless blasting nonsense with no feeling and it completely failed at doing the one thing Black Metal is supposed to do: create a dark atmosphere. So, after being disappointed with yet another sub-par release, in 2001, I gave up on this band and wrote them off. Mistake number two.
Heeding the advice of my girlfriend, I finally gave in and checked out the older Marduk albums. "Those of the Unlight" was vastly superior to anything that came after, yet "Dark Endless" soon emerged as my favorite. The first thing that I noticed about this album was that the production is very strong and is much more reminiscent of Swedish Death Metal bands from that era, such as Edge of Sanity. However, this is Black Metal, similar to old Samael and Treblinka/Tiamat. This was released around the same time that the Norwegians were redefining the sound, so it was before everything had to sound like that to be recognized as Black Metal.
There is a lot of variation in tempo, throughout this album. There are fast parts, blastbeats and plenty of tremolo riffs, but it's done with purpose rather than for the sake of being fast. There are a lot of slow riffs that help to create an atmosphere of doom. Minimal keyboard use is present here, to add to this. Every note seems to be played for a reason and they do well to create a dark feeling. The vocals of Andreas Axelsson suit this music perfectly and are typical for Black Metal, being high and raspy. And, unlike most Marduk albums I've heard, there are many memorable riffs and songs. The melodies stick with you even once the CD is over, making you want to listen again. Since the album is relatively short, it is easy to listen to it several times in a row.
Like many bands, Marduk definitely hit their peak early on and this is a prime example of what they were capable of, before wasting time churning out pointless garbage in an effort to impress everyone with how fast and brutal they can be. Standout tracks include "Still Fucking Dead", "The Funeral Seemed To Be Endless", "Dark Endless", and "Holy Inquisition". However, the album is oozing with memorable riffs and melodies, so it's difficult to choose. If you like the old Swedish sound, but you prefer something darker and more evil, seek this out.
I started to like Marduk for “Panzer Division Marduk” and, going on, I decided to listen to all the chapters by these good musicians. I liked “Heaven Shall Burn….” very much and I was terribly curious about their debut, so I listened to it and I quite like it. It’s not awesome at all, like other debuts by other famous black metal bands (Immortal anyone?), but it’s a piece of quite enjoyable early black metal.
The Bathory and early blackened thrash/death metal influences are well stuck in the sound, that is quite far from being the total blast beats one on the following albums. So, like in “The Sun Turns Black As Night” we can find long, doom parts taking dominion on the sound with a good alternance of fast up tempo. The blast beats are rare and quite raw in technique and speed…they are like faster up tempo. The guitars work is quite good and violent, so for this check “Within The Abyss” that features perfectly what I said earlier about the mix of down tempos and fast restarts.
The mid paced parts are very Hellhammer/Celtic Frost influenced and they are preponderant in this album. “The Funeral Seemed To Be Endless” contains some of the elements that will contribute in creating the future Marduk style, with blast beats and a blacker riffage. The vocals here are more “pure black metal” style with an angrier tonality, followed by some obscure growls. Anyway, the song structure is always quite simple with few, main riffs.
The production is quite essential and reminds me the one of those occult, early black bands like Samael in “Worship Him” album. Anyway it is quite good and all the instruments can be heard quite well. “Departure From The Mortals” is the best one here in my humble opinion and combines great, malignant fast riffs with a good refrain and doom, scary parts. The main riff on “The Black…” is pure death/thrash with a black touch. It’s very good, along with some Hellhammerish up tempo.
The slow march with following speed parts of “Holy Inquisition” ends this very first Marduk full length, an almost forgotten full length that, without being great, already shows some potentialities they would express better in the following works. For old school black metal lovers.
This being Marduks first album, it is strange to see how much the band has changed since the beginning. Those who are familiar with the albums of the Legion-era of Marduk and the Mortuus-era of Marduk will find something completely different on the first three fill lengths of this band. This album really has no connection to any of the newer Marduk.
While albums like Panzer Division Marduk employed brutality and nonstop blastbeats (something I'm not a fan of, especially in black metal), earlier efforts like this put some thought into their riffing and create a far more evil and dark sound, rather than a violent assault of [laughable] noise. Dark Endless has production that fits the music well, it could be described as much rounder than most of the other albums. The drumming tends to stay more basic and the drums are also mixed far more tastefully.
Riffing is very varied on this cd. It tends to add a doomy touch with riffs that have slower rhythmical values, and long vibratoed and sustained notes. There are still lots of standard tremelo riffs, yet there is enough variation as to not induce boredom. Much like the drumming the guitar parts create a lot more musical interest when not blasting at the fasted speed possible through every song. It should also be noted that the guitars have little orthodox black metal riffing, which Marduk would first employ during Those of the Unlight.
The musics tendancy to not be straightforward black metal is also seen by the incorperation of a lot bass lines that give a bit of a almost grooving death metal feel. There are also times in the music where keyboards are applied, and very tastefully, adding a doomy touch to the music during the few times that they are used.
Vocals are also not as annoying as they are on the more popular albums. A lot more dense and muffled sound creates a better dark atmosphere that the music can interact with. Lyrics are also a bit more stimulating and deep than the usual brand of Satanism mixed with Was lyrics that Marduk now use to death these days. Really, there is nothing besides the name of the band that tell the listener that this is the same band that released World Funeral, la Grande Danse Macabre etc...
Basically, if you can't stand new Marduk (i.e. post 1996), give this a chance. If you like new Marduk, you will be dissappointed by this album. Personally I think that the blend of death and black metal, along with some interesting doomy elements are far more interesting, but thats for everyone to decide themselves. Also, artwork is very intriguing, I've never been able to make the connection between the music and what the artwork should represent.
Dark Endless is a brief collection of blackened death metal songs clocking at 30 minutes of violent blasting aggression, speed and darkness but without a lot of substance in it. In fact, it’s sub par compared to other Swedish DM albums.
The music is pretty simple in its riffs and drumming, and the vocals are the standard black metal shriek. The guitar work consists of basic black and death metal riffs that are played in every speed you can think of. The fast riffage is more prevalent, but there are some midpaced moments and it seems they know that some slower, doomy riffs can contribute a lot in the development of a dark atmosphere. That can be heard in almost every song but for example, listen to 1:46 at “The Funeral Seemed to be Endless”. If that riff and the drumming in that section were a bit slower, it’d sound like a funeral march. There are also a lot of catchy riffs that are pretty efficient in their simplicity. There’s no need to mention them, as they are scattered all around the album. You might even overlook the fact that some of them are a bit repetitive and recycled. The songs have a lot of different riffs and that helps the variation.
The drumming is pretty standard, with its fair share of blastbeats with some simple fills. The drummer works very well in the slower sections with a good sense of what’s good for that moment. There are a few double-bass strings in the two last songs.
It should be listened without compromise. The major ear-catchers are “Still Fucking Dead”, “The Funeral Seemed to be Endless” (coolest song title ever) and “Within the Abyss”. Get it if you are curious to know pre- PDM Marduk, if you like simplistic Swedish DM or if you want to listen to some dark catchy music. Be aware it’s not really that special, but it’s surely enjoyable.
Okay, I'm going to be bold and give this a strong 77, because I actually do enjoy this album. Sure, it's miles away from what Marduk became later, but the actual material on here is pretty good, and it doesn't sound like a rip-off of other bands.
What you get here is blackend death metal, but the death metal element is really only in here because of the down-tuned guitars which DO sound a lot like other Swedish death metal bands. Marduk plays faster than Entombed or Dismember on here, and they've got a bit more variety in what they do. Overall, the album has a feel that is similar to Possessed (one of my faves), though musically it's very different.
"Within the Abyss" has one of the best opening riffs ever--very dark and evil sounding. "Dark Endless" starts off with a strange bass intro, sounding more atmospheric and funeral-like than black metal, before the band goes into a more typical midpaced number. "Holy Inquisition" has some more melodic passages, but they don't sound like the sugar coated Gothenburg stuff. Otherwise, you'll get quite a few fast songs on here, proving that Marduk was always into writing speedy songs (though they aren't really that fast compared to later albums).
There's more experimentation going on here than other albums, because a few slightly melodic passages show up here and there, as well as some keyboards. These are used quite sparingly, leaving an angry piece of Swedish black metal. Those of the Unlight is their best album, and you can find some of the tracks off of Dark Endless on the infamous Fuck Me Jesus CD (in an even rawer and more evil form), but this might be worth picking up if you're a big Marduk fan and you don't mind death metal.