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The 90s were the 'cool' time for bands that grew large enough to release an EP with an original track or two and then a few covers of the bands that inspired them. This was usually done with a sincere intention to pay tribute to the influences, but let's be honest: a lot of younger listeners in that period had their first exposure to the classics through the covers that their favorite black or death metal bands performed, and such offerings helped contribute to the mold of the 'cool' bands to listen to. I mean, on just how many of these releases did we find covers of Bathory, Possessed, Venom, Sodom, Kreator, Metallica, Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, Slayer, and Motorhead? The answer is most of, if not all of them.
Enter Marduk, who had been creating a stir by the middle of this decade for their crude but intense brand of traditional Swedish black metal, creating albums such as Those of the Unlight and Opus Nocturne which have still held up rather well in the ranks considering how many have become disenchanted with the band's purposed monotony. Like fellow Swedish bands Bewitched (Encyclopedia of Evil) and Necrophobic (Spawned by Evil), they decided to cast their dice into the cover bowl, imprinting their virile and raw edge to a series of tracks that were, well, already pretty nasty to begin with...
To begin with, Marduk offers one of their own tracks, or rather a remix of "Glorification of the Black God" from their Heaven Shall Burn...When We Are Gathered album, which had come out just a few months earlier. The track contains samples of Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain", and in fact the riffing itself is fashioned about the classical piece in tribute, so it's kind of a nice inclusion to go with the more contemporary influences. This is a fairly savage piece, epic and evil even where it's not orchestral, although the cheesiness of the narrative bit is arguable. After this a wall of feedback heralds the cover of Destruction's "Total Desaster", which is quite more energetic than the original due to this Swedish band's ability to play on 'fast' and 'faster' speeds. I like the louder bass here, and Erik Hagstedt does his best to salivate the track in more festooned frontman debauchery than Schmier had originally used. The solo also shreds in this.
As influential as they were, covers of Canada's Piledriver were not so common as the rest of the pack, but here Marduk earn some scene points by including not just ONE of their songs, but TWO. And they are both quite well conceived, with the bombastic warmongering given to the drums of "Sex With Satan" and then the ripping arrangement of "Sodomize the Dead" which just might be the crowning piece on this EP. The band closes the CD with Bathory's "The Return of Darkness & Evil", a rather common cover and though Marduk have their way with it, it sounds the most natural and closest to the original, thus rendering it the least interesting of the chosen tracks. On the limited vinyl of Glorification the band also covered Venom's "Hellchild", so if you happen upon a copy you may want to grab that version for the increase in value and playtime.
This is a fairly fun release, and not a wretched way to kill 18 minutes of your life. The covers are all lovingly performed, and as typical for this Swedish butcher crew, with a sincere, professional effort. I won't give it a high grade since it's not original material, except for the opening track which is only a slight variance on the album version. But it does sound quite amazing due to the searing production values. So if you love Marduk, or cover song albums in general from black metal bands, you probably wouldn't kick this out of bed for crackers.
What is this? It's strange, yet completely awesome. This short, five track EP is Marduk playing thrash songs. And I have to say it's one of the most thrilling little albums I've heard. Released after the (decade long) misstep of hiring Fredrik Andersson, one of the most boring, talentless, horrible drummers to ever be born, Glorification stands out as one of the few moments where he doesn’t demonstrate his love of blasts excessively. Even on his first performance, Opus Nocturne, where the band still had quite a lot of mid paced stuff, and the band didn't really get into their non-stop attack phase until the album preceding this EP, he was already playing far too many generic blast beats. Those albums still kicked as because of everything apart from that monkey, but it was irritating. So it's nice to hear that he is physically capable of not blasting 100% of the time. Yeah, he did have to play other musicians music to do so, but that's just technicalities.
Glorification, is it itself, capable of being quite an uninteresting listen, it's one remixed song from just two months prior, and four covers. Two of which from the same band. The remix is a solid track, but not terribly different from the full-length version. Still bursting out of the edges with too much blast, a few parts sound mildly different, but there's still the same tempos, and same vocal delivery. The other black metal song, a Bathory cover, loses the charm of the original, because of the band going a little too far over the top on the heaviness. And again, the opportunity of mid paced blasting is seized upon with glee by Andersson.
Where this album shines is in the thrash songs. That's right, not the black metal, but the thrash. Now, I haven't heard ANY of these thrash songs, I've heard "Eternal Devastation" by Destruction, which was good, because the guitar work was great, but the vocals were annoying, and the production made the guitars sound awkward and irritating, so I just never bothered getting into it. Basing my idea of how "Total Desaster" would sound on those songs, Marduk take the awesome riffs, blacken the hell out of them and make them more awesome, and the replace the bad vocalist with Legion, who vomits even more copious amounts of awesome into the song. The solo is stunning, the riffs are amazing, and the energy on offer is among the best you'll hear. Easily the standout of the release.
The other two thrashers, both from Piledriver, a band I've never heard, are not quite as good, and to be honest, don't sound like the type of thrash I would usually listen to. But are still saved by the "Marduk-ing" they receive. Which involves making everything far heavier, overall clean sounding, with enough scratchy roughness to sound to still maintain the soul. The first, Sex with Satan, is quite mid paced and sleazy sounding, and the band plays it well, Although, it just doesn't sound right coming from the band, Legions vocals are too harsh for the song, although the scratchy production makes them more bearable, but it just doesn't quite sound exciting enough compared to the rest of the album.. While the second is a faster, more direct thrasher, brimming with opportunity for the band to tear you an new asshole. Complete with brilliant lyrics. Total headbanger this one.
Sure, this album is at its core a very quickly thrown together little cover EP, despite the very nice production. But this is still very good. The band makes the thrash songs their own and just adds a lot of character to them. The black metal side is admittedly less impressive, with one of the songs being just a minor remix, and the other not as good as the original, despite a possible improvement in the vocal department. As far as cover EPs go, this is near the top.