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Marduk took a big step with their 1996 release “Heaven shall Burn, When we are Gathered”. Firstly noticeable, this is where Marduk took their music to hyper speed. The slow parts which were partly featured on their previous releases are gone, and the overall tempo has been heightened a lot. Secondly, their singer Joakim leaved before this recording. Recognizable from “Ophthalamia”, Legion fit the role as Marduk’s new vocalist very well. While he may do very little to actually vary the pitch of his screams, he’s a fine vocalist.
When Morgan (the guitarist) once said that the purpose of Marduk was to create the most violent and fast metal ever, he said a mouthful. The speed is most of the time relentless and one really starts to admire these characters ability to play their instruments. The riffs are fast and varying, while the drums are repetitive. The drums though are bashed at with such levels of speed that variation can be difficult to reach. The bass is buried beneath the rest of the instruments, but based on what can be heard from it, I’d say it sounds pretty stale.
The album starts out surprisingly good. “Beyond the Grace of God” introduces us to the whole new style Marduk has incorporated into its style. The drums are going very fast on this song, and so are the guitar tones. Now, the danger with this type of music is often to overuse the brutality (which many artists seem to do), but luckily there’s actually quite a lot of melody stuffed in the many different parts here. More than often, if a riff is repeating itself, Morgan has added some small variations and tones to it. There’s a part towards the end of the track which is entirely based on melody which I for one never thought I would hear from this band. This is a very nice touch, and it just works so well. The same story goes for the next track : “Infernal Eternal”. This masterpiece is the best track off the album, mainly for its melodic touches here and there. Yet another very good song is offered here, and it’s called “Glorification (of the black gods)”. They’ve based this one on some kind of classical piece which I can’t remember the name of. With their own small incorporations, they’ve made it a splendid track. After this one, it starts to drift. “Darkness it shall be” features the same speed and technicality as the ones previous to it, but they’ve taken away the formula of melody completely. It sounds very stale, and this goes on and on towards the end of the album. This album is only 35 minutes long, and yet it feels like it should’ve been shortened by half. Surprises lie also in the remaining half of the album, such as the bass lines in “The Black Tormentor of Satan”, but it all ceases to really impress. This is also where you notice the limitations of Legion as a vocalist.
Could’ve been a splendid album but doesn’t cut it all the way through. The major flaw lies in the fact that they cut the melody parts from half the tracks, and therefore it becomes repetitive towards the other half of the album. Still, this is one of Marduk’s best efforts with full-length albums and this is a good place to start if you haven’t heard anything from them yet.