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So much jolly fun! Pandas go tractor pulling - 5%

morbert, November 7th, 2008

Ohw yes, this is one of those albums I bought blindly because of the album cover and hearing so many good things about them from friends whose views I held dearly. Remember, those were the days before the internet and most news came mouth-to-mouth and from a few mags. I had only heard good things about Marduk and when I saw this album in my local record store, when it came out, and especially the pretty cool album cover, I bought it. It had that Tolkien ambience (yes, this was a few years before the LOTR movie hype and I really loved those books) so what could go wrong?

Everything! Goddamn, it was like listening to a defect vacuum cleaner at 78rpm on vinyl. Or better, a tractor gone mad with someone playing guitar over it. I thought it was a joke. I had been listening to Darkthrone and Mayhem for a few years and I ‘grew up’ with grindcore but this wasn’t music anymore. These weren’t songs. Well maybe they were, but that tractor kept puffing and clicking through everything no matter what the guitars or vocals did!

This sounded like a project I did somewhere in ’91 with a friend and a drumcomputer at max speed. And now proffessional bands did this on vinyl as well? Damn, I could have been famous had I sold it, I realised…. I should have worn war paint and played wattered down The-Return-era Bathory riffs instead of crustcore riffs over it.

The only big difference between this album and my project was that this band, Marduk, were actually serious about it. Which even made it a better joke of course since nothing is more amusing than someone doing something embarassing without admitting or even understanding it. That look on someone’s face “what? What did I do?”. I have imagined Marduk looking like that forever since.
Amusing pandas as they are I also saw them live a few years later but that wasn’t nearly as funny since half the audience were pandas as well, and they all actually meant it. It became painful!

I know, by now the average reader must think “there’s another one who just doesn’t like black metal“. But you’re actually wrong. I grew up with Bathory, Frost and Venom, I really got into Darkthrone when they released “Blaze..” and Emperor is one of my favorite bands for example. So none of those disliking-the-entire-genre stigmas on me, thank you very much.

I played this album once every year and although it never grew on me in terms of ‘really’ liking it as being serious music I began to like it more and more in a humorous way. Playing it to friends when I wanted them to hear the downside of black metal. This album is an implosion of black metal. When ‘evil’ turns into ‘pathetic’ or even ‘ludicrous’. Satan does not listen to black metal you know, he encourages corporate rock, trance and R’nB actually, is Britney Spears’ biggest fan…. and Disney of course. Music which makes the higher amount of money and anything which lures the masses. Logical if you think about it.

Compared to Emperor, who were able to cleverly compose and put in blast beats, melodic riffs and catchy vocal lines to emphasise the intrinsic atmosphere of the songs on “In the Nightside Eclipse”, Marduk sounded like teens making a racket for the sake of annoying their parents and neighbours. Pointless. Hell, even Darkthrone had tried this formula but did it so much better two years earlier on “Transilvanian Hunger”. Grindcore had crushed some boundaries 10 years before this and the majority of the scene had been busy giving extreme and fast music either new depths or other genres a refreshing parallel evolution in terms of speed. Not Marduk. Their highest speed doesn’t even come close to what Terrorizer were doing in ’89 and their riffs were a mere shadow of Emperor, Darkthrone and Bathory. This was third rate at best.

Now there honestly are a few moments on the album worth mentioning. The best riffs are during “Glorification of the Black God” but it’s rather embarrassing that the majority of them is based on the 1886 Mussorgsky composition "A Night on a Bare Mountain". At least the band were honest enough to put a part of that composition at the beginning of their own tune. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out the band new that classic through Disney’s Fantasia instead of a decent education. “The Black Tormentor of Satan” actually has a few good riffs and ‘melodies’ on the first half on the song (that's were the five points are for).

When the band finally does not play a song dominated by tractor (“Dracul Va Domni Din Nou In Transilvania”) they prove they’re just as monotonous when playing slow. “Darkness It Shall Be” gets the award for most annoying song. I always think the band copy-pasted the same verse 20 times. Man, does this ever end? So utterly dull. The first verse is actually catchy but after hearing them repeat it perpetually…

Unlike the Young Ones, Chef, Blackadder or Monty Python I haven not bought the rest of Marduk’s albums to complete my comedy collection. One is enough in this case.