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What can I say? I guess I’ll start from the beginning. Back in the first semester of 1999 I was really fed up with the dimmu-borgir/cradle of filth trend everyone was into (including me). I was sick and tired that these bands even received radio airplay, they used waaaaay to much keyboards to the point when it was no longer an atmosphere creating instrument, but the MAIN instrument, they had clean vocals, not to mention, the “un-evil / friendly” sounding production, the unaggressive riffs and the fart sounding drums. The worse part was that they were in EVERYONE’S mouth and in EVERYONE’S collection, thus, they were no longer special for me due to the fact that everyone knew them, kind of Iron Maiden or AC/DC type of thing.
I proceeded to get rid of my albums by the aforementioned bands, some I threw away in the trash, others I traded to some idiot for some classic death or thrash metal and others I sold for absurdly cheap prices at local act’s shows as a means of desperation to get rid of them. I needed something faster, more vicious, wild, rabid, cynic; shameless… in short, I needed REAL black metal. I was still in high school and some people from my country’s “scene” (in which I was a “new guy” at the time) who were much older than me mentioned this band called Marduk to me, they said they were from Sweden, totally satanic, insane, faster than lightning and so forth. I’ve always been against downloading music or having recorded tapes of different albums or having CD-Rs, so, the new kid who pretty much knew nothing of where to find black metal CDs in a third world country like my own, started seeking Marduk releases everywhere he could. The months went by with no success until one day, in early November of the same year a local music store realized metal sold a lot of records and that it was close to Christmas season, so, they brought some metal CDs in stock.
I started seeking in the shelves and to my great surprise; they had HEAVEN SHALL BURN… WHEN WE ARE GATHERED. I didn’t know if this particular album was good or bad, I was totally clueless, yet, I used the money I was saving for some Black Sabbath album and I bought the item. When I got home, I told my family I was not in for anyone in case the door bell rang or if someone called me on the phone, I turned my cell phone off, opened my CD player, inserted the disk and pushed play.
My curiosity had been rewarded. The riffs, the drumming, the bass (which was very much audible to my surprise) and… THE VOICE…!!! It sounded like a tornado of sonic aggression coming in every direction. Simple, straight to the point, honest, no run-arounds. Pure fucking insanity. Chaos, mayhem, transgression… what not?
The riffs where like razors cutting flesh and soul, the drums were machine guns raping ones spirit and mental sanity, the bass was a constant rumble, an earthquake, and the voice was the closest thing I had heard to a real demon or possessed individual until that moment. The production was cold and thin, perfectly fits the mood. It all sounded like a blur if you didn’t pay attention to it. I loved it.
“I am the abomination, Satan’s earthly breed..” says “Beyond the Grace of God”, indeed that’s what it sounded like. The introduction to “Glorification of the Black God” is the start of Mussorgsky's “A Night at the Bare Mountain” and it blew me away. “A new age will come. A new king will be crowned. A new age will arise. In your blood you shall be drowned. The new age of Satan. The new age of Hell. This is what I’ve seen and darkness it shall be…” gave me goosebumps and made me dream. “The black tormentor of Satan” was sad, melancholic, fierce. The epic slow paced track on Vlad Dracula was mesmerizing and yet, the best was yet to come. “…feel the darkness growing when we draw near, my name is Legion, for we are many here…”, those lines actually made me cry out of excitement, joy and awe. I had found black metal, real uncompromising black metal. No excuses. No trends. No room for the week.
It was too good to be true. If one is able to get pass the wall of noise, created by the band with most care, you’ll be trapped in a maze of blasphemy, torment, ecstasy, melancholy, aggression, warfare and will be on the brink of sensorial bliss. Get this album, especially if you are very young and impressionable like myself when I was 16. You’ll never forget it. I guarantee it. Mighty hails and thanks for reading. Enjoy the darkness.