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The concept album is always a treacherous undertaking for any band; usually it’s a road paved with folly (especially when bands set out to cover something with a double CD… the horror!). Here however, Marduk have gone for only a partial concept album and it works rather well (much like when all black metal albums were divided into sides ‘Blood’ and ‘Lucifer’). The conceptual tracks here are limited to one side of the album (much like Helstar’s masterpiece Nosferatu). In truth Marduk kept things very simple here and as such the album is a rewarding listen both conceptually and musically; that medieval darkness is very much intact and it follows down the same paths trodden by Heaven Shall Burn….
Of course, by the late 1990s the metal world was no stranger to Vlad Țepeș and his deeds had already been covered by a handful of bands (Manilla Road’s ‘(Vlad) the Impaler’, Countess’s ‘Son of the Dragon’ and a certain French black metal band all spring to mind). It’s certainly no mystery as to why the prince of Wallachia was such an intriguing figure; demonised in the West and canonised in the East (he’s considered to be the Romanian Robin Hood, apparently), Țepeș’s legend spread throughout the world in his own lifetime. He was a man so cruel that his violence even outraged the Catholic Church (well, he did have a penchant for mutilating papal envoys – one suspects, however, that they’d be less offended if the papal envoy was a six year- old boy). The fact that he was considered a monster in his own lifetime is probably why he’s been a perennial figure in metal and that’s not even to mention his links to Stoker’s Dracula.
Certainly, part of Nightwing’s success stems from its lyrical details on one of history’s most controversial characters. Musically it doesn’t differ much from its predecessor but it serves the album well due to its austerity and mercilessness (it could be argued that no two successive Marduk albums are radically different). Still, I can’t help but fall for it; it’s as straightforward as a Marduk record should be, but it’s not lacking in nifty riffs or melodic earworms. If anything the material here could have come from the same writing session as the previous album but that’s really not much of a criticism. Subtle variations and slight mood changes tend to be more welcome than a big jolt when it comes to black metal.
Even in terms of individual song variation this album follows the same pattern as its predecessor; mostly blasty black metal with one slower, thunderous epic. The good thing is that the band continue their winning streak (which Panzer Division Marduk would break. There are some slight chinks in their armour, however, ‘Slay the Nazarene’ shows how Marduk would sometimes fall into writing ho-hum material that, while not bad, feels rather perfunctory. Similarly, the re-recording of ‘Deme Quaden Thyrane’ falls on its face in comparison to the original. Legion was never a particularly dynamic vocalist but he was usually entertaining. On this re-recording he completely forsakes the changes in mood and tone that Joakim Af Gravf had on the original. Take the intro, for example; the 1994 version has an ominous spoken intro that builds into something more ferocious – like the eerie calm before battle – whereas Legion just barks his way through it. On the same note, the instrumentation shows that Marduk had also become a less dynamic band in the years since Opus Nocturne (blame the producer, maybe?). Honestly, I’m of the opinion that all re-recordings are more-or-less pointless and this serves as an early example (long before the re-recording trend fully took off). All in all, though, you’re in for a bloody (geddit?) good time here.
Consistency is something I value highly and with Marduk you can take any album between 1992 and 1998 and the chances are that if you liked one you’ll like the other. They’ve certainly made some good albums with their current vocalist, but it’s really these initial five albums that I keep on coming back to. On a side note, the title track’s main riff is based on the score of a mid-1990s vampire flick called Subspecies. I checked it out as usually metal bands tend to reference good horror films. Unfortunately, Subspecies was fucking shite.
No doubt, Marduk is one of the most popular names in black metal. In my opinion, their phenomenal reputation is mainly based on their early works. "Panzer Division Marduk" marked the point of culmination, but its predecessor also shined with extremely hostile and fantastically constructed songs. "Nightwing" was divided in two chapters. Both "Dictionnaire Infernal" and "The Warlord of Wallachia" developed their own aura. The album´s first part was focused on high velocity and consisted almost exclusively of highlights.
After the superfluous intro, Marduk got down to the nitty-gritty. High velocity eruptions like "Of Hell´s Fire" or "Slay the Nazarene" did not only impress with their sheer relentlessness. The unforgettable ending of "Of Hell´s Fire" as well as the massiveness of "Slay the Nazarene", the dynamic breaks and the expressive performance of lead vocalist Legion were also very important components of the songs. But "Bloodtide XXX" was not to be outdone. It possessed an extremely sustainable and mercilessly growing chorus. Under the bottom line, "Dictionnaire Infernal" offered an almost unsurpassable triple pack.
The title track linked the two parts of the album. It put the focus on grandeur and velocity at the same time. I have read that the main riffs are taken from a soundtrack. Be that as it may, the chorus revealed a great melody line and the nightly aura became omnipresent. In view of the nearly pompous harmonies, an orchestral version of the song could perhaps be an interesting experience. But this does not mean that the here presented implementation failed to impress. Instead, it convinced with regard to its high degree of power and pressure. The fierce production offered no opportunity for whiners to practice their hobby, because it was more or less flawless.
Almost as expected, the second half of the full-length could not fully compete with the first tracks. Nonetheless, the unholy riff of "Dreams of Blood and Iron" crept out of the speakers in a grim manner and laid the foundation stone for another killer track. Its aura led the listener straight to the dark medieval times of the 15th century and the slow-moving rhythm gave Legion room to develop the whole mercilessness of his voice. With a length of more than six minutes, the song could be seen as a monument of slowly killing riffs which were combined with a lively and powerful rhythm section. In contrast, "Kaziklu Bay (The Lord Impaler") represented the only speedster of the album´s second part. It appeared as a welcome summary of the previous excesses of velocity. Despite these great songs, "The Warlord of Wallachia" suffered from the fact that "Deme Quaden Thyrane", actually a strong mid-tempo piece, had been already released on their third full-length. The militaristic outro brought the vicious opus to an end.
"Nightwing" did not offer something completely new, but its songs kept firing full blast and they did not lack of variety. Nobody could blame Marduk for delivering just more of the same. Therefore, 95% for the first half and 75% for "The Warlord of Wallachia" result in 85% for the entire album which is still absolutely recommendable.
Released in April 1998, Nightwing was the last album from Marduk that I was able to enjoy, until recent years. Like its predecessor, it was recorded in Tägtgren's Abyss Studio. This L.P. features a lot of the flaws that would be more greatly emphasized the following year, while still possessing enough of the band's original qualities to make it worth listening to. It also seems to be the final album to have more of a campy atmosphere, rather than the darker themes that would be explored later on.
The music is not the best that they had ever written, yet the production actually makes it seem worse than it is. The slick and modern Abyss sound is one of the worst things to happen to black metal in the mid-to-late '90s. Bands like Marduk, Dark Funeral and Immortal flocked to this rotten studio and got a sterile production job for their efforts. While the truly worthwhile compositions managed to rise above this, in some regard, even the best songs were partially crippled by the terrible sound. It would appear that Marduk had always suffered from lousy producers and sub-par mixing. Evil's songwriting deserved much better, certainly. On Nightwing, the pummeling drums take over and the guitar melodies are much harder to distinguish. It is almost as if Tägtgren tried to smother the very best riffs, rendering the finished product almost lifeless.
Whether mostly due to the production or just lazy songwriting, Marduk's fifth full-length suffers from a real lack of memorable riffs and songs, in general. The first few songs, "Bloodtide", "Of Hell's Fire" and "Slay the Nazarene" seem to run together, with a lot of the pointless blast beats and meaningless guitar riffs that would define the band's middle period (though the first track offers more variety and more thoughtful arrangement, about halfway in). The most memorable song on the album is probably the title track, yet this is largely due to the fact that they ripped off the Subspecies theme and built the song around that. While it was very awesome to hear this being used by a black metal band, it still says a lot for the lack of creativity in that the best melody on the whole record was borrowed from something else. Furthermore, the subsequent riffs do nothing to build on the atmosphere created by this main theme. In fact, they almost seem to contradict the dark feeling that the song begins with. Songs like "Dreams of Blood and Iron", once again, demonstrate what a terrible vocalist Legion was, as he could never shut up long enough for the riffs to take full effect. This is a problem with a lot of bands; trying to fit in more lyrics than are necessary and drawing too much attention to the vocalist, rather than doing what is best for the song and the atmosphere that it is trying to convey.
Nightwing is a rather boring and uninspired album, especially when compared to Marduk's earlier output. It has its moments, with decent riffs and ideas scattered throughout the record, but can be considered only lackluster at best. It says a lot that the best song on the album is a re-recorded version of a track from Opus Nocturne and that the most memorable riff was taken from a low-budget horror film. While this isn't horrible, you are better off sticking with the first few albums.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Out of every release Marduk has puked forth, “Nightwing” is the album new fans are recommended to purchase; the record that’s been merited with more praise than anything else from its birthparents; and most importantly, the CD often labeled a milestone in black metal. For something so praised, I’m completely appeased by these little ankle-biters; pitiful contributions of an annoying order, I can only laugh at this effort. Well, some would argue Marduk attempts changing it up a bit, but the shoe just doesn’t fit, if you know what I’m saying. Idolizing terrible metal in musical makeup is still terrible metal no matter how you see things, which is why “Nightwing” has holes in its indecent gliders.
Still, Morgan Håkansson has attributed better riffs than previously thawed in his past efforts of Legion-era senselessness, yet these presented crafts are still dick-counting lame. He can tremolo pick really fast, which is pretty boring if you’ve experienced this kind of retardation before, yet Captain Morgan has definitely improved, but once you review his licks, it’s still tremolo picking good for inducing comas. Hey Marduk, what happened? Did you douche bags actually forget how to write black metal, or does that cool production with all those studio sparkles kill the concept of your sound? Even better, where is this album going? "Shotgun anus," a prodigy once suggested.
And the pooper is where it heads. Legion, as usual, acts as if he chugged some glass before recording with those cracking shrieks of his that walk amongst deafening annoyance from another planet. Seriously, twenty bucks to whoever can tape his mouth shut. Also, blasting is the only action seen on the percussion level, so yea, welcome to “Nightwing!” Needless to say, I’m left wondering how this got major props, you dig? I mean the list of issues flooding “Nightwing” is absolutely outstanding. Again and again I hear praises about those riffs throughout "Of Hell's Fire" and "Slay The Nazarene" like both songs rescued a group of drowning children, yet I don't understand why. These "classics" barely have any distinction from the record’s first cut of tunes (excluding the useless intro) because they do what Marduk always seems to do: retrace a submissive path, and constantly abuse it.
But don’t hurl a toaster into your bathtub yet, because believe it or not, they actually try something new! Yes, the same group relying on a one-dimensional texture for endless eons adds doom-laden color on “Nightwing,” bridging a set of offerings like “Dracole Wayda” without overusing brutalizing qualities; slower and mid-paced, these final selections aren’t what Legion-era Marduk previously promised. Not to mention atmosphere has made a surprising return after years of absence upon finding certain directions quite retarded! Fuck my old boots! A new frontier makes me ask one question: does it mean “Nightwing?” will fly with the night?
Sadly, no, and there’s good reasoning for that. Repetition and obvious traces of Marduk’s sanctuary-like design follows their easy ways likewise on a doom-influenced path, which unfortunately leads them astray; essentially, all slower tracks are nearly equal in physical appearance and internal structure. I still have a hard time disputing between tunes, because the idea is so feeble that riffs, percussion thoughts, and vocal textures will almost carry themselves over to other songs of its nature, and that’s really no different from blasting senselessly from my perspective. Though it’s an obscure ambience, the ideology of rehashing a particular formula slowly diseases everything once “Dreams of Blood and Iron” kicks off until “Nightwing” finally concludes, empty and clandestine just as it began. Sweet apples can sometimes go sour, and these shy psalms aren’t very tasty regardless of whom or what receives a nice set of dentures. This is not creative. This is not revolutionary. This is not good music!
After watching “Vanilla Sky,” my mind was in pieces, yet that situation cannot ever match the struggle of fathoming Marduk’s pseudo-legacy “Nightwing” has apparently constructed. Telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth, this album is a complete and utter failure throughout; even though it hides in various masks, its real face is repulsive beyond measure. You know what, why don't you give this one a few spins? After all, there are just two opinions you’ll quickly grasp within a few minutes: it’s Marduk's magnum opus, or some brainless atrocity that'll make you wonder how low standards are for "Nightwing" to be stamped a "masterpiece." I'm going with the latter option, personally.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
Marking the beginning of MARDUKs “Blood, War, Death-trilogy” (the others being "Panzer Division Marduk" and "La Grande Danse Macabre"), "Nightwing" is divided into two chapters, “Dictionnaire Infernal” and “The Warlord Of Wallachia”. Ten years after its initial release, Regain Records have decided to give "Nightwing" a much-needed re-release, with new fantastic artwork (the cover is designed by Lorenzo Mariani) and a bonus DVD containing a live performance from Rotterdam in 1998.
While the entire first chapter is standard MARDUK-fare, with Legion screaming blasphemies at the top of his lungs as the war-machine provides heavy firepower, it still contains some of the bands true classics. “Of Hells Fire” is a fan-favorite, with one of the most memorable riffs in their discography, while “Slay The Nazarene” might be the ultimate soundtrack to wreaking havoc on Christianity. The main-riff of the title-track is unforgettable in its evil might, and with the vampire-themed lyrics it sets the scene for the second chapter brilliantly. This is MARDUK in their musical prime, flawlessly threading the line between brutality and crushing darkness, thus cementing themselves as the unholy kings of Sweden's Black Metal scene.
Curiously enough, the second chapter takes a totally different approach, both lyrically and musically. “Dreams Of Blood And Iron” is a slow-paced masterpiece, raining blow after blow upon the listener, while the lyrics chronicles the story of the Romanian ruler and national hero Vlad the Impaler and his rise to power. However, the story is told more like a history-lesson about this notorious man, rather than as a list of atrocities he committed, making for extremely interesting material that can actually teach the listener a thing or two. Yes, this sounds a bit strange when talking about a MARDUK-album, but the execution is so perfect that you can't help but be impressed, and makes reading the lyrics absolutely essential for the full experience. The change of tempo also allows for some variety throughout the songs, which makes Nightwing their greatest accomplishment to date, and one of the best Black Metal albums of the late 90s.
The DVD, which was apparently shot while the band was touring in support of the album, is a low-quality stationary camcorder-recording, and only serves as a simple taste of how the MARDUK of this era worked in a live-setting. The inclusion of “Dreams Of Blood And Iron” is the highlight of the slightly shorter than 45 minute concert, but unfortunately the combination of a static camera and a rather lifeless band (with the exception of Legion) adds up to a boring visual experience. However, its inclusion doesn't hurt the album, and together with the polished new artwork it should be enough incentive to get both old and new fans to cash out for this absolutely essential re-issue.
(Online July 23, 2008)
Written for the Metal Observer
"Nightwing" is the first black metal album I ever heard, if I remember correctly, and after all these years in this kind of music I can say it's definitively one of the best albums in this genre and the best Marduk album without a doubt.
"Nightwing" has all what a good black metal album should have. Great songs, dark atmosphere, everything... First half of the album is in typical Marduk style. Very fast, with great riffs, excellent vocals and interesting melodies. Marduk is one of the few bands which can play this fast and never become boring. Although songs are in same rhythm they all sound different which is really hard to succeed. Other half of album has songs like Dreams Of Blood And Iron and Dracole Wayda which are slower and give this album a variety and keeps it interesting from beginning to end. The best example of their progression is the song "Deme Quaden Thyrane", a song from "Opus Nocturne" album, which has been re-arranged and recorded again for this album and sounds a thousand times better than first version.
I can't really tell which song is the best because they all sound great and it's hard to pick a favorite. I am just wandering why they never play songs as Bloodtide (XXX), Nightwing or Kaziklu Bey (The Lord Impaler) at concerts. I was at their concert few months ago and they only play Of Hells Fire from this album.
Nightwing stood a test of time. I am listening this album frequently for almost ten years and it always sounds interesting and exciting which is I think the best proof of its quality.
Nightwing is Marduk’s fifth and best album. It represents the band’s peak of creative perfection. Neither earlier nor later albums have the staying power nor the capacity to make each of their songs an instant classic as Nightwing does.
The album’s divided into two sections dealing with two very different concepts. First off comes the “Dictionnaire Infernal” section, which includes the first four songs (from Bloodtide all the way to the title track), deals with classic black metal elements such as general bloody violence, Hell, Satan and killing Jesus. The lyrics dealing with this part of the album are actually much more original and inspired than what one might think about after seeing the subject despite it being all too common in black metal.
The second half of the album deals with Vlad “Dracul” Tepes, also known as Vlad the Impaler or simply more commonly as Dracula (and as Kaziklu Bey to his Turkish victims, hence the name of the third song from this section). This part of the album is a continuation of the story started on the song “Dracul Va Domni Din Nou in Transilvania” off the Heaven Shall Burn… album. It deals with Vlad Dracul’s life, from his childhood in the first song all the way to his death in Nightwing’s closing track, Anno Domini 1476. This is probably one of the most original albums from a lyrical and conceptual standpoint and it’s truly unique and surprising, especially for a Swedish band, to be so interested in Romania’s national hero.
Musically this is the pure Marduk that most of us know and love. The first section is more fast-paced and aggressive than the section about Vlad Dracul and also contains a greater number of the live tracks the band plays. Brutal and aggressive blast beats accompanied by Morgan’s usual killer riffs make this a very dark and hateful album. These aspects, along with the excellent bass playing of B. War would still make this album rank as Marduk’s best but only by a slight margin above the rest. The factor which I believe is essential in making this album so unforgettable is the vocal work done by Legion. I firmly believe that he’s never sounded as good on other albums as he does here, and I’ve heard every album he did vocals on except for La Grande Danse Macabre, but from the songs I’ve heard off it it’s not as good as on Nightwing.
Nightwing is a one of a kind album. Now I can’t say if Marduk won’t be able to top this as they still make excellent music but for now it’s their best. The songwriting is as good as it can get, the lyrics are excellent and so is every single aspect of the music. It’s a black metal classic and the pinnacle of Marduk’s career to date. It’s a must-have, both for Marduk fans and for black metal fans in general.
Vlad Dracul III the impaler. That's right, the real transylvanian nightmare and the inspiration for Bram Stokers character and now a brilliant vampiric concept album. However rather than dress the story up in juvenille erotica and fantasy like some pretentious UK acts that shall go nameless, Marduk address the far more gruesome truths of his story. And do so with a degree of intelligence that you would have thought impossible for an act that only a year later released an album famed for its brutallity and narrow mindedness.
What Marduk have created is a record seamlessly blending, focused blasting hooky black metal and intelligent, dark and meditave atmospheres.
The album opens with an intro track that sounds like a dying symphony before launching into blasting fury with three of the best Marduk tracks recorded; Including Slay the Nazarene, a live favourite of the band and audiences alike, with its raging riffing and throat tearing chorus. These songs are only loosely connected with the main concept of the album however, which begins with the title track.
What follows is simply jaw dropping dark brooding black metal of the highest order. Reading through the lyrics is a haunting expierience in itself as Legion grates and growls his way through the historical horrors of the man's life.
We get tempo changes (Within the songs themselves!) and thundering drums galore as they thunder onwards through hookfests like Kaziklu Bey and the more atmospheric and mid-tempo songs such as Dracole Wayda. But anyone feeling concerned that this album sounds too mixed up with its straight up black metal and mid tempo material, as well as its half concept album style, need not be so. In fact this album is neither boring and is in-fact the most focused of all Marduks albums with Legion on vocals. The production which is always a point of great disscusion in black metal is solid and layered yet not over produced and digitally crisp such as on World Funeral. Organic if you like.
In conclusion: Every song is memorable, all the lyrics are meaningful and passionate. A text book form of focused song writting being both epic and brutal at the same time.
Marduk is one of the few outstanding black metal bands to date that aren't an Emperor clone (though I have my appreciation for almost all black metal). Without an orchestra, keyboards, or any of the like, this band accomplishes creating the dark atmosphere that one would expect from a black metal band. This album's quality is pretty damn good for black metal as well.
This album accomplishes using the standard black metal topics, such as killing Jesus, blasphemy, sacrifice, etc. and makes it feel fresh and refined. In my personal opinion the lyrics at times seem pretty poetic.
The overall sound of the music is dark, fast, aggressive, and evil, the way it should be. With only drums, a bass, and a guitar, the sound is darkened and ambient. The riffs and drumming are a rapid chain of beautiful explosions to the ears. Also, this is one of the few black metal bands that actually makes the bass audible, and I myself being a bass player find that pretty sweet.
My personal favorites from the album are Bloodtide (XXX) and Slay The Nazarene. Bloodtide (XXX) has a dark, aggressive feel to it that all black metal lovers can appreciate. Slay The Nazarene seriously builds up an anti-christian rage in me that makes me want to go out and kill a couple of Christians and beat the shit out of Jesus.
I recommend this album to anyone who enjoys black metal, no one should be without it.
"Nightwing" was the fourth album by Marduk that I got to know and besides "World Funeral" it is my favourite up to date. It was the first time that I found an album of a Black Metal band truely epic and hymnic without them using a keyboard or an orchestra. They are using just three instruments and with them they are creating an evil, dark atmosphere that graps you by the throat and holds you there until the end of the last track.
The first four tracks (actually tracks two to four, because track one is only an intro) are the generic "Satan... grwuff... evil... kill god... sacrifice virgin"-stuff one would expect from a Black Metal band, but (just if the last words sounded kind of negative) those songs are great. They are executed perfectly with great guitar-riffing, precise drumming, a bass that one can more feel than hear and Legions godlike vocals. (Kind of strange in this context, isn't it?)
But then the whole concept of the album changes when the hymnic riff of "Nightwing" comes out of the boxes and evolves into Legions great memorable scream "Nightwing, fly across the sky". From this point on there's no more "Satan... grwuff... (you know what I mean)"-stuff. The new main-character of Marduks unholy opera is Vlad the Impaler. Hold on, before you say "Aww, shit, only melo-black-pussies deal with this vampire-stuff", because this is not about vampires, this is about the Kaziklu Bey, the romanian national hero, not the guy created by Bram Stoker. The six tracks tell the story of Vlad and his war against the turks to his death in 1476. The musical style stays the same during this part of the album (except the last rack, "Anno Domini 1476", that sounds a bit like a march with distorted guitars), the lyrics change to (well written - something one can not always expect from swedish bands) tales of war and bloodshed during the 15th century. So even if there are two "parts" of this album, it sounds very homogene. And let me tell you: it sounds great.
So we have brilliant Black Metal compositions and nice, unusal lyrics on one album. We have a great band that conducts these songs perfectly and we have Legion on vocals (one thing I miss about Marduk nowadays). What can one want more? Nothing.
Standout tracks: Bloodtide (XXX), Nightwing, Slay The Nazarene, Deme Quaden Thyrane, Anno Domini 1476