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It took two albums until the brilliance of Marduk shined in full glory. In comparison with their later albums, the debut should have never seen the light of day. "Those of the Unlight" indicated their overpowering song-writing skills for the first time, although the initial difficulties had still not been completely overcome. "Opus Nocturne" made clear that this Swedish horde did not need to fear the growing competition on the black metal market. Quite the opposite, it became obvious that Marduk deserved a leading position.
Whatever you expect from a black metal album, "Opus Nocturne" possesses it in abundance. Machine gun drums, crude melodies, cascading guitar lines, sinister vocals, dynamic tempo changes, majestic moments, solid bass lines, pictorial lyrics and an "unholy" cover design that was created by Kris Verwimp - you will not miss anything. Marduk invite the audience on a wild ride through the chasms of the genre. For the first time, they were able to put the pieces of the puzzle together and the result was a picture that shows their vision of the satanic victory in an impressive manner. Every band member makes a very strong contribution. For example, lead vocalist Joakim Af Gravf masters every challenge. His hateful nagging is more diabolic than Satan himself, but Af Gravf also knows how to handle less terrifying vocal lines. The unconventional title track gives him the opportunity to prove his broad spectrum. He ennobles the majestic and surprisingly soft guitar lines with clean and almost reflective vocals. Not in terms of quality, but due to its unusual clemency, the title track stands out. It leaves its mark, regardless of the fact that the typical ingredients like harshness, velocity and aggression are missing. However, the shady album is dominated by merciless guitars that incessantly deliver fantastic riffs, lines and melodies. They form fascinating tracks.
"Autumnal Reaper" can be regarded as a usual black metal high speed track, but it is more. Its eerie break after two minutes stands in contrast with the furious guitar lines and the unleashed hunting fever of the Grim Reaper. Despite the raging velocity, the song also excels by an appropriate atmosphere. "Sulphur Souls" seems to run in the same vein. But it delivers more tempo changes and a strong feeling of morbidity. The song reaches its climax after four minutes. While pouring out cascades of fairly mellow melody lines, the guitars have to battle with the merciless rhythm section. However, it makes no sense to dissect the individual pieces in an almost scientific manner. One can find positive attributes for each and every track. This also applies when considering the fact that "Opus Nocturne" sounds somewhat naive, at least in comparison with Marduk´s latest releases. Both "Serpent Sermon" and "Frontschwein" show a more merciless side of the band. But this retrospective analysis does not reduce the importance of the here presented full-length. It just illustrates the differences between the old and the new configuration of Marduk and it is naturally your decision whether you prefer the spontaneous or the cold-hearted and calculating approach.
"Opus Nocturne" works as a whole. Its programmatic title fits perfectly, because the tracks generate a permanently present nightly atmosphere. The maturity of the Swedes becomes most visible during the monumental numbers with a length of more than seven minutes. "From Subterranean Thrones Profound" as well as "The Sun Has Failed" impress with violent furiousness, cleverly constructed breaks and a monolithic overall impression. I admit that the latter ends with a atmospheric wind, rain and thunder outro, but even this non-musical ending strengthens the aura of the infectious album. All of the aforementioned songs have become black metal classics. Not to mention the explosive highlight "Deme Quaden Thyrane".
There aren't many black metal albums that I enjoy, but this is one of them. I actually think that this was the first black metal album I ever got into, and it might be my favorite. This might be my favorite black metal cover as well. This album has several things going for it, varied lyrics, good riffs, very good dynamics, nice melodies, excellent atmosphere, and effective vocals.
The newer variation has an improved version of the cover, though both are excellent. I'm not much for the satanic trope, but the cover Satan has a rather different look. Instead of the traditional, pot-bellied goat-man, this has more of Dracula in giant bat-form meets the demon from Dio look. The rest of the scene's not as interesting, I'm not sure what the artistic value of nudity is. I'm not prudish, but it does seem odd that it needed scores of nude people. One of them is pledging allegiance to Satan with an upside cross, kind of cliche, but the two people behind her are intriguing. A pained man clutches a dead or dying women. It's rather poignant compared to the rest. This is one of only a few black metal albums that I would consider t-shirt worthy.
I'm used to thinking of black metal as Satan and occult-obsessed, but this is pleasantly varied. Honestly, about half of this has nothing to do with either. The themes are dark, but that's to be expected for extreme metal in general. I don't care much for the stuff about the wolves, but it's not terrible. I find the one about Dracula interesting, both as it relates to their depiction of Satan on the cover, and from a historical perspective. I'm a history buff, so it appeals to one of my primary interests. The guitar riffing is pretty good when they chose to go for that approach. The one on Materialized In Stone has a good groove, and would make Celtic Frost very proud. The melodies on this album do however predominate. They are very good, but if you don't enjoy guitar melodies or need heavy riffs to dominate, then this likely isn't for you. The one that resides on the first song is probably my favorite, but they're all very good. The vocals are quite good, raspy but emotive. His screams are often pained, rather like Maleficent after she awakens without her wings. The epics work very well here as well. The first track is a great example. There is a piano intro to kick things off, and then the first full song begins. After a couple of minutes, it slows down into a groovier, atmospheric stretch.
The atmosphere on this album is fantastic, one of the best I've ever heard. The way the melodies are formed, the moments where clean vocals are substituted in, and the dynamics give this a very dark, epic feel. A song like the title track is a perfect representation. It's slower than the surrounding songs, all in clean singing, and the melody is eeriness at her finest. In a sense, it relates to the couple I mentioned on the cover. I imagine myself as the man, holding on to my departed beloved, as Satan sprouts out of the ground with his army in tow. I feel helpless, powerless, and yet at peace all at once, a resignation that I cannot thwart that evil around me. That is that rain at the end, and the pain that the vocalist feels. I probably sound rather flowery, but that atmosphere is that evocative. As I said, I don't really listen to much of this style, but this album hits that atmosphere for me that the bigger fans go on about.
I'm not sure if the raw production aids in the atmosphere or not. It is raw, not Darkthrone raw, but rawer than Immortal's been in a long time. This album is pretty trebly, but that is how it is supposed to be in black metal. I love the guitar sound, but I hate the drum sound. It rattles next to constantly, and it just gets on my nerves. He doesn't suck, but he doesn't really seem special. His performance itself isn't aggravating. I seldom hear the bass on this album, and what I do hear is just not special.
This album is quite impressive to me. The atmosphere and music are thrilling. The songs are mostly excellent. As well as lyrically, the Wolves song is several steps below musically. It's a rather large turd in the middle of this otherwise-excellent album. That and the drum sound are the only things that really hold the score from being even higher. I would say this album is pretty much essential for fans of black metal, and I have to say any fan of other types of metal should try this as well.
In Decibel's recent article (July 2010) on Watain, they had a sidebar on their picks for the five best Swedish black metal albums of all time. They picked Marduk's Opus Nocturne in the number 2 spot, so I decided to check it out.
As you might expect, they start with an intro--nearly every black metal album does. This one is organ. OK, after you get past that, it's crazy-fast tremolo riffing madness. They do have slower parts here and there, including whole songs ("Materialized in Stone" and the title track). These serve only to mix it up, though.
Marduk is at their absolute best when they're going all-out. The most impressive feat, perhaps, is "From Subterranean Throne Profound", nearly 8 minutes of high-speed riffing, without letting up one bit, and also without getting dull for one second. They manage it by changing up the riffs often, but it all seems to fit. The other major highlight is album closer "The Sun Has Failed", which is much more varied, alternating between an impenetrable wall of sound and passages with a little breathing room, tauntingly letting you come up choking for just a moment before plunging your head back under water.
The music is great (no disappointments there) but the production is also worthy of praise. Despite having that lo-fi, early black metal aesthetic (still sought out by some) they still manage to do everything well. You can hear the bass throughout (it's often a focal point) and the drums can be absolutely monstrous (see the opening to "Deme Quaden Thyrane" for examples of both).
The Verdict: Decibel was right, this is great black metal. The only bad thing I can say is I didn't really need two minutes of storm sounds at the end.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Before Marduk went mad on the total blast beats period there was a time in which the pure sense of darkness and mystery lied inside their music. The gloomy sounds of the first two albums came together with a far better songwriting to create the masterpiece of that era and surely the best album ever recoded by this band, Opus Nocturne. This malignant album was like a bridge between the past and the future because in some points the speed of music was higher, but always keeping the right atmosphere of desecration of the first efforts.
Opus Nocturne is a quite obscure album also from the point of view of the famousness because many of the black metal fans started to love this band with Panzer Division Marduk that, even if was devastating, was in one sense only for the pure violence and speed, without that deserved and amazing atmosphere the band recreated on this Opus Nocturne. The organ introduction leads us into the darkness of this album and we continue with the screams of “Sulphur Souls” and its blast beats. The new drummer, Fredrik Andersson, was already great at these sections but we can also find sudden breaks. The guitars are fast when all the sound is on speed but they also play scary arpeggios and less impulsive parts during the mid-paced breaks.
The production is essential but extremely dark, so forget about the one from Heaven Shall Burn…and the following albums because here the atmosphere is ritualistic, freezing and demonic. A sort of strange reverb is utilized by the instruments in order to give a profundity to the sound and support the atmosphere. The long bass drums parts are heavily utilized and we can meet also long, sinister lead lines to fill the air with a weird and obscure aura. Also the vocals are far less “extreme” in speed and distortion, pointing on a sort of ritualistic tonality and pace. Everything sounds bestial but also controlled with dark, sinister touches. The tracks are quite long but never boring and the most impulsive sections are always broken by more creepy mid-paced solutions.
Surely, thanks to Andersson, the sound has acquired a lot in speed and dynamism. Everything sounds more powerful and nasty and the B.War bass was already heavy and loud like a chainsaw behind the other instruments. Thanks to the several stop and go parts, the restarts gain a lot of power and impact. The riffs are more on open chords to create a dark and evil wall, but the single chord pickings are also used for the atmosphere. The greatness is developed in tracks like “From Subterranean Throne Profound”, “Autumnal Reaper” and the mythical “Materialized in Stone”. They all have all these elements inside their length and even more. They are evocative, always we-written and dark.
The title track, surprisingly, is totally different from the rest of the album because the lead lines are far more present and they guide all the sound. The bass notes are epic, dark and the progression is like a march, a procession in the dark. A sense of sorrow and darkness has its climax here. The vocals are not extreme at all but they are here just with a sort of a simple speech to add darkness. The mid-paced introduction to “Deme Quaden Thyrane” is soon destroyed by fast blast beats but the real, last highlight is “The Sun Has Failed” where once again Marduk reaches the top in malevolence with always a special touch.
Most of the parts or the riffs here are almost always quite recognizable and the long songs always show different and perfectly balanced parts in order to give new air to the blast beats though mid-paced sections and vice versa. The most important characteristic here is, by the way, the sense of evilness and malignance Marduk was able to create even if the music was not always on speed. This is a mandatory album for any black metal addicted and the most memorable piece by this once great band.
AAAAARRGHH!! Before Marduk turned into a repetitive neverendingly blasting black metal crap, they were an excellent and extreme black metal band! At this golden age of creativeness, they were at the very top on "Opus nocturne" that is a full-length filled with excellent blackened aggression riffs!
Far more emotional than what they did a few LPs later! Raw black metal with a touch of melody from here and there (The 7th track is nice in its sorrowful and quite atmospheric realms).
Very skilled drummer who never ends the blasting war (and who had some personality), good bassist who included his own little touches, and far from being the least the vocalist wasn't the boring Legion as Joachim hadn't left them at this time, this guy had the true spirit and some excellent vocals Legion lacks!
This album wasn't only blasting, there were some totally explosive black metal aggressiveness riffs in the vein of Marduk, but also some more melodic and totally emotional and spiritual moments. (Check the first track at the 2/3 of its length, you little Cradle of filth fanatic, and die!).
On this release, black metal meant much more than seeming evil, playing 0,5$ riffs and screaming like false sodomized pigs, this "Opus nocturne" came straight from the guts of ageless sufferings and had far more dark beliefs than most actual nowadays "Black metal" bands! How can they clame to be so true if the dark feeling and ultimate hatred can't be felt in their music? Die!
Some tracks in here are very well done, composed, and totally intense! Then freezes your skin! I still get some powerful thrills while listening to this piece of war!, hatred and aggression! "Opus nocturne" rules! A strong shame on Marduk for releasing flat and uninspired studio CDs after "Heaven shall burn"!
Total Score : 93
If somebody asked me today whether I like the Black Metal band Marduk, I wonder what I’d say first. I simply cannot decide whether I’d retort “ WHAT Black Metal?” or just reply “you must be joking!”. To be completely honest, the ‘full-speed ahead at any cost” so-called BM they have become so notorious for in the last 8 years may impress those who were barely out of their diapers in 1994, but it leaves people like me cold. I remember the days when “OPUS NOCTURNE” came out extremely well. In fact, I recall the day I was given a tape saying merely “MARDUK”, with no further details, and played it in my cassette deck.. I did not know it was the above-mentioned album, but I knew I had the honor of listening to something superior to the Death Metal or Thrash Metal releases I had more than enough of. That “something” had a name. It was called Black Metal!
Yes, Black Metal, and “OPUS NOCTURNE” surely deserves to be called that! I knew that even back then, when I first heard it. I had not had the chance to experience BM before that moment, but the characteristic sound, riffs and atmosphere have been engraved in my mind ever since. Any real adept of the genre will confirm that any album that falls under that category is hardly about creating a massive wall of sound and hammering away. The production values are instead focused on making the guitars buzzing/freezing enough, the drums as solid as possible and the overall sound simply cold. Dan Swanö did a fantastic job here. What is even more commendable is the fact that the bass on this release, unlike many other albums, is clearly audible and does not follow the guitars blindly. Even keyboards are present, though they are used scarcely and only at the most adequate moments. No instrument is made to be the slave of others, and the resulting effect and atmosphere are a bliss! To those that have yet to hear this work of art and need more details concerning the music, I say this: it’s fast, it’s melodic and as mentioned earlier, it’s pure musical frost. It belongs to the best releases of that period, which can be qualified as the glory days of BM.
So here it is. “Opus Nocturne” is definitely not going to appeal to everyone out there, but those seeking True Black Metal should adorn their collection with this jewel!
Opus Nocturne kicks off with the sound of a funeral organ and then quickly moves into blast-fest black metal of the most unchained fury. From the first couple songs, you may think this is a speed competition, but this CD has slower tunes and more variety than it leads you to believe at first listen. I'm not the biggest fan of Marduk's music, but I have to admit this is one of their few great releases, filled to the brim with quality, underground black metal. But what would a black metal album be without low production values? Not a black metal album.
This record has a significantly thin guitar sound, buried vocal shrieks, and over-the-top drums, but at least the bass is recognizable. As for songwriting, the drummer seems to steal the show here, as he bashes relentlessly through each track, and even on the slow songs, like "Materialized In Stone", he hits his drums exceptionally hard to make up for the lost momentum. There are good guitar riffs every now and then, but the guitarwork is noticeably less pronounced on Opus Nocturne.
It is easier to understand Marduk's love for blastbeats and semi-melodic compositions when you realize this band originally played death metal for the most part. That influence is still present and it is often very easy to see in the group's music. So although this release didn't really do anything profound for the black metal movement, it still delivers quality black metal with a fairly unique style and insanely fast and precise drumming. In short, black metal fans, of the new or old styles, should like this. It is one of Marduk's commendable works that is few and far between in their catalogue. --Visit www.Guitar6.com--