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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--
Forget about Legion! Forget about play-as-fast-as-you-can scheme! "Opus Nocturne" is a definitevely different album - the other side of black metal. Rawness and coldness - those are the best words describing the music. Screetchy vocals, rustling guitars and agile drumming make the sound closer to "typical" black metal. Generally, none of the most recognisable Marduk elements can be found here, though few moments can sound similarly to those from "Heaven Shall Burn...", for example. There are more tempo changes, the music is a bit less intensive - "Materiallized in Stone" for example is based on slow, catchy riffs full of melody and black metal beauty...
If you want to hear something different under the same label, look for "Opus Nocturne". If you want another "Nightwing" do not touch this one.
First you have the funeral-mood organ. Then the words "praise hail Satan!" followed by seemingly neverending blastbeats and doublekicks, and a very bad production compared to regular metal albums. In other words classic black metal when it's at its best, one of my absolute faves of the genre and I just can't see why no one talks about this album nowadays.
It's always "Panzer division Marduk" or "La grande danse macabre", mostly the first mentioned. Sure they are good albums, especially the first, don't like the later that much. But I just don't think any of them have this classic sound which a good "real" black metal album should have. I dunno, I could be wrong about how people feel about this one generally - I did read a review of it, however the reviewer complained about the lack of variation or something. This is true black metal for gods sake! This is the way it's supposed to sound! Anyhow I hold it very close to my heart, I strongly encourage you to buy it before any other of their productions.