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The feeling you get from listening to MARDUK's infamous "Panzer Division Marduk" is not unlike being punched repeatedly in the face while a corpsepainted behemoth shouts at you very loudly. It might not be a very pleasant experience, and it will undoubtedly leave some bruises, but it's bound to be a huge fucking adrenaline rush. This might be why fans are so divided over this pinnacle of brutal Black Metal, this lightning fast war-machine either throws you off at the first turn, or leaves you hanging on like your life depended on it. I'm also convinced that this album contains every preconceived notion a regular soccer mom has about extreme Metal, from the “horrible racket” of the blastbeats, to the less-than-household-friendly song-names (“Christraping Black Metal” is a title for the ages).
As you probably already know, the basic concept of "Panzer Division Marduk" is total annihilation by warfare, played faster than you're ever going to hear anywhere else. The songs are driven by a completely ridiculous amount of blastbeats, and they fly by so rapidly that you'd think MARDUK were competing for an Olympic medal. When a band kicks off an album with such fierce intensity and rage, many listeners hope for the solace of some progressive elements, or at least an interlude. With "Panzer Division", don't bother, there are no such diversions from their ferocious charge, you just keep being pummeled further and further into the blood-soaked mud. MARDUK keep dealing out the lashings, and you just have to lay down and take it like a man, clenching your teeth as the jackhammer of the painfully cruel drums beats you down again and again.
As strange as it may seem, this never-ending flurry of straight-forwards pummeling that has made this album so notorious, is also the downfall of "Panzer Division Marduk". On the battlefield there might not be any boundaries to adhere to, but in music it would be nice to actually capture the listeners' attention with something vaguely resembling an actual riff or melody instead of simply stabbing them in the chest for 35 minutes. The aforementioned drums dominate the sound completely, there are virtually no riffs with staying power, and the vocals are completely muffled by the aural ultra-violence. The two bonus tracks on this Regain Records re-release, “Deathride” and “Todeskessel Kurland” are no exception, and aside from the improved album art there is nothing new find here.
If you're planning on enjoying "Panzer Divison Marduk" you are already in the wrong set of mind. This is not by any stretch a pleasurable listening experience, and it was never meant to be, it's a lesson in raping the ears of everyone within reach. If you're prepared to receive this sonic sodomy, "Panzer Division Marduk" absolutely lives up to the hype. On the other hand, if you're made from sugar and spice and everything nice, this is going to be an awfully painful fistfucking, courtesy of these rabidly blasphemous Swedes.
(Online July 1, 2008)
Written for the Metal Observer