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Let me start this review with three basic statements. Firstly, "Wormwood" is a good album. Secondly, it offers a few grenades that join the long row of Marduk's incredibly fantastic tracks. Thirdly, and this is the crucial thing, one has the feeling that Marduk fail to use their full potential. Of course, I am talking of an enormously big potential. Nevertheless, it is always a pity to realize that a band falls short of its opportunities.
Generally speaking, "Wormwood" does not surprise with unexpected or unsuitable features. In terms of style, it blends more or less harmoniously with the other works of the long-lasting Swedish combatants. Its average velocity may be a little bit lower than on the majority of their further outputs. But this does not hurt the degree of cruelty. Rather, the slow-moving songs give Mortuus the possibility to deliver very expressive vocals. His inhumane pitch ennobles viciously creeping tunes like "To Redirect Perdition". Better still, the song has also remarkable background vocals. They sound like the cries of a manipulated mass that hails its leader or the diabolic minister of propaganda. Yes, you are right, I am thinking of my misdirected ancestors 70 years ago that cheered Dr. Goebbels, the athletic model Aryan with a crippled foot, in the "Sportpalast" of Berlin. Or is it just a coincidence? The lyrics do not deal with this topic.
But according to Morgan's interest in history, "Funeral Dawn" takes us back to the Third Reich. The song is about the funeral procession for Reinhard Heydrich. One can watch the official "Wochenschau" on YouTube that treated this issue. It is amazing to see that "Funeral Dawn" captures the atmosphere of this event perfectly. The death cult, the oncoming end of the once prospering (yet murderous) whole Reich and the desperation in view of the irreplaceability of a charismatic leader (from the point of view of the regime) are mirrored by the agonized main riff. The disciplined, ponderous rhythm reflects the scenes of the silently marching mourners as well. Not only due to the perfect congruence between the topic of the lyrics and the musical implementation, this tune is my personal favourite on "Wormwood".
Unfortunately, some songs of the full-length lack of minor flaws. The opener tries to impress with velocity and mercilessness, but an almost amateurish break damages the intended effect. (The same applies for the album as a whole. The fourth piece, a kind of prayer, is completely useless and hurts the overall impression.) Basically, it can be said that the high velocity tracks are in a difficult position. "This Fleshly Void", for instance, cannot be seen as a filler. But when push comes to shove, the song cannot compete with the great number of previous speedsters of Marduk. However, "Into Utter Madness" and "Phosphorous Redeemer" (ingenious title) constitute the positive exceptions while unleashing an intensive storm of steel. They stand in sharp contrast with the lame closer that adds no value to the album.
The ten songs benefit from the aggressive mix, but the decent technical implementation cannot compensate for the relatively weak compositions. The emphasis here is on "relatively", not on "weak". Nevertheless, a new Marduk album, and that is nothing else but a matter of course, must always be judged on the basis of the quality of their previous works. In this context, "Wormwood" appears slightly pale.
One night I was intoxicated and pissed off and I wanted something pummeling to listen to so I could live vicariously through the music. I had heard the name Marduk thrown around and even though I generally hate black metal, I looked them up on Spotify and listened to Wormwood since it was the first album that came up on the list. To my surprise I enjoyed it enough (for reasons beyond the fact that it was insanely heavy and intense) that I wanted to listen to it again the next day. And the next. Coincidentally, I was in a record store later that week and found the CD used and at quite a decent price. It was obviously the will of some deity (most likely Tiamat or Ba'al).
One of my biggest criticisms of death and black metal is how one-dimensional bands' songs and sounds tend to be. Yet Wormwood defies this (and other) genre stereotypes with mostly fantastic results. Generally in heavy metal, the slow songs or "groove" songs of the album tend to be the worst and most boring ones. However, on Wormwood, "Funeral Dawn" may be the centerpiece. There is one central slow riff that is repeated, but the riff is so good and the atmosphere that they create around the song is so potent that I find myself getting lost in an almost trance-like state until the song ends. "To Redirect Perdition," in a similar manner, shows that metal does not need to be hyper-fast to be heavy and intense.
Another thing that drives me crazy about a lot of death and especially black metal is the reliance and expectation of low-budget and/or poor sound. If Wormwood had poor sound, this would have been a far less effective album. Thankfully, the instruments are crystal-clear but super-heavy. Even the bass is audible, which is great because Devo writes some great bass lines that do more than just follow the guitars. He even has a couple of solos and he really adds power to the entire album. The production does a great job with adding effects and other things, like that bell ring near the beginning of "Phosphorous Redeemer" as the main riff kicks in, the crowd shouts in "To Redirect Perdition" or that haunting church bell in "Unclosing the Curse," which serves as an intro to "Into Utter Madness."
Performance-wise, the guitars and drums are about as good as one could hope for in black metal. Tremolo riffs galore, yet there is enough variety to keep the songs interesting and prevent the album from blending together while justifying the sometimes longer-than-usual song lengths. The drums are all over the place, creating exciting fills and upping the pace while maintaining the rhythm and never seeming over-extravagant.
One of the arguments that n00bs use against extreme metal is how it does not take talent to perform the vocals and that they cover up their lack of ability by yelling. As much as it annoys me, they do have a point. The Steve Tucker Morbid Angel albums would have benefited from more than just some doofus burping into the microphone throughout, for example. Mortuus proves that extreme metal vocalists can add something to the albums they perform on, rather than being hindrances or, at the very best, a part of the music that we tune out or categorize as a part of the rhythm. He changes pitch and mingles different types of screams, yells and growls to create what is probably, in my limited experience, one of the best extreme vocal performances out there. And he does it without any clean vocals whatsoever!
Wormwood is not perfect, though. "Chorus of Cracking Necks" is pure filler and, though it shows potential, "As A Garment" is a weak album closer. Even so, Wormwood not only defies many of the stereotypes of the genre (while not sacrificing their overall vision), but it also displays a surprisingly long shelf-life. There is plenty to discover through repeated listens and an uncharacteristic depth to many of the songs. While I would not necessarily recommend this to entry-level extreme metal fans (even if more seasoned extreme-metal fans would consider me entry-level), I would recommend this highly to fans of dark, intense and heavy music.
Marduk have been around for nearly twenty years now. Since their inception, year after year, they’ve managed to put out release after release of uninteresting black metal norsecore of the most insidiously mediocre type. Then, three years ago, they released Rom. 5:12, a departure from their previous style which disappointed their loyal fanbase but gained the attention of people like myself. Then, Wormwood.
This is Marduk’s eleventh album, consisting of ten songs and clocking in at roughly 45 minutes. While the previous album’s departure from boring norsecore boded well, no one would have been able to predict the sheer excellence Wormwood would achieve. The first track starts off with some atmospherics, including a man’s distorted yelling, before giving way to furious black metal guitars that would’ve done Mortuus’ Funeral Mist proud. The guitars in question don’t sound a whole lot different from the ones on Rom 5:12, except that the bass has been lowered considerably and the riffs are far more memorable. The drumming is highly skilled and varied while still remaining on the top tier speed-wise, which is the least one could expect from Lars Broddesson. Mortuus’ vocals, however, are what make this album complete, picking up his style from the first Funeral Mist album; neither shriek, roar or groan but somewhere in between all three, engineering a commanding tone that has not been paralleled by anyone else. Just like the previous album, the production is crystal clear.
To be quite frank – and I never thought I’d be saying this about a Marduk album – this was one of the best black metal albums of 2009. Very few times has an established band managed to almost completely transform its sound successfully, and said transformation being such a considerable improvement. I recommend this album particularly to everyone who’s ever hated Marduk.
-Originally written for Fueled Magazine
"And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter." (Revelation 8:10, 11)
Before starting this review, I must confess something that might upset and anger the most elitist of Marduk fans : I never had the guts to listen to this band. Why? Not because I detest black metal at any rate. I have to look for something outstanding in metal music, whether it would be black metal or any other sub-genre. My first experience with the Swedish warlords came with their album World Funeral , back in 2003. The sound wasn’t of my liking. In fact, I considered it to be rubbish, especially with the intolerable, despicable vocals of their former vocalist, Erik “Legion” Hagstedt and the suffocating, over-cacophonic production.
Nevertheless, a second chance had to be given in the form of credibility... somewhat. Out comes Rom 5:12 in 2007, a real full-length experience from my part, an enduring one that paid off at the end. I was stunned by the changes this band have gone through with this album, specially from the tortured and anguished religious blasphemy of Daniel “Mortuus” Rosten whose vocal range is pretty impressive, going from wails to whispers and culminating into gnarly shrieks (kind of a Swedish version of Attila Csihar), the extremely audible bass lines from Magnus “Devo” Andersson, the slick yet abrasive riffs of Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson and the impeccable, yet dirty drumming from the session drummers (E. Dragutinovic and A. Gustaffson). Its production was a step-up from the previous albums, as far as I can tell. Swampy and dirty, yet coarse and straight-forward as always, adding some more experimentalism and injecting new blood into Marduk’s veins, specially on the song “Accuser/Opposer” with some surprisingly effective clean vocals. Not only was Marduk reborn musically, but also thematically as well with Rom 5:12, embarking on a more biblical and atmospheric path.
Two years later, Wormwood is released and things are seemingly getting more and more interesting from here on in. Marduk have indeed done the unthinkable once again and just like its predecessor, this album is pure religious madness. The album title takes its influence from the New Testament Book of Revelation and it has undoubtedly more than just a conceptual link. The whole atmosphere of this album is poisoned, doomed and intricately raw.
Starting with the short and direct “Nowhere, No-One, Nothing”, it’s obvious that Marduk intend to crush your ears in cacophonic fashion after the silent distortion and wails that begin this dangerous journey. Harsh, fast-paced riffs from Morgan, furious drumming from the newcomer Lars Broddesson, audible bass lines from Devo (who also produces the album) and as you expected from Rom 5:12, rotten vocal dementia from Mortuus himself are more than rewarding. “This Fleshly Void”, “Into Utter Madness” (containing the most infuriating and otherworldly tremolo-picking that I have heard from a black metal band so far) and “Chorus of Cracking Necks” follow in similar fashion, even though the tempo shifts are different from one another.
Nevertheless, when I mentioned that the band found new ways to explore their usual cacophony, I wasn’t lying. In fact, listen to “Funeral Dawn”, a nearly six-minute militant march that can only be directed towards death. The pound-by-pound drumming, the wailing dictations of Mortuus, the agonizing riffs and bass lines and the screeching, disorienting atmosphere explain this aspect and make the song more unique and distinguished from the rest of the album. Counting “Unclosing the Curse” as a simple, yet unorthodox transition, the album has some other highlights of its own. “Phosphorous Redeemer” is a catchy and razor-sharp number that has an arsenal of bombastic riffs, ever-infinite blast beats and sickly vocals. You expect, somewhat, a familiar Marduk trademark. “Whorecrown” is a little bit more technical and unpredictable, even for Marduk standards with the scintillating, almost Deathspell Omega-esque cristallized riffs and with the numerous shift changes. Also, I might add that the bass is stellar on this song. It complements everything else. Regardless, there are some slower-paced songs that appear on Wormwood such as “To Redirect Perdition” and “As a Garment”, which is a pleasing ending to such a feverish album.
In the end, Marduk have reshaped themselves for the better with this newest effort and the preceding one before it. With a decent amount of experimentation, they obviously put their past behind them and for the better, all credit going to Mortuus for his exceptional abilities as a vocalist and a lyricist as well. Only time will tell where will they boldly go next.
Standout Tracks : Nowhere, No-One, Nothing, Funeral Dawn, This Fleshly Void, Phosphorous Redeemer and Whorecrown
Those of the Unlight was the first black metal album I ever heard back in the day and Marduk is one of the few bands from the early 90s that I still keep up with. Over the course of almost twenty years and a dozen albums, the band seemed stuck in a holding pattern and you pretty much knew what you were getting with every new Marduk album. That changed with 2007s superb ROM 5:12 where the band slowed down, introduced clean vocals and laid a lot more emphasis on atmosphere.
Wormwood, the band’s twelfth studio album and latest carries on from where ROM 5:12 left but if anything, this is just a little better. The band still focuses on building a thick sludgy atmosphere through their black metal and even when they are going at it full speed ahead, the atmosphere is retained to startling effect. Main man and guitarist Morgan Hakansson really has pulled out all the stops on Wormwood. The songs run the gamut from fast, chaotic and angry to monstrously slow dirges that threaten to suffocate. Mortuus’s vocals go from your normal black metal screech to a pretty cool growl and back to the tortured shrieking from the toilet bowl of hell. It’s a powerful performance and doesn’t really cross over into the realm of parody. The big change in the sound though, comes from bass player Magnus Andersson whose bass is given even more prominence on Wormwood than on the last album and the result is an always thick and murky atmosphere to these songs regardless of the pace at which the band is playing.
Stand out tracks include album opener Nowhere, No-one, Nothing which comes raging out of the speakers in classic full speed ahead Marduk style, This Fleshy Void which is rabid and chaotic enough to have been on any of the band’s first three albums, Phosphorous Redeemer which mixes the familiar chaotic speed of the band with a slowed down chorus and an actual groovy bass line and the awesome To Redirect Perdition which is more sludgy black metal. The absolute highlight of the album is the martial sludge of Funeral Dawn. Imagine the power of Red Harvest channeled through black metal and you’ll get an idea of just how powerful this song is. Album closer As a Garment once again slows things down and ends superbly with more prominence for the bass than ever before and there are no bad songs on Wormwood. It’s all just different levels of good.
The band has really raised their game on Wormwood. The best thing about Wormwood is that Marduk has managed to seamlessly integrate their black metal fury with the slower sludgy parts that are a relatively new addition to their sound and they do this while still keeping the music chaotic, dirty as fuck and atmospheric. This might just be Marduk’s best yet.
Originally written for http://www.kvltsite.com
One could be tempted to claim that, in many ways, MARDUK are the embodiment of what is essentially known as Black Metal. With almost two decades of blasphemy tainting their conscience, Morgan Steinmeyer and his often-rotating band of hoodlums have gone to hell and back, earning equal amounts of adoration and animosity on their journey. With 2007's "Rom 5:12" meeting a mixed reception, which is par for the course in the grim world of MARDUK, "Wormwood" keeps the same line-up, including Mortuus of FUNERAL MIST behind the microphone.
This year also marks the ten-year anniversary of that often talked-about "Panzer Division", which set the standard for fast Black Metal for years to come. This insane speed is not completely gone from the band's arsenal, but the pummelings are divided by slower headcrushing crawls. These two modes of MARDUK both have their strengths and weaknesses. "Funeral Dawn" is one of the best MARDUK-tracks since "Nightwing", and the lack of speed is more than made up for with a heavy delivery of blows, complimented by Mortuus' totally over-the-top croaking and bellowing. His often theatrical delivery places him on equal grounds with, if not above, Legion's work on the band's prime albums.
On the faster side of things, "Into Utter Madness" delivers the classic MARDUK-assault, while the shattering "Chorus Of Cracking Necks" takes home the prize for the most evil track, as well as the best title of the year. Add a production that long since departed from bedroom-distortion, without going over the accepted amount of polishing, and you've got yourself a quality addition to a rather uneven discography. On the downside, the band seems to have taken some inspiration from the Gothenburg-school, with a few leads and riffs feeling almost uplifting in nature. Some of the tracks tend to go nowhere, and especially a couple of the slower numbers feel like pointless filler, with closer "As A Garment" being the worst offender. This sees the band experimenting with hymn-like elements, which falls flat as an anti-climatic bore, even though it might work well as a sing-along for upcoming live ceremonies.
While it's nowhere near their prime work (a title still held by "Nightwing"), "Wormwood" still delivers the required fill of MARDUK. For a band that has only gradually changed their style through 19 years, the continued demand for more is testament to their longevity. Who would have thought that the guys who recorded "Fuck Me Jesus" would still be relevant in 2009?
(Online November 29, 2009)
Written for the Metal Observer
Marduk has caught a lot of slack over the past decade or so for being the 'mediocre' black metal band, despite years of hard work and touring. While I can't deny that the band has released a great deal of 'just alright' albums, they do have a few black gems shining in the backlog (I actually like Panzer Division Marduk). That said, 11th album Wormwood has been quite the surprise! The Swedes seem to be branching out into a truly grimy and hypnotic direction here, picking up where Rom 5:12 left off.
This is still black metal, of course, and it's still Marduk; but for once, the band's blasting ferocity is not always the forte on this album. It happens, and it happens fairly frequently, but some of the best material you will find on Wormwood are the slower tracks. "Funeral Dawn" is a slow march with very sparse, loose percussion and some excellent, grim melodies that bite right through the rhythm chords. "This Fleshly Void" succeeds due to Mortuus' strained, garbled vocals over a dusty black blast beat which guitars that reak of the churning of graveyard soil. "To Redirect Perdition" is slow and disgusting, flowing black/doom rhythms again carried by the incomparable vocals and some nice 'choral' samples. "Chorus of Cracking Necks" alternates between all out blasting frenzy and some minimal, dank guitars and breakdowns. The closing track "As a Garment" is another bizarre and mesmerizing slow piece.
The album has an oppressive atmosphere to it created through the use of the echoed vocals and keeping the guitars thin as they race through the razor-edged compositions. New drummer Lars Brodesson remains faithful to the band's momentum but I really admit to liking the simple percussion used in some of these tracks. I'm not sold that it's Marduk's best record yet, but it is certainly the most interesting thing I've heard from them and I hope they continue along this path.
It's been more than two and a half years since the last Marduk album, a trend (not in a negative context) that seems to have stuck with the band ever since Mortuus joined in 2004. “ROM 5:12”, the first truly collaborative effort of the otherwise completely new line-up was all but ingenious, a monster which took three years to craft and a most welcome change in the already somewhat stagnating output of the band. All of a sudden, the “Panzer Division” was allowed time to take a breath of fresh air and think things out, and it worked marvellously, even if being “too much black, too little metal”, as genre detractors still living in 1994 often point out. This made it rather impossible to be able to truly predict what the next album would sound like, and with the coming of (this year’s absolute highlight and finest moment, if you ask me) “Maranatha”, speculations of whether Funeral Mist (Mortuus’ side project) influences will finally pour straight into the sound of Marduk were endlessly discussed.
The first thing that really comes into mind while listening to this album is diversity. Indeed, Marduk has never been this diverse. The music itself isn’t that different compared to ROM 5:12, rather a logical step further in that direction, but an “experienced” Marduk fan is still likely to be surprised more than a few times during the first listening session. At times, I couldn’t help thinking “This really sounds like a Setherial riff” and so on. At one point during “Into Utter Madness”, there appears a shockingly melodic riff more akin to melodic death metal than black metal, even if for a short while, while the opening riff of “Whorecrown” could’ve been spawned by Deathspell Omega just as easily. These details, along with the underlying “special effects” and details, such as the neck-breaking sounds in “Chorus Of Cracking Necks”, truly contribute to the overall atmosphere and make for an interesting listening experience. However, it would be unfair not to say that this time around, the trademark Funeral Mist sound is just a bit too present, not that much in the actual riffs, but more in the overall feeling and the structure of the songs themselves. The most obvious example would be “Funeral Dawn”, a track that really sounds as if it’s been lifted from the “Maranatha” sessions and ported directly here. Also, almost every song has an intro of sorts, a feat highly unusual for Marduk. All these elements, coupled with a lacking production (I really can’t escape the feeling that it had to be louder and tighter – I prefer the production of “ROM 5:12” by far) does have a watering-down effect to a certain degree. The band simply seems to drop the momentum at times for reasons unknown to me – just as an example, “This Fleshly Void” has a stunning intro that really makes one expect a relentless and brutal assault to come, only to grow into a rather average riff – it’s details like these that kill off the potential of the album. And bluntly put, while I love the spectrum of sick voices Mortuus is able to vomit out, it’s gone a bit over the top this time around. The tortured rasps may work perfectly within the Funeral Mist context, but the guy really has a tremendous voice without all that extra touch and he shouldn’t refrain from using it more naturally, at least not in Marduk. The lyrical content, however, is the exact opposite, and I find them fitting the music like a glove, unlike some of the embarrassingly primitive and borderline-ridiculous lyrics of the past (“Fistfucking God’s Planet”, anyone?)
All in all, this album leaves an ambiguous, if biased, taste that the band simply had too much to handle this time around, that mere potential was not properly channelled into these forty-or-so minutes of sound. Despite instant “hits”, if I may be allowed to call them that, the album contains, such as the all-too-brutal “Phosphorous Redeemer” and the incredibly catchy, yet 100% evil “Whorecrown”, “Wormwood” simply lacks the feeling of coherence the previous album had too much to be named a mind-blowing release. But on the whole, it’s really good to see this many creative juices flowing in a band that’s been lasting for nearly two decades. They only need a tighter, more precise mould the next time around.
(originally written for www.metal-sound.net)
What’s this, bass solos? In MY Black Metal? Is this the Marduk we know and love? That depends on your relationship with this infamous Swedish syndicate.
The familiar Marduk earned their reputation with 1999’s “Panzer Division Marduk,” a half hour of constant blast-beat drumming and guitar riffs like a blizzard of daggers. Coupled with this extreme take on the genre, smacked with the pejorative of “Norsecore,” was the band’s lyrical fascination with World War II. The false reputation of Nazi sympathy was likely influential on the visas denied them for US tours.
So what has become of Marduk in the past decade? 2004’s “Plague Angel” was the perfection of the formula, with superior production and the vocal virtuosity of Mortuus. The result was a relentless storm of hellfire, never again recaptured. Why? They gave into criticism, and 2007’s “Romans 5:12” saw a forced attempt at progression: more emotional melodies, clean vocals, and slower tempos. But as Daniel Dennett said, true evolution produces “competence without comprehension.” Change cannot be forced, it must occur naturally.
With “Wormwood,” Marduk starts over, closer to the merciless fury of “Plague Angel,” but at the same time more dynamic and mature. Whereas prior experiments separated standard all-blasting songs and slower, groovier songs, tracks on this album have more transitions within the songs. This allows the intensity to be more consistently sustained, producing a more flowing, cohesive narrative.
Mortuus, as his name suggests, is the voice of death, one of the best in the genre. His vitriolic vocals range from throat-ripping shrieks, to guttural growls, to yells of malefic triumph. His variegated performance fits well the band’s departure from being a one-trick-demon-pony. The riffs, cleverly crafted as always, now sport the alliance of engaging drum rhythms just as much as the ruthless blast-beat attacks, in which this band is often accused of overindulging. All these elements combine most perfectly on the track “Into Utter Madness,” a malevolent onslaught both catchy and complex.
As my initial perplexity implies, the bass guitar on this album enjoys much more prominence than on your typical Black Metal opus. Its place in the production offers a fuller, deeper sound absent from the thinner, icier works of the past. On the other hand, this incites more claustrophobia than the cavernous “Romans 5:12.” The handful of bass solos, such as what ends the opening track, glimpse the more emotional side of Marduk, unveiling the undercurrent of sorrow beneath this aural vortex of violence.
Lyrically, the band has backed away from tanks and concentration camps, to the safer territory of death and blasphemy. The controversy was key to their identity, but if this is the price of letting these guys tour the US, I’ll take it.
So how does “Wormwood” measure up? On the one hand, it’s a marked improvement over the forced evolution of the previous album. Sadly, the spirit of that Black Metal blitzkrieg called “Plague Angel” could not be harnessed again. Still, through blood and iron, Marduk have sealed their status among the signature acts of Scandinavian Extreme Metal.
Sometimes you just need a little MARDUK to unclog the spiderwebbed corridors in the darkest parts of your head.
Sometimes you just need pure malevolent chaos, the Dante's tour of Hell on three shots of Five-Hour Energy, the hide-speed chase with Belial as your co-pilot to ensure musical doldrums temporarily become a thing of the past. After all, even the best of us can only take so much drudgery in extreme metal before the desire for decaptitation of the simplistically blasphemous kind should come to be. This is why we should all thank every dark lord in the lowest pits of the Nethearrealm for bands like MARDUK, whose two-dimensionality and all-out violent vulgarities are an ungod-send in times of metallic tedium. From speedball-esque neck-wreckers like "Panzer Division Marduk" and "Heaven Shall Burn..." to the slow, miasmic churning of "Dark Endless" and "La Grande Danse Macabre", there's something for anyone willing to devour depthless metal hellbent on the annihilation of your soul. Sometimes that's how it has to be.
And so we have "Wormwood"...
If there are three words that would best describe this piece of Satanically flavored beef jerky would have to be "BLACK FUCKING METAL". They just don't do it like they used to these days. And obviously MARDUK aren't ones to take the tried-and-true "mainstream" approach and instead opt for slicing the throats of priests and poseurs alike. DIMMU-inspired symphonic breakdowns be damned, for the dark side would truly prefer an incarnation of the violent, murderous kind. And "Wormwood" supplies their undivine hymns in a double-faced, Janus-style format; the fast, blast-beat monstrocites of "Nowhere, No-One, Nothing", "This Fleshy Void" and "Phospherous Redeemer", and the slower, RAMMSTEIN-like war marches of "Funeral Dawn" and "Into Utter Madness", where slashing guitars, thumping bass, and hammer-pounding drumwork come together in an unstoppable force of pure, wicked evil so dripping with shadowy black its dint is able to swallow your soul completely. But the more disturbing factor is the inhuman gurgling of Mortuus, proving to have one of the most original takes on black metal vocals and lyrics within the scene. Each scream pushes the listener one foor deeper into the fires of Hell, twisting and contorting lyrical features into an amorphous, incoherant sludge that was once human in approach. Such is the majesty of "BLACK FUCKING METAL".
So all in all this again proves to the metal world the unending fury of MARDUK. Disturbing, violent, chaotic, unfriendly...who could ask for anything more with their black metal? Hail Satan indeed...
Well here we are two years after the release of the most mature and elegant release from swedish warmachine Marduk, and while the album starts off with the same good ol' ultraviolence these guys are famous for, soon enough the listener will be able to realise this album is but the evolution of the new style developed in Rom 5:12.
Right in track 1 we're introduced to a heavy atmosphere which blends well with the relentless blastbeats which only stop at crucial points to create a vertiginous effect. And then comes track nº2, "As A Garment", which, reminiscent of their previous release, is actually a slow-paced, heavy and mournful song, with the bass taking the spotlight almost as much as the guitar does. All in all quite a rare moment in the overall history of the band.
The album follows in a similar suit since the relentless and everpresent blastbeast fest is often left aside to showcase a variety of rhythms and paces, along with riffs that pretty much avoid the usual formula of tremolo riffing until everyone else falls asleep. This album, as I said, is quite the continuation of the previous album, but this time we are introduced to a much more sophisticated evolution of the style, it seems they put more time, effort and thought to the composition of this album, which resulted in a much more enjoyable experience, which differs greatly from older albums which I could never finish listening because of acute boredom.
We're introduced to samples and sound effects which carry a heavy atmosphere, and there's even one mini-track right about halfway through the album, which is something I would have not expected from Marduk. It really adds to the general feeling of the album, which is loaded with contempt and the general feeling of the unavoidable end of humanity.
The riffing itself evokes quite a few different feelings, from impending doom to gloomy atmospheres, to relentless violence, to heroic imagery, to death and decay. The bass has this deliciously thick but clean sound which makes its presence notable throughout the whole album, and the drumming is not as abrasive as in previous releases. Vocals are pretty much as great as usual, and the same can be said about the guitar tone.
While this is not really groundbreaking or as remarkable as other albums released this year, this is definitely one of the best, most enjoyable albums from this crazy bunch of swedes also known as Marduk.
Originally written for the paper version of the Terror Cult Zine