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Blackened death metal incarnate - 79%

robotiq, June 8th, 2021

In 1991, Marduk played a blistering form of blackened death metal. They sounded nothing like the speedy black metal band of later recordings. Marduk only released one demo, which was unusual for a Swedish death metal band of the time, most of whom were stacked with pre-album output. That demo, "Fuck Me Jesus", is good though. I like this evil style of Swedish death metal; keyboards, hard riffs, rasping vocals. It differed to the crusty vibes of more famous death metal bands like Entombed and Dismember. The originator of this underground Swedish ‘blackened’ style was undeniably Grotesque (particularly their "Incantation" EP), Marduk also played their part in its development (along with Darkified and Necrophobic).

The music on this demo will be familiar to anyone who has heard the band's debut album ("Dark Endless"). All three songs would later appear on the album. They all sound better here. There is magic in the underground production that blurs the boundaries between one riff and the next. It creates a seamless feel. The sound is rawer and fuzzier than on the album, and has an earthiness that the album lacks. This is one of Dan Swanö's earliest recording jobs, and he was finding his feet as a producer here. He named his studio 'Gorysound' instead of the more professional ‘Unisound’ in these early days. I get the sense that Swanö was looking to Tomas Skogberg (at Studio Sunlight) for inspiration when he recorded this, but he also had an emergent trademark sound of his own.

None of the three songs on here are compositional masterpieces. They are just solid, evil death metal tunes. They are packed with creepy melodies and hard riffs, and none of them outstay their welcome. The best of the three is probably "Departure from the Mortals" by virtue of it being the most recognisable. My favourite riffs appear on "Within the Abyss" though, which has a mean, bass-led stomp and some real doom-laden vibes towards the end. My only criticism of this demo is the pointless intro/outro, which is annoying and only dampens the atmosphere. At least they were cut as separate tracks which means they can be skipped.

This demo rivals "Opus Nocturne" as my favourite Marduk recording. There were not too many bands making this kind of death metal back then, and surprisingly few have done it since. Marduk also lost this brooding, sinister vibe when they became a black metal band. "Fuck Me Jesus" may not sound as unhinged as the mighty Grotesque, but I would put it on par with Darkified's excellent "Sleep Forever" seven-inch from the following year. This is an overlooked demo in the history of Swedish death metal. If you're working your way through the archives then make sure you don’t skip over this one.