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Opus of the Unlight - 90%

Hames_Jetfield, January 3rd, 2021

When one of the bands releases their third lp and puts the word "opus" in the title, something is going on! But with Marduk...a lot of good things happen! Their third album, "Opus Nocturne" (sic!) is an album as successful as the previous one. There are no major changes or radical moves in relation to what was between "Dark Endless" and "Those Of The Unlight", but it does not mean that the band recorded music identical to "Those...".

On "Opus Nocturne" a lot of effort has been made to make the material sound different. The sound, the length of most of the tracks (often exceeding 5 minutes), Joakim's vocals (less manic) and the proportions of brutality and climate (with a slight predominance of the latter) are different here. All these "novelties", however, blend well with the music and show another, slightly different face of the band. And most importantly, the "religious" Marduk was much better than the "war" one! The longer tracks, in particular, are interesting here, the most of which, as I mentioned, were on the album, for example "The Sun Has Failed", "From Subterranean Throne Profund" or "Sulfur Souls". From the "standard" shorter and chaff-oriented ones, only "Autumnal Reaper" remained, the only one that fits into the most famous style of Marduk - which is quite a strange result for an album with primitive black metal. In this case, however, longer songs make sense, the atmosphere and Morgan's riffs do the most job in them.

An exceptionally nice diversion is also "Untrodden Paths (Wolves Part II)" - as the title suggests, a continuation of "Wolves" from its predecessor, composed with even greater panache and a similarly gloomy atmosphere, but also showing that on such not too ambitious patents as creating new part of the older songs, the band can defend themselves perfectly. Then, the slowest "Materialized In Stone", a very atmospheric title track and probably the greatest hit "Opus Nocturne" - "Deme Quaden Thyrane", with ultra-catchy riffs, can pull you in. The sound, again made by Dan Swanö, is also great - raw and bitter, and at the same time clearly legible and without black metal "buzzing".

It all adds up to a great longplay for Marduk, actually one of their best alongside the previous two. From the climate to the brutality, everything just on "Opus Nocturne" is correct! There is hardly any better compensation in this style.

Originally on:

A flash in the pan - 90%

we hope you die, July 14th, 2020

More notes from the b-tier, this time from an artist that – aside from some early flukes that would endure the test of time – were entirely unremarkable when compared to the crop of acts from the early to mid-1990s.

Marduk are another that need little teeing up from me. Halfway decent spokespeople for Swedish black metal that quickly stagnated into a no trick pony of monotonous blasting. Despite it’s patchy reputation and unfocused riffing, I believe there was potential in their debut ‘Dark Endless’. But from this half formed death metal, they quickly solidified their sound into a straightforward black metal approach on ‘Those of the Unlight’. Then by 1994 they vaulted forward into new heights of artistic achievement with the release of ‘Opus Nocturne’. Whether it was the frequent line-up changes that dogged the band at the time, or the uncertainty of youth throwing up accidental moments of genius, is really besides the point; out of this we get albums like ‘Opus Nocturne’. This is a tight, focused rendering of energetic black metal that manages to capture a broad emotional range within Marduk’s dogmatically rigid approach to the style.

Production is pretty standard for the era. Because this is black metal that focuses more on an aggressive tapestry of riffs and speed than melancholy, the drums are key to achieving this as they jump from blast-beat to blast-beat with frequent fills and relentless double bass to flesh out the sound. For that reason they are high in the mix but not distractingly so. The same goes for the bass, which is surprisingly audible and does a good job of complimenting the straightforward guitars without overshadowing them. The vocals really shine here. Although they are fairly run-of-the-mill for black metal, they are committed to the moment in combining melodrama and aggression which really elevates the music to something more epic when it needs to.

Marduk use a frantic riff salad approach to crafting each track, but they balance this with an internal logic, so that the patient and attentive listener will discovery micro moments of poetry in their interaction, fleshed out by each transition and brought to life with energy and colour by the drums. They walk a tight-rope in this regard, as it’s a style that can quickly batter the listener into becoming overwhelmed by the volume and speed with which they follow each other. But on ‘Opus Nocturne’, Marduk apply enough internal logic to the repetition and development of each idea, thus justifying the structure – however chaotic – after the fact, and allowing us greater moment-by-moment satisfaction on repeated listens. This also means that each part can be kept relatively simple. The chord progressions themselves are commonplace for black metal, but it’s the connections and interactions between each passage that really make this album shine. And from this structural foundation Marduk are able to get a lot of mileage out of the simplest melodic adornment, and the most basic of harmonies, or a welcome reprieve of a slower tempo here and there. A triumph of logic as much as creativity.

An analysis of this album may be fairly limited in terms of instructive efficacy. But any agenda that plays down the historical importance of Marduk is in danger of overplaying their hand when it comes to dismissing albums like this. Whether honest and successful executions of an idea or accidents of inexperience, they endure to this day as a cut above the vast array of black metal coming out by the mid-90s that would eventually prove to be the death of the second wave. Marduk, however limited they turned out to be as a band in the long term, achieved some early successes regardless, deserving of remembrance in our history.

Originally published at Hate Meditations

One of their best ever! - 90%

dismember_marcin, September 29th, 2016

Personally I always divide Marduk history on three periods: the first one are albums number one – three, then there’s Legion era and finally we have the great and successful period with Arioch on vocals. Each of these times offered us, the fans, some fantastic albums, although I do must admit that maybe the early days of the band are those which I like the least. For example I am not a big fan of the “Dark Endless” album. But on the other hand I think that “Opus Nocturne” is one of Marduk’s finest records ever. Maybe I’m just being sentimental a little, as this is also the first album I heard from this band, I think I heard it around 1995. But even if so, it doesn’t change the fact that the music on “Opus Nocturne” is damn fantastic. Basically everything on this record is perfect, starting with the great artwork (I guess I only don’t like those drawings of each band member haha), the production and finishing with the music. Great, great stuff.

Style wise “Opus Nocturne” is a natural consequence of the two previous Marduk albums. Many of the riffs, arrangements, paces, vocal sound are similar or in the same vein, but I think that the band evolved and simply got better since “Those of the Unlight”. And one of the best things about “Opus…” is that it contains many more atmospheric parts, which give the music deeper feeling and more diversity. It’s not just a cannonade of unstoppable drumming and slaughtering riffs. It has some slower songs, sometimes the music gets a bit more melodic or even epic, using even some keyboards! And it doesn’t disturb to sound harsh, evil and dark, as always! I must especially mention here the title track, as it’s short, but simply excellent, with a great main melodic theme and some spoken vocal parts in the end. It sounds truly melancholic in my opinion, far from the raging and vicious black metal, which Marduk is usually known for. Then we have memorable and catchy “Materialized in Stone”, which even if is much slower that the usual stuff, belongs to Marduk’s best known tracks, a must for the liveset on many, many gigs the band played in their career. And this song stands out from the rest of “Opus Nocturne” for sure, interestingly reminding me some old Dissection. It’s also cool to hear rehearsal version of this song, as surprisingly it contains some clean vocal parts – and they’re probably the only clean vocals I can remember to hear from Marduk. I must also mention “Deme Quaden Thyrane”, even if I regret that they didn’t decide to carry on with the slow pace this song begins with. It starts great, but then it all is abruptly interrupted with another blasting piece. “Sulphur Souls” on the other hand is a great mixture of malicious and violent riffing with some slow, majestic pieces with keyboards increasing the dark aura. And it works great in this song.

Of course Marduk also delivers a lot of relentless, vicious and fierce, truly fast and aggressive tracks, like “Autumnal Reaper”, “From Subterranean Throne Profound”, “The Sun Has Failed“ but I like especially the mighty “Untrodden Paths (Wolves Part II)”, which sums up what early Marduk was about perfectly. A lot of neck breaking speed, but also some slower, kind of death / black metal bits and arrangements, so characteristic for the band in their early albums. And the most important thing is that all these songs complete a great album and work great together. I really like the atmosphere of this music, the production is also good, the performance from each member (B.War!) is top notch… so yeah, there’s just nothing wrong here.

And for this review I was actually spinning the Regain / Blooddawn Records vinyl reissue from 2008. It had a different artwork from Kris Verwimp – similar in style, but not quite as good as the original one. And the LP contains three songs recorded during a rehearsal, which is a nice addition. It is a good reissue, anyway.

Standout tracks: “Materialized in Stone”, “Untrodden Paths (Wolves Part II)”, “Opus Nocturne”, “The Sun Has Failed”
Final rate: 90/100

Infectious - 92%

Felix 1666, August 1st, 2015

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".

One of A Handful - 93%

StainedClass95, August 5th, 2014

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.

Great Swedish Black Metal - 100%

FullMetalAttorney, November 16th, 2010

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

A Dark Black Metal Jewel - 93%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, December 1st, 2008

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.

You will Never Forget This - 93%

Reza, September 19th, 2007

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

Marduk's best effort by far - 100%

Kristenhat666, November 19th, 2006

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!