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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 MardukĀ“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".