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The real deal, but does that make it good? - 65%

SilenceIsConsent, January 21st, 2008

Back when I was still kind of getting into metal, I was always fascinated by black metal. I was always looking for what band was more brutal, more epic, more blasphemous, more of everything. I just needed more. Well one day I came across a band that seemed to really deliver all of that. That band was, you guessed it, Marduk! I remember when I first got into these guys, I could not stop watching the video clip for their song Hearse on youtube. But now, I have moved on. Not that I do not like black metal anymore, but I am now into more technical forms of metal. Marduk just really did not cut it anymore, and I realized how much my first Marduk album, Panzer Division Marduk, really sucked.

That is not to say the album is total crap. There is still plenty of good here. For one thing, the album is most certainly a black metal album. There is no question about that. You get the raw, overdriven, buzz saw sounding guitars. You get the blast beats. You get the raspy vocals preaching destruction of Christianity. You get it all on Panzer Division Marduk when it comes to brutal, balls out, no keyboards black metal. In some cases, this is a good thing, as too many black metal bands these days are using keyboards in their sound just to get global distribution, while Marduk has cut out a nice place in the metal underground by being raw and brutal everytime, all the time. Still, there is much to be desired on Panzer Division Marduk.

Most of the good from this album comes in its vocal and lyrical department. When it comes to these two departments, Marduk does not do any any real wrong. All the lyrics here are black metal. The song titles practically ensure it (does a song called Christraping Black Metal make you really question the nature of the music?).

Vocalist Erik "Legion" Hagstedt, has and always will be (to me), the voice of Marduk, and one of the best black metal vocalists ever. Now before you say I have a case of helloweencongitis (a disease that befalls fans of bands like Iced Earth and Helloween, where the singer on the band's best albums is viewed as irreplaceable and the new singer who replaces them may be better but people cannot accept them into the band and criticize them and the band at every turn), I say this because he actually is better then any Marduk vocalist that has come before him or after him. Legion, unlike most black metal vocalists, actually growls, not screams. His vocals are really audible on quite a few tracks (best on the title track and Blooddawn) and just are really awesome. Totally ghostly, demonic and haunting, and definitely will get under your skin. The lyrics he spits out, well they are all about the destruction of Christianity from the World War Two perspective. Before you go and call Marduk NSBM, let me just take a quick excerpt on how this works.

The album is told that Marduk are the Germans. Not the Germans in the sense that they are out to kill Jews and spread Anti Semitic messages, but in the sense that the Germans are the ultimate evil (which Marduk wants to be) and the Allies are Christianity (who they want to destroy). This may come off as the wrong message, but if you read the lyrics closely you will find this is not national socialist black metal garbage. It is not some folk influenced crap designed to spread racism, this is real black metal that is about destruction of Christianity and not Judaism. There, explained, do not argue about it.

Even in the riff department Marduk does make the songs at least a tad epic. The riffs definitely give you that hellish and frantic nature of combat during World War Two. Anyone play Call Of Duty here? That is what these songs make me think of, especially the desert campaigns. Any recent World War Two movie that has to do with the war against the Nazis will come to mind when you hear this album's riffs. Morgan is very good at making black metal riffs. Now if he would just stop playing leads. A lot of these songs are just interrupted by Morgan's "solos". Did I say solos? I don't mean solos, I meant virtual masturbation with the dreaded whammy bar. Not that having whammy bar use in your solo is bad, but when it is all whammy bar then it just sucks.

B War you can actually hear and make out, and his bass lines are surprisingly very good. They are a lot like that of Alex Webster's, but a bit more slower. Still this is not so bad. His lines are very well pronouced (primarily due to the production), and he provides a nice gap between Morgan's riffing and the blast beats. Frankly I'm surprised that they put him into the mix this well. This could have ended up just like Metallica's ...And Justice For All if this had gone without bass.

Fredrik Anderrson. Yeah this guy really doesn't need much introduction. He just blasts away at like the fastest possible speeds, throwing in an occasional and shitty tom drum fill every now and then. He has no skill in technicality, reservation, or variety. All blast beats. Nothing else.

As brutal as this stuff is, you just cannot headbang to it! It is all in the same time signature, all in the same key, it is all the same. It would be easier trying to headbang to Watchtower then here. The music is all the same. Besides using different samples of old World War Two movies and sounds of guns going off and the scream of Stuka divebombers, all the songs sound the same! Like there is almost no way to tell them apart. They all utilize a constant stream of blast beats that just gets fucking annoying after awhile. I mean, maybe a pure black metal fan likes this, but after maybe four listens I was starting to get bored. I cannot listen to this album straight through because of the onesidedness of it. Single songs I can tolerate, but not the whole album anymore. It is just that boring.

Well, for a black metal album, and for those who are only into the “true kvlt” material, Panzer Division Marduk is for you. The music is black metal with a capital B and is extremely brutal. However I just wish Marduk had put some brains into their music. Oh well, better luck next time.