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Amazing Swedish Black Metal - 97%

MaDTransilvanian, September 15th, 2007

Here we have Marduk’s second album and damn is this one huge slab of black metal. And it’s quite an unknown one at that. This is actually the first Marduk CD I ever bought so I started right off the bat with their pre-Panzer Division Marduk work, apart from having heard Throne Of Rats and a few other songs online just to get an idea. I for one am a huge Marduk fan and I love both their old grim death metal (Fuck Me Jesus, Dark Endless…), their pure black metal (this album all the way through Nightwing) and finally the fast-as-fuck blastbeat black metal which has become the staple of their new sound (Panzer Division Marduk and beyond). Anyway, let’s get to the music.

During the first few seconds of the opening track, Darkness Breeds Immortality, you get a pretty good picture of what this album (and the band’s music for that matter) sounds like. It’s a pretty nice opening track and one of the more memorable tracks here even though they’re all great. One distinguishing feature one will immediately notice is the crazy drumming which although lighter than the massacres to come after 1999 is still pretty big for black metal. I’m referring to black metal in the old-school repetitive drumming style and not the blastbeat black metal style some bands are know for.

Throughout this album we have Joakim Göthberg, who delivers some very good but kind of standard black metal vocals. I like his vocals a lot and, as is normal and hoped for in black metal, they give off a very strong feeling of pain, suffering, death…just like we love it! The vocals, however, are not the central aspect of this and indeed of any Marduk album to date.

The true power of this album lies in the immensity of each single riff shred out by Marduk’s mastermind, only original member still in the band and guitarist, Morgan Håkansson. His talent at writing riffs is amazing…They’re extremely memorable throughout the album and give off this sort of repetitive (in a good way of course) and nocturnal feeling which truly is the real genius of this album. That and that slightly groovy style they have to them, especially on the fourth track, On Darkened Wings. That song has one of the most killer riffs composed which builds up throughout the song and then “let’s itself go” in short, amazing solos starting with the one at the 1:30 mark.

The production here is quite fitting for the genre it’s part of and while raw and abrasive enough not to have the often-decried pseudo-fault of “overproduction” which seems to have many black metal fans by the balls but still good enough so that all the instruments can be very well heard. Including the bass, which is very well done by the way, really well integrated.

Lyrics are above average stuff about fallen angels, despair, darkness and more of the usual black metal subjects for the most part. I say for the most part because of the title track’s lyrics. These stand out from the rest because they deal with the guys on the album’s cover. Those Of The Unlight. Judging from both the album cover and the song’s lyrics, I’m positively sure that the band’s inspiration for these guys comes from none other than from the Nazgûl in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings. Judge for yourself:

Forever dying but never dead
The nine - Those of the Unlight

Frozen on the very brink's of death
Enslaved by the dark lord

Forever dying but never dead
The nine - Those of the Unlight

For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, there were nine Nazgûl, who were neither dead nor living, enslaved by the dark lord Sauron and the guys on the cover look strangely similar to the Nazgûl portrayed in Peter Jackson’s motion pictures. And it’s a pretty fucking awesome cover too for that matter. I see this more subtle homage to The Lord Of The Rings as more interesting than other bands which seem to be centered around the subject (Summoning, plus many bands named after LOTR things).

Highlights here include the opener Darkness Breeds Immortality, the title track and On Darkened Wings, with Wolves being a pretty strong number as well. That last one's not the best here as they seem to believe from the many live performances of the track but anyway....very good track.

So is this worth getting? Only if you’re a black metal fan, and you should be if you’re reading this. And I can guarantee you complete satisfaction, as this can run with the best in black metal. True Swedish Black Metal at its finest, no doubt about it. It might take a good number of listens to really get to understand this album more though. But it’s well worth the time. A great album from a great band.