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Attack! - 89%

Beast of Burden, July 31st, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Century Media Records

It goes without saying the Swedish band Marduk are polarizing to many people. They've attracted many devoted followers and aroused feverish sentiments of disapproval from critics, all while not giving the slightest inkling of a fuck about the sentiments of those offended. Over their almost thirty years of pulverizing the masses with their distinctive, instantly recognizable black metal attack, there's nothing anyone can say now that hasn't been said since their debut EP Fuck Me Jesus saw the light of day back in 1991. With crucifixes inverted and an incontrovertible desire feeding the demented psyche of frontman, leader, and guitarist Morgan Håkansson, Marduk was poised to become "the most blasphemous band in the world."

2018 comes and they're on their 14th full-length studio release. Titled Viktoria, this album continues to tread the waters of WWII like its predecessor, Frontschwein, though with a bit more ferocity and a tighter, faster pace that's instantly noticeable. The album opens with the track "Werwolf," which, from what I looked up, was the name of a plan that the Nazis concocted to assault the Allied forces as they advanced through Germany. Yes, this album contains more talk about Nazis, but I won't even think of entertaining the notion that Morgan did this specifically to piss off the far left, or that any member of the band are Nazis, Neo-Nazis, skinheads, or racists. Marduk has tackled WWII subjects from the perspective of the Axis forces on albums before and nobody cried. Anyway, the song opens the album pretty decently, but it's not as strong as the title track that opens their last album and it's not as polished as that one. At a mere two minutes, it's the shortest song on the album.

I'll keep it brief from here. This album has everything you could want. Fast, bombastic blasting and intricate fast fills. Cold calculating riffs of pure, unmitigated evil. Vocals that pierce like the sharpest bayonet. A crisp production that's not too clean, but not too raw, either. Fredrik Widigs is a monster on the drums. I don't know when this man was recruited at the drummer, but Morgan should keep that motherfucker forever. He is chock full of personality, talent, and ferocity. Such precision and force behind the kit from song to song, beginning to end. No letting up. Mortuus returns to the microphone and proves once more that he stands tall, head and shoulders, above the pack. As he delivers these vocals, you can't help but feel the intensity behind the mic as he howls and screams his lungs out, spewing venom and hate with the conviction of these lyrics that depict graphic images of war, death, blood, destruction, and dismemberment, and then some. Devo's bass work is shockingly clear. Given the chainsaw guitars are so loud in every Marduk album now, I'm surprised the man can be heard. He does a commendable job, I will say that much. Nothing too special to report on the bass front, but he does he fair share on these songs.

I'm amazed that Marduk has been going strong for fourteen albums and still able to keep their songwriting fresh. With such a large discography over the course of 28 years, they've achieved seniority, yet the songwriting here is some of their best, most engaging stuff. You have an amazing song like "The Last Fallen," the fastest song on the album, contrasting with slow trudging burners like "Silent Night" at the end of the record, and they don't cancel each other out. The slow songs don't feel out of place when compared to the faster, more blast happy songs. "Werwolf" will make you chant right alongside Mortuus the chorus, and so will "Narva." Once that drum fill comes in and the drums stop, the guitars roar, and the bass thumps, I promise that you will raise your fists in the air and chant:

Hammering - keep hammering!
With bomb and with shell!
Hammering - keep hammering!
Again and again!

Marduk has done it again. They've created one hell of a record yet again. I've been spinning this album since the day I got my hands on it and I am absolutely happy to have a copy of this in my possession. If you've always loved Marduk from the beginning, you probably already own this and think it's the best thing they've ever written. If you've never listened to or never heard of Marduk and you want to give them a try, this is a good place to start. It's out now, so get off your ass and buy this!

Black Metal Victory - 95%

lamb666, June 29th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, 12" vinyl, Century Media Records

I've never made any secret of Mortus era Marduk being my favourite of all. I love all of their albums since Plague Angel and this one is no exception. The opening track Werwolf is a little punky, Although I liked it, I hoped the entire album would not sound like that. Never fear, what follows is very much later era Marduk. The rest of the album is Marduk belting out savage black metal at break neck speed. Clocking in at thirty three minutes this album represents a swift uppercut delivered by professionals.

The unrelenting blasts are carefully tempered by slower and even melodic patches to great affect. Every detail of this album has been carefully crafted. Any filler has been left on the cutting room floor. A good example of this is when Narva comes to a crescendo with forceful drumming and vocals followed by a masterful melodic guitar piece. I defy anyone to resist the urge to chant "hammering - keep hammering" along to this one.

Fredrik Widigs has already proven himself to be and excellent choice of Marduk drummers, but he has really outdone himself this time. Everything he hits he does so perfectly with a style of his own. He really powers a lot of the tracks on this album. Equally effective at high and low speeds his performance is outstanding on this one. The blasting as well as subtle touches on The Last Fallen showcase just what this guy can do. Singer Mortus delivers his usual ferocious vocals and Morgan and Devo turn in the performance of their lives.

If chainsaw riffing, blastbeats and viciously delivered vocals are your thing, accept no substitute. Those expecting Opus Nocturne part two will keep having to wait. For a band on their fourteenth album to be this relevant is almost unheard of. Doubtless the continued use of world war two lyrics will gather more attention from some corners than necessary. Personally I find it refreshing. I have at least five hundred albums with purely satanic themes and to be honest it is good to hear black metal bands expanding beyond that.

Blitzkrieg - 90%

Felix 1666, June 24th, 2018

The antique drama has always fascinated the audience and the rise and fall of the National Socialist movement of Adolf Hitler was probably the ultimate, most devastating and most criminal perversion of its script. This might be a reason why the horrors of World War II are still present, at least in Germany, but also in further parts of Europe. And the sheer size of the military, ideological and moral disaster of uncle Adolf and his dubious circle of friends seems to be a never ending inspiration for the extreme metal scene. Sweden was not really involved in the European catastrophe of the years 1939 to 1945, if we leave the constant delivery of ore to the Third Reich out of consideration. Anyway, even the descendants of the more or less neutral observers are not able to close the book called World War II. Marduk's "Viktoria" proves evidence.

The iconic artwork is Marduk's answer to "Slaytanic Wehrmacht" shirts and "Heydrich" stickers. It relies on the aesthetics of the German propaganda and makes its mark. Its simple and clear message lies in close proximity to the glorification of the German Landser and the music does not leave much room for interpretation as well. The Swedes love to play with fire... Either way, air raid sirens welcome the listeners and pull them directly into the combat. Marduk invite the hordes to a feast that connects "Frontschwein" with "Panzer Division Marduk" and the German title "Viktoria" - instead of "Victory" - seems to indicate that there is an inner coherence between these three works. "Werwolf" with its merciless aggression and the hysterical choirs sounds like the forgotten ninth piece of their black metallic "Reign in Blood" from 1999, while "Tiger I" presents a riff which picks up the vibrations of songs like "Wartheland". In addition, parts of "Equestrian Bloodlust" are similar to some of "Blooddawn". So what? The nine cannon crackers commute between high-speed eruptions and sinister slowness, but one thing is for sure: the material is a pure slap in the face without extraordinary effects, without frills and without experiments. Marduk deliver pure insanity and it is not only the short, Blitzkrieg-compatible playtime that builds a bridge to their most stubborn album so far.

What about the individual performances? Mortuus conveys the maximum quantum of hate, aggression and contempt. His vocals would turn the old grandmaster of hateful speeches and king of propaganda, Dr. Goebbels, green with envy. Morgan delivers the whole spectrum of black riffs, sinister leads and every now and then he intersperses triumphant lines ("Narva" and "The Devil's Song"). Devo's bass guitar is fine, but not responsible for spectacular elements, while Fredrik sometimes seems to have more arms than an octopus. I always enjoy the mega-fast sections of Marduk very much and "Viktoria" does not need to be asked very long in this context. It fails to show new sound facets and the lyrical themes are anything but original. However, this is not the crucial fact. What really counts is that Marduk still (or again) celebrate an utterly atrocious style of extreme metal which evokes much more emotions than the approach they presented on rather slow-moving albums such as "Rome 5:12" or "World Funeral". A ponderous killer like the closer "Silent Night" does not cause any damage, quite the opposite, but the pure essence of Marduk comes to light whenever they accelerate speed.

That's the reason why bullets like the excellent "Narva" make my day. Their unrelenting vehemence will not disappoint any fan of Marduk, and the same goes for the production of the album. From my point of view, the sound engineers have done a more or less flawless job. The album sounds powerful and marginally mechanic. It spreads a cold aura and the ironclad guitars are the main reason for this. This sound fits the lyrical topic. Speaking of the lyrics, Marduk supply, among other things, old Wehrmacht or Nazi slogans like "sweat saves blood" ("Schweiß spart Blut") or "fast as greyhounds, tough as leather and hard as Krupp steel". The latter described the propagated conditions for the German youth and I will never understand the cynicism of asshole Adolf who sent this promising youth on the battlefields. However, it's too late... but now it's time to listen to a great work: "Viktoria", an album like a successful Blitzkrieg without any major flaw. Germany has lost the war, but 73 years later, I feel like a winner - and I definitely don't need another drama of this kind.