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Very boring. - 53%

Noktorn, March 24th, 2009

It's in a lot of ways hypocritical to greatly enjoy an album like 'Panzer Division Marduk' but find this mostly boring; stylistically they're nearly identical and as a whole this is probably a more professional and well-rounded product. I think the essential difference is that when 'Panzer Division Marduk' was released, the ultra-focused extreme blasting style of black metal was something novel and a little dangerous, but at the time of this album's release, 2003, the norsecore style was very close to usurping 'traditional' black metal itself as the main representation of the genre, so really at this point Marduk was missing the essential historical elements which made earlier works in this style more compelling. Add to this a natural wearing out of ideas after several years and you have an album that's really just all the leavings of superior albums in this style wrapped up in a bow of needlessly overwrought production and bland, repetitive playing. It doesn't particularly offend me but I see no real reason to have this release either.

A bit about the production: it's in that modern black metal style that a lot of first-tier bands use where they think taking pop production and piling distortion on makes it seem truer than it actually is. It sounds brackish and annoyingly compressed, like playing as loudly as possible makes the music come off as more aggressive than it really is. Admittedly, it fits the music: loud, fast, and annoyingly one-dimensional, managing to come off as tame and boring despite being completely saturated with blast beats and tremolo riffs. The vast majority of these songs are very static in nature, with a lot of recycled riffs from the 'Panzer Division Marduk' handbook of sawing tremolo, but due to excessive repetition and a complete reliance on very conventional and stock melodies doesn't carry any of that album's weight. Legion's vocals are almost hilariously played out and dry and add nothing to the already thin and mostly lifeless compositions.

But it wouldn't be a modern Marduk album without a ham-fisted attempt at being epic in the form of a couple slower tracks. I'm completely convinced that Marduk only includes these to make their albums seem more varied than they actually are, because they sound exactly like every other major black metal band's attempts at slow and epic tracks: out of place and poorly thought out. The intrinsic problem with major bands attempting to make these sorts of songs is that they think by stripping out excess notes, putting in larger power chords, and slowing down the fast black metal songs, they can make something that sounds epic and dogmatic, when in actuality crafting interesting songs in this style requires a very different songwriting process. The slow tracks on this album are exactly like the fast ones, but stripped down completely and unable to keep listener interest; at least the actual fast songs sound logically composed.

I don't really despise this album as much as I seem to indicate that I do, because it's not really BAD, just lazy and uncreative. It's the sound of a band that's become completely complacent in its established style, with nothing to motivate it to move towards greater heights. Marduk are never going to lose their fanbase and as long as they keep doing the same thing, so this review won't really convince anyone to not acquire this album, but I really wonder what happened to the epic and memorable band of yesteryear.