There was a time when I never thought I'd write the above line about Marduk. "In the beginning" these Swedes seemed to be constantly upstaged by the Norwegian Black Metal masters in nearly every respect. Whilst most of those giants are no more (Emperor), have changed genre (Burzum) or faded into a shadow of themselves (Mayhem), Marduk have gone from strength to strength. Like many people, I started taking notice at the relentless blast of Satanic warmongering that was "Panzer Division Marduk". I then fell in love with the underrated "World Funeral" and the sick & twisted but catchy "Bleached White Bones" (crying out to be released as a single, but never was). Then something seismic happened. In 2004 Legion was replaced by Daniel "Mortuus" Rostén on vocals. Mortuus is undisputedly once of the best BM vocalists of all time, with an amazing vocal range. This was used to deliver some very intelligent lyrics and concepts. At the same time, Marduk started to vary their tempo. Whilst some songs or passages remained at breakneck speed, others were slow and extremely menacing. With all this variety came some killer tunes. Thus we got the excellent "Plague Angel" and "Rom 5:13" (look it up in the Bible!) Although "Wormwood" saw a slight drop in quality, "Serpent Sermon" sees Marduk at the very top of their game. There is even a music video for the track "Souls for Belial". All the best aspects of new Marduk are used to frightening effect on this opus. Vocally, we get well enunciated screams and groans of higher and lower pitch and speech like passages. These are accompanied by some songs played as fast as Marduk (or anyone) can, and others which are slow, sinister and deliciously evil.
Finally, Marduk have become habituated to producing excellent artwork and well made special edition releases. This current limited edition release features a bonus track that is in keeping with the tone of the rest of the album. It is packaged in a thick and glossy hardback book style digipack, with a 40-page booklet including band photos and all the lyrics.
If I had to sum this album up in three words, it would be "Black Metal perfection".
It has taken me a rather long while to review this album as my opinion originally fluctuated from its good to its ok... I beleive the reason for this was that I always had Rom 5:12 in the back of my mind and that album, as I am sure you are very aware - is a Black Metal masterpeice.
But once I started listening to this on its own merit it became apparent that it is a very strong album, and after a few spins recently I felt the album was a lot stronger than I was giving it credit for. This album has moments of brillaince and overall is a lot more experimental than Rom 5:12 whilst not sounding off pace like some tracks on Wormwood.
With Mortuus on vocals it is always going to be a great listen (he is prehaps my favourite modern Black metal vocalist especially on Rom 5:12) with the guitars/bass also putting in a great performance the drums tie this together really well and it shows a progression in Marduk's music style.
So overall it took me some time, but i have grown to love this release on its own merit. - buy if you Love black metal!
Marduk are probably my favourite "black metal" band. What, I think, separates them from others is their intensity and commitment. In new vocalist Mortuus they must have the very best "singer" of the genre. His bilious frothing offerings are something to hear. In Morgan [ the guitarist ] Marduk seem to have a very fine player - who plays well within the structures of the "songs". In particular, "Temple of Decay" sports a great descending riff which gives the opportunity for more of Mortuus' venomous bile. Probably Marduk's best album to date and recommended by this elderly scribe to those who might read this.