Tuesday 6 January 2015

Marduk - Frontschwein (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 19/1/2015
Label: Century Media Records

‘Frontschwein’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

1). Frontschwein (03:13)
2). The Blond Beast (04:26)
3). Afrika (03:59)
4). Wartheland (04:17)
5). Rope Of Regret (03:51)
6). Between The Wolf-Packs (04:28)
7). Nebelwerfer (06:16)
8). Falaise: Cauldron Of Blood (04:58)
9). Doomsday Elite (08:11)
10). 503 (05:11)
11). Thousand-Fold Death (03:45)
12). Warschau III: Necropolis*
*bonus track on Ltd. CD Mediabook Edition

Marduk is:

Mortuus | vocals
Morgan | guitars
Devo | bass
Fredrik | drums


The Panzer Division return with militaristic fervour! Black metal abounds as blast beats roll. So, has the mighty Marduk progressed? Well, I am not by any means au fait with all their back catalogue- I would describe myself as a casual fan prior to hearing ‘Frontschwein’- but it sounds to me like business as ferocious as usual.

For those with an interest in black metal, but also those who are not experts, this is at the more traditional end of the spectrum- both in black metal and straightforward metal terms. There are recognisable riffs, the blasting is not constant (or complete with triggers to disallow dynamics), and the vocals are a croak of bile and hate. For what it is worth, this is how I like my black metal. For me, Dissection, Mayhem, Burzum et al have always been where my interest lies. Marduk fits with this well. Was it ever so? Well, actually, no! Marduk have dropped the more death elements of their sound over time and changed themes from their early blasphemous take on extremity to Third Reich history and so on. The band has been around for over 20 years! Yes, their membership has changed, their sound has altered a little, but you still expect and get Marduk.

‘Frontschwein’, ‘The Blond Beast’ and ‘Afrika’ all offer black metal- but there are changes and differences between the tracks. The title track sets the scene, ‘The Blond Beast’ is more groovy (yes, really) than you would expect and ‘Afrika’ is a veritable maelstrom of black metal aggression. There are few bands who can match this level of fury (Mayhem, Belphegor- please step forward). Marduk's reliability is their strength. You know what you are expecting and the band deliver.

‘Wartheland’ is spiky and chilling prior to the carnage- but of the mid paced variety. Again the riffs and sounds roll relentlessly onwards, much like the aforementioned tanks. ‘Rope of Regret’ is simply furious in its blasting, with classic slow moving melodies lurking in the fast picked riffing.  Between The Wolf Packs’ has a totally appropriate lope to the tempo and riffs- again with a very cold feel to things; a speciality of the Scandinavian bands. The song has blast sections, of course, but uses the tempo changes well.

‘Nebelwerfer’ is a freezing proposition of reverbed snare and funereal riffs. It is thus a welcome change of pace and assists in sculpting the album and elevating it above a simple collection of songs. ‘Falaise- Cauldron of Blood’ sounds as you would predict from the title- blasting and venomous vocals create a stirring (ha!) black metal call to arms. Worth noting at this point is that you get your money's worth- the album tracks a lengthy- not interminably so, but usually running well over four minutes. In the case of ‘Doomsday Elite’, the band venture over the eight minute mark, with the extra playing time paying off in spades with the atmosphere of dread and fear created. ‘503’ is restrained in comparison, but still runs over 5 minutes and makes use of some technology in the production. Slower tempos are here, too, making for another memorable track.

The album goes out strongly with ‘Thousand-Fold Death’. It's hyper fast and again has a kind of rolling feel- even mirrored by the vocal delivery. There are some excellent guitar passages that are almost elegant in terms of black metal. Marduk are undoubtedly back- and as if they never went away. This black metal of the highest quality and of the most palatable type to a casual fan such as myself, all elements are present and correct with the band on great form. Looking for something to compound your winter blues? Look no further.

Words by: Richard Maw

You can pick up a CD/LP copy here.

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