A Swedish panzer battalion with 28 years under their belt with no signs of stopping and just hitting us with their countless tours and albums like the wars and battles they take inspirations from these past few years. You know I’m talking about fucking Marduk. Formed back in 1990 with an idea to be the most blasphemous band on this earth. Although the bands mastermind Morgan Håkansson had outgrown that idea controversies surround the band from time to time and they ricochet of them like stray bullets.
So, after the critically acclaimed Frontschwein, Marduk had released another war themed album: Victoria. A similar album to the previous one, but on the other hand a quite different affair.
While Frontschwein were pushing bands musical boundaries was it with the song “Doomsday Elite” which is the longest Marduk track to date or the frenzied merciless “Thousand-Fold Death” which the only song measures its vocal and musical brutality is Darkness it shall be from the 1996s Heaven Shall Burn When We are Gathered.
That being said, Victoria feels like Frontschweins punkish, old school black metal counterpart. A polar opposite of the same WWII theme. The first track “Werwolf” is an instant sign of that. A most polarizing promotional single that maybe Marduk ever had. Luckily for some of us, the track is the most different of the album but serves as a fine opener and a herald of the next tracks to come. “June 44” picks up the pace into the familiar territory as Morgan grinds his guitar strings like it was Stalingrad all over again and Mortuus roars using his vocal delivery as a cluster bomb.
But the member who stands out the most is their newest member Fredrik Widigs. This might be the most ˙˙live˙˙ drums Marduk had in a very long time. Unlike most of the drummers that had been in the band who blasted the drums from here to eternity, Fredriks rhythm sections are feel authentic and on the title track like Victoria drums are extremely catchy; a term which is not used in Marduk so often. You really feel that is a person behind the drum set. Devo again serves as a producer and as well as a bassist. This tradition lasts now for 14 years since Plague Angel and does not feel like it’s repeating itself or played its cards to the maximum on the producer’s chair. The sound is quite thick and old school but still fresh enough.
That being said, to serve as a thematic follow up to a more complex and in my opinion superior album Frontschwein has its traps; and those are similarities.
“Tiger I” for instance is very similar to “503” including the beginning of the song. There are as well other parts what make an immediate comparison to the previous album.
Marduk had a similar problem with Serpent Sermon, their weakest record in my opinion. It feels like a weak brother of Wormwood which best parts are pretty much an imitation of the previous better album.
Luckily, Victoria is not that episode and has many good, catchy tracks up its sleeve track like “Narva”, “June 44”, “The Devils Song” or the title track. The whole B side of the album is all hits, a shame that it ends on whimper like “Silent Night”.
Despite its minor flaws and quite short runtime, Marduk offers another solid album following its tradition of keeping the thin line of being dedicated to its sound and yet keeping it fresh. Some would consider this traditional, old school album a step in the wrong or maybe right direction. But Marduk in its almost 30 years of blistering dedication marches on without a sing of fatigue.
We got a live one boys.