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Marduk - Viktoria

by Chris Hawkins at 17 June 2018, 7:45 AM

Now in their 28th year of existence, MARDUK's career rivals MAYHEM in longevity yet surpasses them in consistency for there are no gaps in their discography.  Having always been a visual band and in the past incorporating many outright shockingly blasphemous images, the band have chosen quite the enigmatic cover for "Viktoria".  It is an album cover that in its simplicity speaks volumes however different for each viewer.  Perhaps the band know that each person will ultimately see what they want to see, whether cognizant of that fact or not, be they true fans or idiotic Antifa crybabies looking for what they want to find behind every corner and under every stone.  Regardless, MARDUK are triumphant.  They have yet again released an album, this being their 14th, that blazes forward in intensity while always carving their legacy for others to emulate yet never duplicate.

"Werwolf," the track that has been released ahead of time as a single, opens the album with a hateful aesthetic aided by pure Black Metal.  The album truly begins at the one-minute mark when the plodding, mid-paced riff and steady double bass are encouraged by an air raid siren, an element that adds a color of fear to the offering.  Giving the song an eerie air, a children's choir is employed, but rest assured, this not DIMMU BORGIR as it is more of an effect sprinkled on top than redirecting the entire song's focus.  The band uses an effect on the main riff of the third track, "Equestrian Bloodlust," not often heard in the genre:  the flanger.  While most think of Eddie Van Halen's "Unchained" when it is invoked, MARDUK successfully color their tone while still remaining true.  It is yet another element added by a band that have worked hard for their solid reputation and are therefore unafraid to experiment.  The sixth track, entitled "The Last Fallen," features an intense tremolo-picked riff that commands one's attention as it cleverly summarizes the band's past while still subscribing to its forward thinking.  The title track arrives next and is perhaps the most brutal track of all.  It explodes out of the gate, but after a minute or so, slows down when the chorus gives way to an interlude led by a haunting, melodic bass line.  It is not long, though, before the band returns to its original intent as the song is ended with a trademarked sheer tenacity.

Vocally, Mortuus maintains his spot among the Black Metal elite as he is able to employ the characteristic style yet enunciates all words distinctly with professionalism and talent.  The bass stands forward in the mix with a well-rounded tone aided by a crusty overdrive.  The drums employ a mature approach to the material.  Neither the blasts nor the mid-paced, double-bass-led parts sound redundant or stale.  It's a fresh, aggressive percussionist serving as the foundation for MARDUK.  The guitar tone is best described as rich and organic.  It's compressed in such a way that the strummed guitar parts and tremolo picking are equal in volume and intensity yet none of the edge of the band's signature sound is lost.

"Viktoria" is aptly named for victory, and as the band have maintained, the only true victor in war is death.  The concept of "Frontschwein" is continued on this record and is sure to please any fan of Black Metal's signature take on war, primarily World War II.  It is an album with its own vibe.  After listening, one feels affected in the same way as walking out of the theater after an attention-demanding, intense film.  This recent offering showcases a band that sound as dangerous as twenty-plus years ago albeit more defined and refined.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Werwolf
2. June 44
3. Equestrian Bloodlust
4. Tiger I
5. Narva
6. The Last Fallen
7. Viktoria
8. The Devil's Song
9. Silent Night
Morgan – Guitars
Devo – Bass
Mortuus – Vocals
Fredrik Widigs - Drums
Record Label: Century Media Records


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Edited 11 June 2023

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