Thursday, February 19, 2015

Marduk - Frontschwein

Marduk are among the black metal elites, forming in 1990 during the formative years of the second wave. Although they were from Sweden and not Norway, they still managed to fit in with the bands that were forming en masse during that time. After their 1994 masterpiece, Opus Nocturne, the quality of their albums seemed to slip as they appeared to have wanted to be more brutal and more aggressive than the rest of the pack. Their style of blasting till the cows come home would go on to be dubbed norsesore, a silly name in my opinion, but it nonetheless left a bad taste in the mouths of those who were more into the traditional black metal of the time.

They seemed to have made a rebound beginning with 2009's Rom 5:12, which saw the band actually incorporate more melody into the bedlam of blast beats. 2015 brings their latest and thirteenth release, Frontschwein. This release is a rather solid release that, for the most part, delivers some ass kicking, riff laden black metal but is somewhat inconsistent and doesn't always flow. The opener and title track is a monster of a song and everything a Marduk fan would want. It has a fast tempo and pummeling riffs. Possibly the best song on the album it has the right combination of speed, melody, and ripping aggression. "Afrika" is another rip roaring black metal number with massive riffs and lots of speed. The vocals on this album are gruff and gritty snarls, almost sounding like Grutle from Enslaved. This song rips from beginning to end with not much in the way of melody. Then you have mid paced songs like "The Blond Beast" and "Wartherland" that aren't bad songs but they interrupt the flow just a bit because they don't seem to go anywhere. They don't build to up to anything.

"Rope of Regret" is a song that is fast and aggressive but manages to put some melody into the riffing. A lot of tremolos are in this song but, once again, it doesn't build to anything. "Between The Wolf Packs" is a song that combines blasts with some mid paced parts thrown in and is actually a really interesting song. When it does slow down the riffs are cool and there's some cool hooks. Then you have the monstrous "Doomsday Elite", which is a little over eight minutes and is a really good song. It has speed and brutality but also some melody and an epic air to it that makes it really catchy. It builds to a climax instead of being directionless. However, that song does not help with the flow of this album because there are songs on this album that are really slow and while one, "Nebelwerfer," plods on and is just out and out boring, no matter how brutal the song tries to come off and the other, "503" seems to work a lot better. However, this song is over five minutes and could have a couple minutes trimmed off to make this song a bit more listenable. Not near as bad as "Nebelwerfer," it's just seems to never end. The album closer, "Thousand-Fold Death" is actually not a bad way to round out the album. The vocals get a bit silly towards the end because it sounds like he's talking real black metal voice.

So here we have a somewhat solid effort from this notorious band. I don't think it has the quality of Rom 5:12, which I think is the best thing they've done since Opus Nocturne, but does have some songs on here that are truly great modern black metal songs. I do think this band is capable of making more consistent albums and I hope that they will work on that for their next release.


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