The last ten years have been truly successful for the Swedish Black Metallers Marduk. Since Daniel “Mortuus” Rosten joined its ranks, the legendary band has released some of its most awe-inspiring/critically-acclaimed material through colossal albums like “Plague Angel” (2004) and “Wormwood” (2009).
While most bands would have yielded under the pressure of constantly trying to better themselves, Marduk instead did what comes natural to them: they combined their natural ferocity with a unique-sounding, recently-acquired sense of mood and atmosphere in another jaw-dropping release entitled “Frontschwein”.
It wasn’t so long ago that Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson and Co were touring the world performing their classic opus “Panzer Division Marduk” (1999) in its entirety and, literally moments into listening to “Frontschwein”, one cannot fail to realise how influential and beneficial this experience has been in shaping the eleven (twelve if you count the bonus track “Warschaw III: Necropolis” featured on the ltd edition) compositions on offer here.
Contrary to its predecessors, “Frontschwein” contains a more significant number of ferocious, classic-sounding Black Metal material, something which will keep the band’s old-school fans happy.
Clearly confident in his role and willing to push the boundaries even further with his individual performances, Mortuus has provided the album with a healthy amount of haunting vocal harmonies similar to those which made their last four studio albums so special – a decision that has truly benefited “Frontschwein”, as you are bound to discover.
Aggressive in tempo but featuring one of the most impressive melodies this album has to offer, the same-titled opening tune “Frontschwein” proves without a shadow of a doubt that Marduk means serious business on this their thirteenth album, while some sense of normality is introduced by the simply-crafted mid-tempo tune “The Blond Beast”.
“Afrika” is another fast-paced, riff-laden belter that’s bound to form a few moshpits around the globe while in the four and a half minute “Wartheland”, fans of latter-day Marduk can enjoy chilling harmonies and some of the most commanding vocal themes Mortuus has recorded for this great band to date.
“Rope Of Regret” and “Between The Wolf-Packs” are decent tunes that will neither impress nor disappoint while, close to the spirit of Bathory, the six minute beast “Nebelwerfer” shows that a composition doesn’t need to be fast in order to be considered heavy!
Both “Falaise: Cauldron Of Blood” and “Doomsday Elite” are thematically varied compositions capable of utilising both the band’s fast and atmospheric elements in a balanced fashion, while “503” is a mid-tempo groove-laden beast whose infectious melodies are amongst the best that this album has to offer.
It is at this very moment that “Frontschwein” pulls the last card from its sleeve in the shape of “Thousand-Fold Death” – one of the fastest and most aggressive-sounding compositions that this band has ever recorded, while those of you who opt for the limited edition version will enjoy in “Warschau III: Necropolis” another impressive piece of atmospheric musical brilliance.
hree years after the majestic “Serpent Sermon” first saw the light of day, Marduk are back with an album that, though marginally less coherent stylistically than its predecessor, contains enough passion and character to make a real impact.
Morgan Håkansson’s outfit is currently riding on the crest of a wave – catch them if you can!