Heic Noenum Pax or Here’s no Peace, as Marduk once put it so well. Starting with Wormwood, they got us used to releasing albums every three years, in a feverishly chronology. So, 3 years after the surprisingly good Frontschwein, Marduk will release on the 22nd of June their 14th full length album, Viktoria (Century Media Records), a name as simple and short as its content: 9 songs under 33 minutes, an album shorter than the mighty Panzer Division Marduk, which was considered the Reign in Blood of black metal.
If I kept mentioning the number 3, I would also like to mention the 3 periods in Marduk‘s long lasting activity: the first period of the early and mid 90’s when they were trying to find their own identity, the Legion period with classics like Nightwing and Panzer Division Marduk, and the period with Mortuus on vocals, who brought the much sought consistency and clarity for this acclaimed band.
Cause after this fantastic vocalist joined Marduk, the band has immediately found its own path and started to release consistent albums, one after another, until today. Also, with Mortuus, Marduk has become one of the truest bands active in this fucked up scene, a band that doesn’t give a fuck about the leftist politically correctness and who just delivers whatever the fuck it wants.
Add to this “behaviour” the impressive shows, with no gimmicks, just the right black metal attitude and atmosphere. Cause every Marduk concert is actually a fist in the face of all the posers and trend setters of today, be it musicians or fans.
Viktoria is no filler and starts exactly where Frontschwein has ended. In a nutshell, this rocket-like album is ugly, fast and deadly.
From the very first track, Werewolf, which was also the first single the band released in April, one can almost expect what will happen on the album. The punkish vibe of the track hits you hard in the face and goes on for 2 minutes in a groovy double pedaled rhythm.
But then all hell breaks loose and the next 2 tracks, June 44 and Equestrian Bloodlust, are exactly what Marduk is about: fierce, cold riffs and sharp blast beats mix with the insane growls of Mortuus, who shots his verses like some old rusty MG 42s hidden in the bunkers above the Falaise.
The speed and the precision of the instruments are incredible, creating a black metal whirlwind of sound. To be honest I just cannot figure how (or where) Marduk found the inspiration to reinvent themselves (again) in such a brilliant way.
After the cavalcade of these three aggressive tracks, it’s now time to catch our breath and seek shelter in the cold, soaked trenches cause Tiger I shows its ugly face on the horizon. This slow, crushing song reminds of the deadly tanks which were the kings of the battlefields in the 2nd World War, from the East to the West.
“Grand horse of steel, sword of flame – the ground is shaking
Massive apparatus of death, 58 tons of hate”.
Pounding drums and hateful vocals accompany this monster of a song all through its duration of 4:12 minutes, while during the bridge and towards the end of the track, machine gun like riffs and blast beats explode to conclude its march.
The album continues with one of the best Marduk tracks I listened to recently, “Narva“, a pure sonic onslaught of hate and destruction (just like the fate of this Baltic city). The song is split in the middle by some groovy drum parts while Mortuus, with its cavernous voice, vomits “Down, see Narva go down”. Outstanding track!
The Last Fallen, the title track Viktoria with its sick chorus and intriguing bass parts and the amazing The Devil’s Song carry us through a battlefield of horrors, accompanied by relentless shelling in form of insane blast beats, precise riffing and chaotic vocals.
Even if the 4 musicians have outdone themselves on this album until now, the best is yet to come, in the form of Silent Night, the last song of this fantastic album which closes the hostilities in a slow march of death and despair. Featuring Mortuus‘s best vocals so far, the track seems like a mockery of the famous Christmas carol many people celebrate in the coziness of their homes:
we share the sacred promise of death
aligned shall we enter the last breath”
Overall, Viktoria is a very solid album and bears Marduk‘s trademark all over it. Lyrics about war, death, panzers, historical events, all seen through the lens of 4 black metal musicians. Musicians who have evolved to the point of perfection, transforming a band once on the verge of mediocrity into a real monster, which, after almost 30 years of activity, has become probably one of the best black metal of this planet.
I specifically want to praise here the drummer, Fredrik Widigs, who reached a level of total insanity on this album. Marduk has always had great drummers, but the work this guy did on Frontschwein and more recent on Viktoria shows that what were are dealing with here is much more than talent, is almost “insanity”.
The only thing which I really do not dig and not understand is the cover, which I think is one the most “unsuccessful” covers Marduk ever used (and they used some, especially in the mid 90’s). I am pretty sure that a better cover would have suited this album better, but after all, as I already said it above, Marduk do what they want and I have to respect that.
If you will have the chance to see them live this summer in support of this great album, do not miss them or you’ll be sorry. This band really has the best line-up ever.
Marduk – Viktoria track list:
2. June 44
3. Equestrian Bloodlust
4. Tiger I
6. The Last Fallen
8. The Devil’s Song
9. Silent Night
Mortuus – Vocals
Morgan Hakanson – Guitars
Magnus “Devo” Andersson – Bass
Fredrik Widigs – Drums