The Babylonian gods of Black Metal return with more of their blasphemous and apocalyptic war-themed music.
When Swedish Black Metallers Marduk added interesting topics such as Third Reich history and World War II to their lyrical/conceptual themes, starting with their 1999 album Panzer Division Marduk, I guess many of their diehard fans weren’t really sure what was going to happen to those guys that once stated they wanted to become the most blasphemous band in the world. If you look at their very first demo, the controversial Fuck Me Jesus, which was banned in several countries following its release due to its explicit cover art, and look at their brand new album, Frontschwein, it’s noticeable they’re not as blasphemous as before. But who said that change wasn’t for good?
Following their excellent 2012 release Serpent Sermon, Frontschwein (their thirteenth studio album) is not only a lesson in Black Metal, but also in Military and World War History, and let’s face it: no other music genre can represent the agonies and destruction caused by any war better than Death/Black Metal. Frontschwein is a war-themed concept album with every single song talking about a specific fact related to war, all of course impregnated by Marduk’s obscure musicality. If you love reading and studying about war, and if you’re a metalhead whose blood boils to the sound of nonstop blast beats and harsh growls, this album is perfect for you.
Despite its melodic intro, the opening track Frontschwein (which by the way means “frontline soldier”) quickly turns into badass Black Metal, with the unstoppable drumming by Fredrik Widigs and the truly devilish vocals by Mortuus (especially during the chorus) making sure any candy-asses stay away from this album. On the other hand, I have no idea what the band wanted to do with The Blond Beast: what the hell are those horrible “pop music” drums? I mean, the riffs and vocals are quite decent, but those lame commercial beats ruin the entire song.
Fortunately, that’s the only mistake the band made in Frontschwein. In the bloodcurdling Afrika, Marduk offer us an extremely dense music carnage, with Morgan and Widigs redefining the word “wicked” with their sick guitar lines and bestial drumming respectively. The slower but completely demonic tune Wartheland, which talks about a Nazi German administrative subdivision formed from Polish territory annexed in 1939, focuses on the desperate screams by Mortuus boosted by a maleficent atmosphere. Following that lesson in vileness, in Rope of Regret the band returns with their “heavy artillery”, and in spite of all the sonic insanity their music is far from being a mess, as you can perfectly listen to and enjoy each instrument throughout the entire song.
Between the Wolf-Packs couldn’t sound more traditional, displaying all those unique elements that fans enjoy in Black Metal, whereas Nebelwerfer (or “Smoke Mortar”, a World War II German series of weapons) emanates darkness, with an incredible Doom Metal ambience mainly due to its slow-paced grim rhythm. And Falaise: Cauldron of Blood gets back to straightforward Black Metal, with highlights to the interesting addition of some slower breaks amidst the furious blast beats, and to Mortuus sounding even more amazing with his 100% barbaric guttural vocals.
The longest track of all, Doomsday Elite, is another “anthem of despair” without a single second of peace, with all band members giving their best and adding a lot of power to the song, while the excellent 503, which I believe talks about German Tiger Tank Battalion 503 in World War II, sounds actually like a tank: it’s slow, extremely heavy and very imposing, with its Doom Metal elements and gruesome bass lines by Devo turning it into an outstanding moment of the album. And finally, the last regular track in Frontschwein, Thousand-Fold Death, makes sure no one survives the band’s brutal assault. It’s a nonstop tune that will put a huge smile on our faces and an even more gigantic pain in our necks, with kudos to Morgan for his awesome guitar riffs.
The mediabook limited edition of Frontschwein comes with a very generic bonus entitled Warschau III: Necropolis (a variation for the city of Warsaw, Poland), an instrumental track with some obscure growls, but nothing that adds any value to that version of the album. Anyway, it doesn’t matter if you’re a huge fan of Black Metal or not, the new album by Marduk is worth a listen. If you don’t know the band that well, you’ll be surprised by how entertaining their apocalyptic dark music can be, and if you’re a longtime fan of the band, I guess I don’t need to say this is a mandatory addition to your evil collection.
Best moments of the album: Frontschwein, Afrika, 503 and Thousand-Fold Death.
Worst moments of the album: The Blond Beast.
Released in 2015 Century Media Records
1. Frontschwein 3:12
2. The Blond Beast 4:26
3. Afrika 4:00
4. Wartheland 4:17
5. Rope of Regret 3:52
6. Between the Wolf-Packs 4:28
7. Nebelwerfer 6:17
8. Falaise: Cauldron of Blood 4:58
9. Doomsday Elite 8:11
10. 503 5:12
11. Thousand-Fold Death 3:46
Mediabook Limited Edition Bonus Track
12.Warschau III: Necropolis 2:59
Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén – vocals
Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson – guitar
Magnus “Devo” Andersson – bass
Fredrik Widigs – drums