Album Review – Marduk / Viktoria (2018)

A furious and aggressive fusion of Marduk’s classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound, proving once again why they’re one of the biggest names in the history of extreme music.

Following a similar (and obviously amazing) pattern from their previous albums, focusing on historical World War II lyrical themes like what they did in the demolishing Frontschwein, released in 2015, Swedish Black Metal regiment Marduk returns to the battlefield with another skull-crushing release, entitled Viktoria, the fourteenth studio album in the undisputed career of those Babylonian gods of extreme music. From the devastating sonic assault blasted by the band on the opening track “Werwolf” to the very last second in the closing tune “Silent Night”, Marduk deliver a furious and aggressive fusion of their classic Black Metal with their more contemporary warlike sound, proving once again why they’re one of the biggest names in the history of extreme music.

And the horde comprised of Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén on vocals, Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson on the guitar, Magnus “Devo” Andersson on bass and Fredrik Widigs on drums is not afraid at all of the controversy and negative reaction that the society and the media might have regarding their music and lyrics. “Overall, I would say we have a fascination with the whole war machine,” comments Morgan. “At least from my point of view, the Germans had the most fascinating machinery and equipment. Viktoria is not a standpoint, however. It’s just a reflection of history, the way it happened. With that in mind, it’s more interesting to write a soundtrack tied to specific historical events. Look at movies, for example. They’ve tackled both sides of World War II. So, Viktoria is more about history. Nothing more. Nothing less,” the axeman clarifies.

Werwolf (German for “werewolf”), which was a Nazi plan that began development in 1944 to create a resistance force which would operate behind enemy lines as the Allies advanced through Germany, was the inspiration for the opening track in Viktoria, with the wailing sirens warning about the Black Metal attack that’s about to begin and with Mortuus sounding insane and enraged on vocals while Evil delivers his usual scorching riffs in two intense minutes of extreme music. Following that demonic start we have June 44 (the best known D-Day is during World War II, on June 6, 1944, the day of the Normandy landings, initiating the Western Allied effort to liberate mainland Europe from Nazi Germany), closer to their more classic sonority with Fredrik crushing his drums in a perfect depiction of how warlike Black Metal should always sound, with the rumbling bass by Devo adding more ferocity to the overall result and the lyrics vociferated by Mortuus matching the music flawlessly (“Stubborn Jabos rip the sky / on wings of inferno into chaos / Burnt offering – killing ground / drowning in blood over and over again / See naval fire rain down / living and dead unite in a stream of anguish / A dance in the sands / of Juno and Sword / a waltz in the flames / of June 44”). And their devastation goes on in Equestrian Bloodlust, a straightforward Black Metal blasted by the quartet where Mortuus sounds even more demented than in their previous albums, while Evil and Devo are in absolute sync with their strings, generating those reverberating, evil tones we all love so much.

Tiger I, a German heavy tank of World War II deployed from 1942 in Africa and Europe which final designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E, gave the Wehrmacht its first armoured fighting vehicle that mounted the 8.8 cm KwK 36 gun. Musically speaking, it feels like a natural “sequel” to Frontschwein’s “503”, also bringing elements of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom; however, it’s not as imposing and a bit generic, despite its austere words (“Teutonic knights of old march once again / Grand horse of steel, sword of flame – the ground is shaking / Massive apparatus of death, 58 tons of hate / unforgivingly rolling in to seal your fate”). Narva, the third largest city in Estonia, suffered devastating bombing raids on March 6 and 7, 1944 by the Soviet Air Force, destrying the baroque old town. By the end of July, 98% of Narva had been destroyed, and the music blasted by Marduk flawlessly depicts the utter devastation that happened in the city, with Fredrik once again sounding bestial on drums while Mortuus growls and gnarls manically (not to mention the song’s uprising ending). In other words, this will certainly inspire fans to slam like beasts into the circle pit during their live concerts. After such awesome tune, the slashing riffs by Evil ignite the heavy and headbanging The Last Fallen, exploding into berserk Black Metal led by Fredrik and his machine gun-like beats and fills, being effectively accompanied by the thunderous bass by Devo.

The title-track Viktoria is that trademark in-your-face Black Metal by Marduk, sounding as frantic and furious as it can be, with Mortuus spearheading the horde with his sick growling. In addition, there’s even space for some welcome progressiveness added to the sound, not to mention how infernal Fredrik sounds behind his drums. Then we have The Devil’s Song, or “SS marschiert in Feindesland” (“SS march in enemy territory”), also known as “Teufelslied” (“The Devil’s song” in German), a marching song of the Waffen-SS (the armed wing of the Nazi Party’s SS organization) during World War II, and Marduk’s “tribute” to that song is simply devastating, with the initial riffs by the bulldozer Evil piercing your brain mercilessly before all hell breaks loose. Last but not least, closing the album we have another somber, sluggish tune inspired by the most demonic form of Doom Metal, named Silent Night, representing the aftermath, the sadness and pain post-war, with a perturbing performance by Mortuus on vocals. and while listening to this crushing chant don’t forget to break your neck and spinal cord with some full-bodied headbanging.

In summary, if you love old school Black Metal and also nurture a deep interested in all things World War I and II, Viktoria is a must-have album in your “collection of evil”. The Swedish quartet takes no prisoners in their battle for extreme music, and their streak of amazing albums just keeps growing with Viktoria, which by the way is on sale at several locations as you can see HERE. Moreover, as Marduk are extremely active in the scene, always touring all over the world, keep an eye on their official Facebook page to be promptly informed of when they’re about to unleash a brutal Black Metal war in your city. Then, after the concert is over, if you’re one of the survivors you can celebrate “Viktoria” together with one of the most important and decimating Black Metal hordes of all time.

Best moments of the album: June 44, Narva, Viktoria and The Devil’s Song.

Worst moments of the album: Tiger I.

Released in 2018 Century Media

Track listing
1. Werwolf 2:02
2. June 44 3:49
3. Equestrian Bloodlust 2:51
4. Tiger I 4:12
5. Narva 4:31
6. The Last Fallen 4:25
7. Viktoria 3:26
8. The Devil’s Song 3:46
9. Silent Night 4:12

Band members
Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén – vocals
Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson – guitar
Magnus “Devo” Andersson – bass
Fredrik Widigs – drums

Guest musicians
Ella Thornell, Moa Asp & Tuva Ekstrand – backing vocals or “Werwolf”

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The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015

“Good day
My name is Necropolis
I am formed of the dead
I am the harvester of the soul meat
And I suck the lives from around my bed
My own two sons I gave them breath
And I filled their living corpses with my bile
What humanity I knew I have long forgotten
For me eternity is nothing
But a short while…” 

– If Eternity Should Fail, by Iron Maiden

Eternity might be nothing but a short while for the harvester of the soul meat, but for us mere mortals it looked like 2015 was never going to reach its end. Well, the year is finally phasing out and 2016 is already knocking on our doors, promising to be a much better (and less tragic) time for mankind. With that said, once again as a tribute to all bands and musicians who kept our hearts warm in the throes of a world crisis, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015, excluding of course all EP’s, best of’s and live albums. Profitez-en bien!

Iron Maiden_The Book of Souls1. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls (REVIEW)
As you read through the pages of The Book Of Souls you’ll inevitably realize that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all, no matter how far.
Best song of the album: The Red and the Black

moonspell_extinct2. Moonspell – Extinct (REVIEW)
While this distinguished Portuguese Dark Metal band is among us, we can rest assured good and meaningful music is far from being extinct.
Best song of the album: Extinct

Stratovarius_Eternal3. Stratovarius – Eternal (REVIEW)
The Finnish masters of Power Metal are back with a beautiful album made to be eternal.
Best song of the album: My Eternal Dream

battle beast_unholy savior4. Battle Beast – Unholy Savior (REVIEW)
Battle Beast want the world and everything in it, and they’re definitely on their way to conquer it all with their brilliant brand new album.
Best song of the album: I Want The World… And Everything In It

My God-Given Right5. Helloween – My God-Given Right (REVIEW)
It’s our God-given right to keep banging our heads to the music by the happiest and most awesome Power Metal band in the world.
Best song of the album: Creatures in Heaven

scorpions_return to forever6. Scorpions – Return to Forever (REVIEW)
This rock may be rolling home after so many years of good service, but it still has A LOT to teach the world on how to make true Hard Rock.
Best song of the album: Rock ‘N’ Roll Band

cover7. Marduk – Frontschwein (REVIEW)
The Babylonian gods of Black Metal return with more of their blasphemous and apocalyptic war-themed music.
Best song of the album: Thousand-Fold Death

CoF_Hammer of the Witches8. Cradle of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches (REVIEW)
The metallic coven instituted by one of the most important Extreme Metal bands of all time keeps haunting our world with their music.
Best song of the album: Onward Christian Soldiers

Survivalist Album Cover9. 4ARM – Survivalist (REVIEW)
A phenomenal heavy music album full of groove, fury and energy by an extremely talented Thrash Metal band from Down Under.
Best song of the album: Poisoned Mind

Slayer_Repentless10. Slayer – Repentless (REVIEW)
Live fast, on high, repentless, and keep listening to Slayer until the day you die.
Best song of the album: Repentless

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld II (REVIEW)
12. Monolith – Against The Wall Of Forever (REVIEW)
13. The Agonist – Eye of Providence (REVIEW)
14. Acrassicauda – Gilgamesh (REVIEW)
15. Vingulmork – Chiaroscuro (REVIEW)
16. Vorna – Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (REVIEW)
17. Dys Inbunden – One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy (REVIEW)
18. Deadly Circus Fire – The Hydra’s Tailor (REVIEW)
19. Tsar Bomb – Exterminans IX:XI (REVIEW)
20. Profane And The Sacred – Chapter 1 : A Long Time Coming (REVIEW)

As this year we had tons of amazing EP’s being released by extremely talented bands from all over the world, why not providing you our Top 10 EP’s of 2015, right? (To be fair, although shorter in duration, some of them are significantly better and more complex than several full-length albums that became available throughout the year.)

1. Goatchrist – The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil (REVIEW)
2. Dö – Den (REVIEW)
3. Chip DiMonick – Uncaged (REVIEW)
4. Omega Diatribe – Abstract Ritual (REVIEW)
5. The Passion Of Our Souls – Soulmates (REVIEW)
6. Velaverante – My Dark Images (REVIEW)
7. Novallo – Novallo II (REVIEW)
8. Meridius – Meridius (REVIEW)
9. Judas Avenger – Judas Avenger (REVIEW)
10. Pergana – The Visit (REVIEW)

One thing that 2015 taught us all is that Heavy Fuckin’ Metal is still alive and on fire, and based on the music by countless independent bands reviewed here (that for different reasons did not make it to our top 10/20), it will keep shining brighter than ever for many years to come. Take a listen at the music by Rifftera and Amanita Virosa (Finland); Reanimator and Fractal Generator (Canada); Sarpentra and The Prophet (Russia); Dzhatinga and Irreversible Mechanism (Belarus); Helligators and Lykaion (Italy); Warmask and Hateful Warfare (Brazil); Morkesagn and Gasoline Guns (Ukraine); Void Creation (Austria); Nachtlieder (Sweden); Fjorsvartnir (Denmark); Broken Rain (Slovakia); Lanthanein (Argentina), among many others, and there you have the future of heavy music. And, obviously, don’t forget to listen to the METAL MOOSE RADIO SHOW every week, and to always HAIL SANTA!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2016!

And now, last but not least, a Christmas message from Eddie and the boys…

Album Review – Marduk / Frontschwein (2015)

The Babylonian gods of Black Metal return with more of their blasphemous and apocalyptic war-themed music.

Rating3

coverWhen 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.

bandFortunately, 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.

mediabook

Frontschwein Mediabook Limited Edition

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

Track listing
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

Band members
Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén – vocals
Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson – guitar
Magnus “Devo” Andersson – bass
Fredrik Widigs – drums