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
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
Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén – vocals
Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson – guitar
Magnus “Devo” Andersson – bass
Fredrik Widigs – drums
Ella Thornell, Moa Asp & Tuva Ekstrand – backing vocals or “Werwolf”