I have rather vague memories of “Those Of The Unlight”, having only had it on a pretty banged up cassette tape from way back when. However due to Regain Records re-releasing it I can now finally listen to it without having to use a player that’s pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur. Anyway, I recently reviewed the re-release of “Opus Nocturne” as well as the new one (“Rom 5:12”... fucking killer!) so my promo pile has been thoroughly MARDUKified, and here we go with their sophomore full-length…
Whereas their debut (“Dark Endless”) had definite Death metal undertones, “Those Of The Unlight” is much more of a fully formed early 90s Swedish Black Metal release. The riffs and melodies are harsher, brimming with that trademark cold vibe and relentless blasting. It’s nowhere near the aural assault of “Panzer…” or even “Heaven Shall Burn…” but you can still instantly hear that this is the MARDUK that many have come to either love or loathe. I fall somewhere in the middle. The music is fairly enjoyable – whether it’s the riff build-up of “Darkness Breeds Immortality”, the amazing midsection of “On Darkened Wings” or the doomish closer. The live favorite “Burn My Coffin” even has a slight Rock section/structure! They mix up fast and slower tempos quite well and it certainly helps accentuate some of the underlying melodies here (see tracks 1 and 4). The highlight has to be “Wolves” with its surprisingly melodic opening riffs and plain weird soloing near the end. It’s anthemic but in a very dark, foreboding way that should put a grin on any BM fiend’s corpsepainted mug.
The main problem is that even though these songs are good enough in their own right they never really reach a plane of all-out greatness. It sounds a bit pedestrian in places and even a bit half-baked in others (the title track). This same problem afflicted the aforementioned “Opus Nocturne” to a certain degree. The songs creep up and ascend to a certain point but instead of truly wowing the listener they all just peter out towards the end.
It shows promise (remember, this is only their second effort) but it was not until “Heaven Shall Burn…” that they realized their full potential. If you like the early works of fellow countrymen MÖRK GRYNING then this will be right up your alley, I’d say. It’s OK for an occasional listen but this will never qualify as an essential MARDUK release.
Killer kuts: “Wolves”, “On Darkened Wings”
PS – this re-issue also features some bonus live videos for y’all to clamor over…
(Online June 6, 2007)