Behold one of the greatest Black Metal bands to grace this realm. If MARDUK don’t ring any bells, you must have spent your meaningless existence living in a cave. Formed in 1990, this Swedish band are still creating traditional sounding Black Metal records and, nearing the release of “Rom:12”, Regain Records has re-released their earlier catalogue with remastered audio and some bonus tracks from early demos. Whilst the demos might be lacklustre in direct comparison to the main feature, they can only add to one of the finest Black Metal albums.
Cold is the generally perceived sensation associated with MARDUK’s music. For the uninitiated, their full frontal attack of buzzing guitars, drumwork and screeching may be a shock to the system. However, it is the ability to create such icy landscapes that make them the crème de la crème. After the compulsory mundane intro track, “Beyond The Grace Of God” surges through your speakers and explodes, cascading through the air and into your ears, followed by a strange wintry sensation. This is one of the best songs MARDUK have ever recorded and with the improved audio make this one of the classic Black Metal tracks that all bands should set as their benchmark.
The bonus tracks on this re-release are demo recordings of some of the songs featured on “Heaven Shall Burn…” and have been left untouched by the staff at The Endarker Studio. Therefore, the buzz production reigns but it never even comes close to the production on ULVER’s “Natttens Madrigal” which was just shy of abominable. From hearing the raw power of MARDUK and comparing it to the material on the release, it becomes clear that they have not lost any of their ability over the years.
The majority of people will always treasure this exemplar of Black Metal. MARDUK have really shown the world that they are worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Norwegian icons DARKTHRONE, EMPEROR, and IMMORTAL. None of the tracks at any stage seem repetitive due to the rare, but well positioned time signature changes, breaks and acoustic passages. “Heaven Shall Burn…” is one of their best releases and with the improved audio and bonus material, now is the perfect time to add this classic to your collection.
(Online June 26, 2007)