MARDUK, the name is forever written in the book of Extreme Metal and with blood that is. MARDUK was founded by Morgan Håkansson, who in 1990 found the time right for starting a Metal band of the most extreme and blasphemous kind. He had to wait a year before he could start rehearsing, as it took some time to find the right members. In a way MARDUK reminds a bit about DEATH, not musically speaking, but in terms of member changes. As I see it MARDUK will and always have been, the demonic child of Morgan Håkansson. If you take a visit to their homepage and check out the line up’s section, you will notice that there have been quite some people playing in MARDUK. Through all the different line up’s Morgan has kept his focus and delivered quality Black Metal for over a decade, clearly showing that he alone is the essence of MARDUK. The first release from MARDUK was the now infamous “Fuck Me Jesus”, it was released as demo, but it clearly showed a band not too afraid to take the blasphemy as long as it can be taken. Their first official release saw the dark of night in 1992, “Dark Endless” is the name of their debut. This saw MARDUK entering a productive period. In three years, from 1992 to 1994 they released an album a year. I have to admit that I haven’t been listening a lot to the older records of MARDUK, but from what I’ve read it ought to be good.
“Nightwing” was my first experience with the blasphemous sounds of MARDUK. Although this band are considered to be a satanic band, they use historical persons, rather than the horned one himself, for inspiration. The second part of the album concentrates on the deeds of darkness committed by Vlad The Impaler. A person like Vlad The Impaler, or Dracula as he is called in Hollywood, are ten times more fascinating than Satan. It can’t be wrong learning something while listening to a Black Metal album. Although I label MARDUK as a Black Metal band, it’s important to remember that it’s not Black Metal with keyboards and lengthy songs. References should be bands like DARK FUNERAL and THE LEGION, all of these bands share the intensity and trademark style of guitar playing. It’s how the Swedes decided to play their Black Metal and MARDUK helped shape that style.
After a rather unsettling intro called “Preludium”, “Bloodtide (XXX)” kicks in. I write kick with a capital k, because if you turn up the volume on this one, assuming you have a good stereo, it sure feels as a kick in the stomach. I’ve heard that Legion’s vocals aren’t that good in a live setting, but I can assure you that he sounds very good in the studio. Especially on “Of Hell’s Fire’s” chorus, where he repeats the words hell fires fire quite a few times. His vocals have a very good, raspy edge, that suits this album like a glow. It’s quite impressive to sing/scream along to music at this kind of speed. Although “Panzer Division Marduk” is considered and rightly so, to be MARDUK’s most intense offering, “Nightwing” is not far behind. For the most parts this is record is played on full speed, I would say 80% of the time. As MARDUK are masters of their art, this don’t mean that the album sounds either stale or boring. “Nightwing” may not be the most intense MARDUK album, but in these ears it’s the best. The occasional break down to more calm tempos really helps the album. I have to admit that I have problems listening to “Panzer Division Marduk” in one take, the same can not be said about “Nightwing”.
“Dreams Of Blood And Glory” and “Dracole Wayda” shows that MARDUK can create very good songs even when they are not operating at light-speed. Either MARDUK plays it slow or fast, the production, handled by the well known Peter Tägtgren at his Abyss studio, makes sure it sound good at any speed. If you are afraid that it sounds like all the other bands coming out from Abyss, you are as wrong as you can get. Even though the guitars have that Abyss buzz, the music itself is as MARDUK as it gets. A band with an identity of their own can safely enter the studio run by Peter Tägtgren. Just listen to ENSLAVED’s “Mardraum” if you want some further evidence.
MARDUK is still a band worth mentioning, but for me their best album is “Nightwing”, it could be your favourite as well, be sure to check it out. (Online April 21, 2005)