Released: 2004, Regain Records
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
PLAGUE ANGEL is the 9th album by the undisputed kings of true blasphemous black metal, and I don’t imagine that they need any further introduction. Marduk has had a few lineup changes since they started out. Since the last album the bass player, B War, left, and also the lead singer Legion has said farewell. The only original member that’s still left in the band is the guitarist, Morgan. The new singer is called Mortuus, and the bass player goes under the name, Devo. Morgan has managed to keep their drummer Emil from the last album though, and those four are now the new Marduk.
They have also changed studios. The last time they recorded in the famous Abyss Studio; this time they chose Endarker Studio, which is owned by Devo. Devo is responsible for the production and mixing, and there’s nothing wrong with the production. It sounds like it always has and is nothing out of the ordinary at all. Most of the album goes in ultra fast tempo with speedy drums, fast riffing guitars, and on top of that, lies the lead vocals. In some parts the speed is so fast, that Mortuus has a hard time catching up. He varies between black metal vocals, ordinary vocals, and just screams. The mastering is done by Peter In de Betou (Dimmu Borgir, Meshuggah, Rammstein etc).
I’ve never followed this band with bigger interest, and I started off by reviewing their double live CD INFERNAL ETERNAL from 2000. After that I have reviewed their studio album, LA GRANDE DANCE MACABRE (-01), and WORLD FUNERAL (-02); I haven’t heard the older albums yet. LA GRANDE DANCE MACABRE felt quite stable, but on their last album they felt pretty tired, especially Legion, doing a very poor impression with his tired voice. But I can understand that younger and newer fans, between the ages of 15-25 like it, because they may not be aware of anything else in the black metal genre.
There are 11 tracks on this album; as always, the lyrics are about violence, death, hell, anxiety, blood, and stuff like that.
One of the bands biggest problems has been Legions lack of voice; he was not varied in any way, something that Mortuus luckily is. Also, the material has sounded very similar from one album to another; hard grinding black metal and nothing more. But on this album I’m glad to hear some calmer parts through certain songs, and they have added a song in mid-tempo called, “Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets” that goes really slow to be Marduk. “Death March” starts off with an epic and bombastic intro sounding like an old military march to begin with. It takes about two minutes before the vocals come in; the whole song consists only of marching music and Mortus’ whispering vocals.
Morgan and Marduk seem to have a major problem; like they are totally out of riffs and inspiration. This album sounds just like the last ones, just an instant repeat of the previous. Even if Mortuus has great effort, he can’t manage to take the band to a higher level by himself. Even the cover looks like an ordinary ugly Marduk cover.
This album is for all of the old fans out there, or something for you, if you want a totally predictable band with nothing out of the ordinary. I think you can strongly question it, if you still call the band Marduk when there’s only one original member left.
A video to “Throne of Rats” has been made by Roger Johansson (The Haunted, Hammerfall, In Flames), but to be honest I don’t think any TV channels are gonna pick it up. A world tour was also planned but had to be cancelled because of an attack against Emil, at a gas station somewhere in Sweden.
I can’t find any killer tracks; all of the songs are totally anonymous and don’t grow in any way, even though I’ve listened to it a lot.