Released: 2007, Regain Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Considering Poland’s affinity for birthing some of the most brutal death metal bands of all time (Vader, Behemoth, Decapitated, among others), it comes as no surprise that the country’s fans are equally as rabid. So when Swedish blackened death veterans Marduk chose Warsaw to record their latest collection of live Christ-raping blasphemies, the appropriately titled WARSCHAU, it was an obvious meeting of two powerful forces. WARSCHAU was originally released around the world in January 2006 but is just now getting its North American release via Regain Records. Recorded in support of Marduk’s 2004 album, PLAGUE ANGEL, this particular set was taken from as show in the Polish capital on September 17th, 2005 to commemorate the band’s fifteenth anniversary.
With new vocalist Mortuus at the helm and original guitarist Magnus “Devo” Andersson returning on bass, Marduk fans are treated to seventeen tracks that nicely cover the band’s career (only 1996’s HEAVEN SHALL BURN…WHEN WE ARE GATHERED release gets snubbed). Marduk’s trademark speed and intensity are captured perfectly with surprisingly good sound that is well mixed, too, considering this is a live recording. Emil Dragutinovic’s war drums and powerhouse blastbeats are quite impressive but the real draw, something that essentially has breathed new life into Marduk, are the vocals of Mortuus. His deep voice limits his range so he is not as versatile as Legion was but it is indisputable that he makes every song—including those of Legion, as well as Joakim Göthberg and Andreas “Dread” Axelsson—his own with his unique voice. Mortuus’ tone in his between song banter is enough to chill Ol’ Scratch to the bone, too.
Not surprisingly, the majority of PLAGUE ANGEL receives its treatment here with “Throne of Rats,” “Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets” and “Warschau” faring especially well. The slow (even more so for Marduk), doom-y feel to WORLD FUNERAL’s “Bleached Bones” silences the band’s detractors, while the hyperspeed “Panzer Division Marduk” assails everything in its path. Early material like “On Darkened Wings,” “Sulphur Souls” and the godly “Burn My Coffin” and “The Black…” prove that despite the band members hitting their mid-thirties, they can still humble the grimmest of black metal’s “kvlt” hordes with ease.
Some may argue that the sprawling two-CD INFERNAL ETERNAL is the ultimate testament to Marduk’s live show but with only five songs repeated on WARSCHAU, the two complement each other more than anything. Considering that only Marduk founder/guitarist Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson remained from the classic lineup last year, the band’s last two studio albums have written a new chapter rather than served as Marduk’s swan song. PLAGUE ANGEL and this year’s brilliant ROM 5:12 witness Marduk stronger and better than ever and WARSCHAU captures the blackened majesty of Marduk perfectly.