Review Date: July 2018
Released: June 2018, Century Media Records
Review by: Rebekah Ann
I’m fairly sure everything to be said about Marduk has at some point been said; they’ve spanned decades, released a fuck-tonne material, as well as their numerous tours and festival appearances. For me there’s a few distinct chapters within their discography that keep well within their genre boundaries, though no band can keep producing the same sound over a 25 year career, and to be honest they really shouldn’t too. Marduk are seen as one of the Swedish pioneers of the second wave of black metal, alongside Norwegians Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum or Satyricon for example and they’ve held their ‘TRVE KVLT’ title fearsomely, where perhaps others have not. Satyricon, ahem…
It can be quite difficult to remain completely objective whilst reviewing an album from such an influential band as Marduk, but I shall try. They’ve just released their 14th album, with ‘Viktoria’ venturing along with the same war/black metal sound that they’ve become known for in their recent albums. Sure, there’re differences, it’s fast as hell and more black-thrash than pure black metal (with hints of current Darkthrone and Aura Noir); the production is clearer, the guitar tone and vocals are perhaps a bit too clean for my liking, there seem to be more texture and layers with masses of tempo changes, but the overall feel and atmosphere the album creates is still one of utter frontline destruction seen in their adored predecessor ‘Frontschwein’ or ‘Panzer Division’.
The first track, ‘Werwolf’, sets the tone of the album nicely, as this is basically what you will get for the next 33 minutes. It’s fast, evil and shows some excellent drumming savagery, basically what Marduk’s name is built upon. ‘June44’ is yeah, ok. There’s some cracking diversity in vocal technique, but also a particularly cringey display, were I wondered if they were trying to gain a crowd sing-along, you’ll know exactly what I mean when you hear it…. ‘Equestrian Bloodlust’ is a bloody weird name for a track but absolutely slays with a simple melody tremolo picked line, swaying in and out of tempos. Same goes for ‘Narva’, brutal and abrasive, definitely not an easy listen and probably not something for someone dipping a toe into black metal. ‘Tiger I’ shows some nice textures and drops down to a slower, brooding tempo; I’m particularly pleased when a track has dramatic build up pauses. Skip ‘The Last Fallen’ and ‘Viktoria’ and possibly even ‘The Devil’s Song’, not because they’re awful, they’re really not, but they’re also not that good, just a little boring, not memorable and a bit predictable. The album closes out with ‘Silent Night’, which feels a bit of a misnomer, because in true Marduk fashion, it really isn’t very silent at all. It is however a beautiful slow-paced track of glorious depth and atmosphere.
Whilst ‘Viktoria’ is a good album, it is not great and it certainly isn’t ground-breaking. It feels a bit uncreative, a bit like the same ideas are being re-hashed, a bit like they need a new spark. It’s also fairly easy to see where their current issues with Anti-fa have grown from, having based a good portion of their albums on it, but hey that’s a whole different story all together.