Memento Mori

Marduk are a steadfast part of the Black Metal scene. From the beginnings with their more death metal debut, Dark Endless to their Dracul trilogy and fast forwarding to their ultra-military Germania and the mighty as cannot be fucked with, the Black Metal equivalent of Slayer’s Reign in Blood; you know what the fuck I’m talking about… Panzer Division Marduk.

Their battering ram attack has pretty much remained the same over the years, but it’s a formula that has worked for them and they don’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. Their sound shifted a bit around the time of La Grande Danse Macabre and it wasn’t until World Funeral that they found their footing again. “With Satan and Victorious Weapons” was all I listened to for weeks when that album came out. Wormwood was dominated by tracks such as “A Chorus of Cracking Necks” bringing back the funeral dirge of the 90s albums and a bit of a welcome change. I’ve skipped a few albums but ultimately this is a band that has stood strong in the Black Metal realm for over 30 years.

“Those of the Unlight” on Blackend: The Black Metal Compilation Volume 1 (Death Records, 1995) was my first initiation into their music, that compilation contained some of the most extreme music I had ever heard and went on to define my musical tastes. Forever.

So, it’s been a couple of years since 2018’s blasterpiece, Viktoria, an album that bristled with Satanic ordnance through tracks like, “Werwolf” and the blazing “The Last Fallen”. The years in between were full of live album releases and some singles (that are probably impossible to find in physical copies). 2023 is finally seeing a new Marduk Album in the form of Memento Mori, and guess who got their mitts on it? Yes, yes, yes… So how is it? Excellent.

The first and title track comes in on a gradual rise, it perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album; bouncing through riffs that come slightly reminiscent of World Funeral and the aforementioned “With Satan and Victorious Weapons” and it segues flawlessly into “Heart of the Funeral” which is followed by first single “Blood of the Funeral” which blasts its way through the boundaries of Hell, prior to colliding with “Shovel Beats Scepter”.

“Charlatan” is a fucking furious track, and it seems like Mortuus has done something to make his vocals more understandable because it’s easier to understand the lyrics. They slow down on the pummeling “Marching Bones” and closing track “As We Are”. There are points in this album where they shift seamlessly from savage blast beats to roaring Thrash territory, this shows up on “Red Tree of Blood” and “Year of the Maggot”.

One thing I did notice about Memento Mori is that there are no WW2 references. While Viktoria was a very WW2-oriented record, Memento Mori has none of those moments, and it’s a nice change because even though I’m a huge military history buff, you can only sing about the Third Reich before you run out of atrocities. Production is booming and precise; this is normal for new Marduk albums and allows the contained brutality to flourish.

Marduk sounds like one band: Marduk. There are bands that want to sound like them: Infernal War, I’m looking at you… but Marduk is on deadly footing with this one; so If you love Marduk… Get it, got it, good.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jeremy Beck
August 28th, 2023


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