Sometimes as a reviewer, you get a bit burnt out. It often becomes tiring trying to find new and creative ways to describe the vast multitude of styles and genres within the metal universe. In particular, black metal continues to grow, expand and develop, shattering ceilings and pushing envelopes with artists like Deafheaven, Vallendusk, Paths, Void Ritual, Cosmic Church, Shylmagoghnar, Geaera, and Funeral Mist continually changing the goal posts on what black metal is and is becoming in 2018.

Enter Swedish veterans Marduk with album number 14, to sandblast my palette clean, reset my brain and remind us all what black metal is.

Again flirting with  controversy again using Teutonic/World War II imagery and themes  that graced 2015s underwhelming Frontschwein, Marduk continue to test boundaries that will likely see them protested or banned in the US, (and I’m sure in a purposeful, move the June 22nd release date is historically significant  as coincides with the  date The Axis Powers invaded The Soviet Union).  But the fact of the matter is Viktoria is a relentless, scathing, Marduk album that personifies black metal.

The 32 minute run time will upset some, but the 9 songs , with the slicing,  razor sharp, (if treble heavy) production feels longer. The pace is largely, expectedly , relentlessly Marduk-ian with the likes of “Werewolf” (with some disturbing hysterical screeches), “June 44”, “Equestrian Bloodlust”, standout  “Narva”,  “Viktoria” and particularly seething “The Devil’s Song” delivering pure, stabs of blackened furor.  No experimentation, no interludes, no keyboards, no clean vocals, (only air raid sirens, marching and other warlike samples). But Marduk also know when to deliver a more stoic, militant pace befitting a 1939 Third Reich parade: “Tiger I”, parts of “The Last Fallen” and closer “Silent Night”,

The big discussion among black metal fans will be Viktoria vs Immortal’s Northern Chaos Gods, as two of the genres oldest and most revered acts return to the fray in 2018. Personally, I’m going with Viktoria due to its refreshingly simple, ravaging effectiveness, but either way, the real winner is black metal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 23rd, 2018


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