Marduk
Dark Endless, Those Of The Unlight, Opus Nocturne, Heaven Shall Burn…When We Are Gathered Re-issues.

I’m sure these re-issues, which are now apparently available for the first time domestically in the US are no big deal to 95% of black metal fans seeing as most die hard fans no doubt already own Marduk’s first four albums. However, for black metal noobs like me whose first exposure to Marduk wasn’t until 2003’s World Funeral, these Regain Re-issues are like a 4 edition history lesson of one of metals most important and influential bands.

How much of a Marduk rookie am I? I had no idea Dark Endless was the band’s first album. And even listening to it, if I had not known, I would never had guessed this 1992 album was from Marduk. Rough and ready, scrawling, mid range, at times doomy death metal that sounds like it was from the Stockholm death metal scene of the 90’s. With the exception of the higher register screams of one album member Andreas Axelsson Dark Endless could be a Nihilist or Gorement demo as tracks like “Within the Abyss”, “Still Fucking Dead”, “Departure From the Mortals” and the title track rumble and crumble with archaic, yet nostalgic girth. However, strains of the bands blacker direction can be heard in tracks like “The Sun Turns Black as Night” and “The Funeral Seems to be Endless” and “The Black”.

The band’s development from Dark Endless to 1993’s similar sounding Those of the Unlight and 1994’ Opus Nocturne is arguably the bands largest shift and thing seems to have cleaned up in the production department and song writing as well as switching to Jocke Göthberg for vocals and the addition of long time bassist B War. Though still arguably not yet a full fledged black metal act due to a surprising variety of pace (i.e. “Those of the Unlight”, “Wolves”) but in tracks like the blistering “The Sun has Failed” (Opus Nocturne) you can really hear the seething undercurrent of the band’s eventual black metal peak that would be Panzer Division Marduk. I can see why these two albums are highly regarded, as to me as a first time listener, I was surprised how developed and varied they were.

Now, I’ve read various conflicting opinions as to which is Marduk’s ‘best’ album, however it seemed that 1996’s Heaven Shall Burn… is a candidate as Marduk’s crowning achievement and where the band, with the addition of Legion on vocals started their more famed direction of relentless, wall of noise black metal. Now, I have not heard Nightwing, but have heard all the other Marduk albums (spurned by these 4 re-issues), so I can’t vouch for its quality, but I’m going to have to say Heaven Shall Burn… is the best Marduk album I personally have heard. It seems to subtly mix the band’s earlier tones with the all out assault that would be Panzer Division. I’m blown away by the ravenous yet intelligent intensity of tracks like “Beyond The Grace of God”, the classical reworking (Holst or Wagner?) of “Glorification”, “Infernal Eternal” “Darkness It Shall Be” and “Legion” which seem to be the very benchmark, epitome and apex of classic black metal.

Unfortunately there’s little in the way of bonus material if you already own these albums. All four have essentially the original artwork, inlays and production, and there are no linear notes or detailed comments or interviews. Dark Endless has for really rough live tracks, Opus Nocturne has 4 really raw rehearsal tracks and Heaven Shall Burn… has 4 demo tracks. Nothing to get to exited about for collectors, however if like me, you are rediscovering black metal and its origins, these four re-issues are keys in the pantheon of the genre.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
June 20th, 2007

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