Marduk
World Funeral

Does Marduk offer anything new? Do they need to if they deliver their style so perfectly? The sound quality is a vast improvement over La Grande…, pulverizing your vocal chords with an immense wall of sound with drumming so intense you will get bruises. Punishing without overpowering the guitars, they have finally achieved the perfect drum sound. Performance wise, the drumming is as accomplished as ever. Legion’s vocals, so clearly growled that one can catch every word, yet still among the most extreme out there today, are not lost in the maelstrom that is the crushing rhythm section. Once again they demonstrate unrivaled subtlety. The guitar leads are clear and cleanly played. From the fast “With Satan and Victorious Weapons” to the slow “Castrum Doloris” to the more typically mid paced “Hearse,” Marduk varies their delivery quite a bit here, with a heavy dose of modern Marduk heavily sprinkled with older Marduk flavorings. A good balance of fast and slow songs actually keeps things off balance as the songs progress.

They made their point with Panzer Division, it is now safe for them to write some more killer slower material without fear of being labeled a trend jumper. The very first line of the opening song, after the movie sample, is “fist in the face for the time smothered angel.” Obviously they are not developing a subtle persona. While it is hard for them to outdo themselves lyrically and symbolically, they set the bar so high at the beginning, they are still trying. Their fans don’t need them to. People that would be offended/ revolted are not the target audience and are already amassed against extreme metal anyway. Me, as a fan, I am not more or less likely to enjoy a song because it is called “Slay The Nazarene” instead of say perpetual torture, so long as they don’t go all the way to Jesus Christ Superstar instead of “Jesus Christ Sodomized.” But as long as they are trying this hard I’ll continue to enjoy it.

Marduk remains one of the few bands that I automatically pick up each new release without hearing it first. Obviously this means I have been defending them for the last decade since the consensus seems to be that they are the actual definition of boring black metal. For some reason I have always enjoyed their music more than the average fan so my dilemma is how do I convince you that this disc is worth your perusal with you now knowing I am an unreasoningly faithful Marduk fan. (Yes, I bought Blackcrowned.) Maybe telling you that the extreme slow passages in “Bloodletting” and “Blessed Unholy”  especially the throwback ultra slow guitars, recall favorably their early releases. What’s that you say? The only disc you ever heard was Panzer Division and you hated it? Not only did you miss the point, you missed the back catalog. Well, we get the Panzer-speed as well as the Nightwing heaviness and power. The speed changes characteristic of their early work is in evidence on “Blessed Unholy.” In actuality, World Funeral is Marduk’s 13 year history not just a continuation of their most recent work. La Grande Danse Macabre finished the trilogy as the ‘death’ album and lyrically World Funeral could be the ‘murder’ album. “Bleached Bones” says “when their bodies get too rotten their skeletons do great.” “Cloven Hoof” suggests you “rip the priests head off – don’t need that leech” and “Bloodletting” announces that the “bodycount is rising for the dirge.” Legion growls  “I believe in you”  as the final line on the album. then we get the nice funeral processional horn concerto music of  “Blackcrowned” to end a very well presented album.

My favorite songs, “Bloodletting” (this version sounds better than the one on Blackcrowned) with it’s mesmerizingly rhythmic guitars, reminds me of Immortal’s “Frostdemonstorm.”  The most imaginative and memorable riffs on the disc, as well as lightning fast drumming, appear on “Night of the Long Knives.” One of the few truly discernible bass rhythms, not overpowered by the guitar, is on “To The Death’s Head True,” which features more sedate drumming. This is the disc to get if you want to give Marduk a second chance. The only thing missing is a nice ballad to show off Legion’s versatility. Check out “Paint it Black” on the Blackcrowned disc for an example. I’d call it mandatory Marduk, but as you know I’m biased. Give it a try anyway, you will be glad you did.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
February 12th, 2003

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