Fuck Me Jesus(demo - 1991 / re-released: Osmose - 1995)
A first stab at extreme music from these most extreme of artists, and it is surprisingly death, not black metal. After an intro of sounds from the movie 'The Exorcist' (the title of this album should be enough of a clue as to which scene they chose), the guitars kick in with surprising crunch and low-end warmth for a black metal band. This immediately sets this off as a death metal album. The songs alternate between brutal blasting and slow doomy crunch, almost turning this into doomdeath. The drumming shifts tempo together with the guitars, blasting one minute and slowing down the next. Vocals are not quite raspy black metal yells, opting instead for a lower timbre and sounding more like a high-pitched growl rather than a rasp. They are full of power and malice though and damn good. A keyboard outro completes this short 13 minute raw release that leaves nothing but a mediocre impression in the mind. The problem here lies in the composition: the flow and power breaks up all the time and makes you lose interest. For collectors only.
Dark Endless(No Fashion - 1992)
Pretty much the same style as in the demo, only the music suffers from a weaker production here. The guitars have lost a lot of the booming crunch and the vocals sound weaker. The sound quality may have had everything to do with it, but I do believe the vocalist doesn't give us as much power here. So not only do we have mediocre composition this time, but a lot of the power is lost in the recording as well. This 30 minute release contains the three tracks off the demo plus five new ones. The new songs use less of the doomier elements but still remain uninteresting most of the time due to the unstructured changes in rhythm, and the lack of bridges and flow. In other words, bad composition. You get into some powerful and really fast blast beats, grinding your teeth, and then it suddenly shifts to an irrelevant slow riff. Some dark and strong moments but all-in-all very uninteresting.
Those of the Unlight(Osmose - 1993)
Enter black metal, a few insane blast beats, much improved composition and power, and we now have a release to roll our eyes to and feed our black souls with. The only disappointment with this release is the somewhat thin production that kills a lot of the punch behind the music. Otherwise, the songs flow here with dynamic malice and power, a relenting sound that stops for a while before speeding up to crush all non-believers. Blast beats sometimes build up to insane, even faster brutality; plenty of slower sections here make for a surprisingly dynamic sound without losing the flow and power; also variations, many different guitar sounds and much more interesting drumming all add to the overall sound. The vocals are harsher here and often packed with screaming anguish. One standout track is 'Echoes from the Past', clocking at 7 minutes, of which 5 are a subdued and beautiful melody played with undistorted guitar and keyboards. An interesting, underrated and strongly recommended release, especially for those who like raw and brutal guitar black metal.
Opus Nocturne(Osmose - 1994)
Sheer holocaust speed and intensity is the name of the game this time, and the slightly fuller and clearer production helps this immensely. This time, many songs and sections go for what I call a wall-of-sound effect: unrelenting, brutal, the music too intense to tap your foot to, and you can only sit still and bathe yourself in the sorrounding hellfire that comes out of your speakers. This effect is not always as complete or unrelenting though as with, say, Immortal or Emperor, since the songs do change a little in intensity. I found the previous release more tight and dynamically interesting but this is definitely darker and more wildly intense. So for some, the previous album may be preferable even though most deem this one to be their best. I can compare the two styles of brutality to, for example, constant torture and torture with pauses. The former is a delirious and constant state of pain and the latter seems more intense since the pain erupts again and again, each time more painful than before. So I enjoy each of these styles for what they are. But enough general discussion and back to this album... The drumming here has to be heard - a ferocious, insanely fast, often changing and precise work of chaos that makes it hard to believe it wasn't speeded up in the studio. Vocals are equally harsh and ferocious, yet some songs are practically carried by the interesting and dominant drumming. The guitars spew out precise speedy riffs with traces of dark melodies. Standouts: 'Materialized in Stone' - a slower Bathory-esque anthem, and 'Opus Nocturne' with its spoken clean vocals. A great album.
Heaven Shall Burn... When We are Gathered(Osmose - 1996)
Take the previous album, add much louder mixing and a full and booming production, take away quite a lot of the dynamic composition and drumming and you basically have this release. In other words, the music has a more intense and dominating sound but unfortunately it suffers from uninteresting and one-dimensional composition this time. What happened to the fascinating drumming and the dynamic flow of the songs? This time they go for simpler mindless blasts most of the time. The 'wall-of-sound' is more complete here, but when there is nothing within the walls to play with, it merely becomes boring noise. It isn't all that bad though; it does get interesting at times (especially the first and last songs) and the guitar riffs are quite good, but there is just too much repetition and boring blasts that stay in the same place. After listening closely I realized the hi-hats are drowned often in the strong mix and the rest is a tad too loud - one of the reasons why the drumming sounds stagnant. The pace is just as insane as before though. The rest is similar to the last album: fast guitar riffing with haunting textures, and ferocious, raspy vocals. To summarize, this is not a total waste of time and many fans do think highly of this one, but I personally would choose the two previous albums over this one anyday. Not recommended.
Glorification - EP(Osmose - 1996)
This EP contains a remix of 'Glorification of the Black God' (from Heaven Shall Burn) and four covers. Not much improvement with the remix but it is among the better tracks from that album. "Total Desaster" (Destruction) is a hammer smashing, 80's style, NWOBHM sounding, romping but simple song, delivered with gusto by Marduk. Then we have two Piledriver covers ("Sodomize the Dead" & "Sex With Satan") that are similar in sound - heavy, pounding and simple fun, conveyed with spitting glee and malice. The last cover is "The Return of Darkness and Evil" (Bathory) - another one in the same style more or less but with a much too mechanical, noisy and uninteresting interpretation. So overall, a little interest and fun with three tracks, but nothing extraordinary.
Live in Germania(Osmose - 1997)
Not being a big fan of live albums, I may be the wrong person to review this but this one is quite good in fact and I shall try to remain objective. The most worthy songs here in my opinion are the five taken from Heaven Shall Burn, due to the improved drum mixing (even though it's not as clear) and the slower ones that really shine when played aggressively live. The other tracks gain from the increased energy but lose a clearer sound of course. Overall, this contains a nice blend of clarity and raw loud energy from the live set - rippingly good and appropriate. The vocals are strong, the bass is surprisingly audible, the drumming is almost as insane as with the studio albums, but the guitars and drums can get, inevitably, slightly drowned at times. Also included in this 60 minute album are: three tracks from 'Opus Nocturne', two from 'Those of the Unlight', the Destruction cover, and even one track off the demo that is much improved here. For Marduk fans that enjoy the electricity from live albums, this is a very worthy purchase and quite tempting even for me.
Here's No Peace(Osmose - 1997)
A remake of two songs off of Dark Endless ('Still Fucking Dead' and 'Within the Abyss') with the intro played separately on guitar as 'Here's No Peace'. The sound quality has improved greatly as well as the aggression, and they play with their current competence with their instruments and vocals. Better, but the songs remain mediocre or uninteresting.
Nightwing(Osmose - 1998)
Marduk were never too innovative and on this album we start hearing the repetition of their previous styles, but this is a collection of almost everything that is good about Marduk and an incredibly intense album. The production has topped out and is now perfect - everything clear, full and perfectly mixed. The composition is both unrelentingly intense and dynamic and the speed is insane yet more controlled this time. Sounds like their best album you say? Perhaps, but at times it seems that the riffs and arrangements were slightly more interesting on Opus Nocturne or Those of the Unlight. With such power, great riffs and clear production though, it is impossible to say no, and Marduk obviously manage to squeeze the maximum out of this style of music. There is not much more to say about the music here that I haven't said before: speedy precise riffs, incredibly fast yet dynamic drumming, and slightly more guttural and harsh, wicked vocals. Yet again, they include a slower heavy track and an eerie intro, as well as a remake of "Deme Quaden Thyrane" from Opus Nocturne. This is a superb album - one of their best (if not the best), and highly recommended to fans of this style.
Panzer Division Marduk(Osmose - 1999)
Shaking their fists and roaring defiance to all powers that be, Marduk erupt into the rawest, most brutal and powerful blackened music yet. Absent are the keyboards, double bass drums, heavy and slow sections, and any traces of dark romanticism that was present in some of their previous releases (and in the black metal scene in general); this is blitzkrieg metal to be played while obliterating the enemy en masse. This album will shake off anyone hopping onto the romantic black metal bandwagon with a flick of its tail, and speed off to more worthy challenges with rabid hostility. With a theme of war as its subject and a few war sound samples as intros, this release races at the speed of blast 100% of the time, with well placed breathers in the middle to regain your breath and eardrums before diving right back into the massacre. The music consists of racing, simple dark riffs, stunning drumming (even though it's almost all blast beats), yet the composition is so tight and the conviction so powerful that I was converted immediately. Raw and minimal it is, but somehow the music never gets boring. Quite the opposite in fact, the sound grabs you into a whirlwind of blackened malice until you feel you can bring down lightning bolts with your fists. Highly recommended and I couldn't care less if you don't like it.