For anyone who listens to black metal Marduk surely need no introduction, the Swedish group have been purveying their blasphemous warmongering filth for a quarter of a century now. The new album Frontschwein is the group’s 12th full length to date, and perhaps because they’ve been taking inspiration from their own source by playing the album live in full over the last few years, it’s the closest in sound to the legendary Panzer Division Marduk for a long while. But among the blitzkreig brutality there’s also lots of killer slower crushing parts, and Marduk show they’ve grown their sound over the last few releases, and the result is another great album.
The opening title track Frontschwein doesn’t quite deliver the same brilliance as the tracks that follow it though. It sounds like a pretty generic blackened death metal track for Marduk, with all the usual pieces together, the barbed wire tremolo riffage, blast beats, murky bass presence and Mortuus’ instantly recognizable rasps. A solid, if unimpressive start to the album. Second track The Blond Beast is where the album really starts getting interesting though. A militant drum beat and icy cold riffage create a truly evil atmosphere at a slower tempo for Mortuus to rasp over menacingly. Tempo changes from slow and brooding to sections of pummelling double bass make it a heavy, much more interesting track than the opener.
The album varies it’s tracks up brilliantly to keep it interesting, whether the simple riffage and catchy vocal lines of Afrika, the all out brutality of Rope of Regret or the slow, crushing brilliance of Nebelwerfer – Marduk pummel your head in a number of equally vicious ways throughout Frontschwein. While Marduk are known for their all out speed and brutality, they’re just as, if not more effective when they slow it down. The huge sharp tone to the guitars crush at that tempo, such as on the brooding Wartheland, and especially the aforementioned Nebelwerfer, arguably the best track on the album. The 6 minute track stomps along slowly and militantly, while barbed wire riffs buzz and fearsome battlecries take you to the horrors of the second world war.
Other songs blast along at unrelenting speed, reminiscent of Panzer Division Marduk, such as the barbaric Rope of Regret and Falaise: Cauldron of Blood, while 503 hearkens back to that album’s 502, albeit more slow and crushing.One of the band’s longest tracks to date comes in the form of Doomsday Elite, clocking in at over 8 minutes. Fearsome tremolo picked riffs and a desnse oppressive bass tone give the song a brilliantly cold, nihilistic air, completed by the icy screams.
Overall, the title track aside, Frontschwein is a brilliantly varied album of crushing black metal, showing creativity in spades. 12 albums in and they’re still showing the rest how it’s done. Highly recommended.
Catch Marduk on tour with the mighty Belphegor this winter: