Marduk – Frontschwein (Century Media)Sunday, 12th April 2015
Marduk are one of the longest-standing stalwarts of Satanic black metal around, cranking out the blasphemy since their infamous Fuck Me Jesus demo way back in 1991. Of course, true longevity in music is elusive, and the Swedish band only can boast guitarist Morgan from the beginnings to the present. But almost as long-standing with the band is bassist Devo, who appeared as a guitarist on the first two Marduk records and returned to take control of the bass since 2004. On Frontschwein, the band’s thirteenth studio effort, we have the Marduk debut of drummer Fredrik Widigs, who also plays with Montreal band (and Season of Mist signees) Rage Nucleaire, doing a fine job manning the engine of this black metal war machine. Of course, throat-man Mortuus in also in tow to spit his black metal venom, in good form, on this latest outing – now his fifth with the band since joining in 2004.
Leading off the charge is the title track, with an anthemic melody that will no doubt whip up the faithful into a frenzy when unleashed in a live setting. A muscular barrage of blasting drums, which is unrelenting throughout the album, sets a nice snap-neck pace against the clear guitar riffs/melody. And a pretty strong melody at that, granted this is Marduk – not some “melodic” black metal band – so the melodies contained on the album are of the more sinister nature, as one would expect. Modern production is in play on Frontschwein, and there are no left turns or surprises in store, heading on from the opening track. You’ll get eleven tracks of intense Swedish black metal, with no genre-bending of the sort. This is professional grade black metal, no more, no less.
“Doomsday Elite” is the first real standout track on the outing, aside from the strong opener, coming in at around the 36th minute of the 52 minute album. “Thousand-Fold Death” with its spiraling riffs and nice use of melody amid the assaulting punishment served up by the drums and vocals is also a highlight, and a really good note to close out on. What it boils down to is a fresh slab of good quality yet standard-issue black metal warfare, book-ended by a good opener and closer. Frontschwein won’t disappoint the fans, but likely won’t awe those unfamiliar with the band, either.