If you follow me on social media or know me personally, you’d know that I fucking love Marduk. The stuff with Legion more than anything (Nightwing and Panzer Division Marduk being my favorites), but the Mortuus era has brought some exceptional offerings to the table as well. The best one, in my opinion, being Frontschweign. I was clamoring for a follow-up ever since, hoping they would continue the somewhat melodic, but bludgeoning sound that it brought to the table. 3 years later, we finally have said follow-up, and upon laying my eyes on the cover art for the first time, I wasn’t necessarily worried, but it did raise an eyebrow. Then I heard Werewolf. Oh boy. Pretty weak track at first listen, that sounded to me like a watered down version of Watain. It was kinda Punky, which I dug, but the delivery to me was just off. So, I just waited until I was able to give the full album a spin, which I did, and oh joy. When I first heard the album, I didn’t like it at all. Like, AT ALL. I thought it was dull, bland and void of any form of aggression. The disappointment was through the roof. Like the album was a drug dealer and I were it’s parents. To me, it was just a weak outing and a weak follow-up to what I consider one of their absolute best outings…. HOWEVER.
A few listens over a few days later, it began to sink in on me. I began to get it more and I actually started to enjoy it. It grew on me a great deal. Now, I thinks it’s a pretty damn good album. Still not their best by a fucking mile, but still a good one. Viktoria is a weird but interesting case of experimentation where the outcome splits right down the middle and you’re free to land on either side of the fence. I just landed on one side and crawled my way to the other. Honestly, i’m glad I did. Funny how that works sometimes, right? I’m just going to cut to the chase and talk about how I feel about the album now, instead of how I did originally. Again, it just needed time to grow on me and how I felt about it then is irrelevant. So here goes. Werewolf starts this beast off, with it’s Punky vibe and sorta catchy groove. It’s a decent track for what it is. It doesn’t have that bludgeoning sound that I usually expect from Marduk, but it packs it’s own punch in it’s own, Punky way.
Then comes June 44, which has become one of my favorites of the bunch, with a pretty catchy main riff that flows throughout, over blasting drums and Mortuus’ shrieks that intensify a little from the previous track. This is where things pick up. Equestrian Bloodlust keeps the intensity going by continuing the riffy, blasty onslaught, another really good track that took a few listens to sink in, but did! Same for the paced but nasty Tiger I. Mortuus gets gradually more snarly and intense as the album goes on and it’s pretty sick. Narva and the title track are also examples of that. The Devil’s Song is the most reminiscent track of Frontschweign and harkens to that style the most. It’s violent, punishing and tears into you from start to finish. Finally, Silent Night closes the madness with slow, fleeting riffs and a staggering groove that plays out to the end, like a wounded soldier crawling away from battle. Good closer. I found myself really clamoring for more afterward after my like, 5th listen. It is indeed a good batch of tracks overall and still modern Marduk doing what they do best.
So basically, if you’re not big on this one at first, give it a chance to grow on you. It just might, even if at first, it’s as disappointing as a daughter with daddy issues (or a daddy with daughter issues… I don’t know). The aggression is there, the drive is there and it is a competent modern Marduk album. It just took me a few listens for it to click. I still fucking love these guys and a discography review is coming in the near future! I’m glad this didn’t turn out to be a turd that I have to avoid mentioning during said disco review. Expect it in the next couple months! This is no Frontschweign and it’s definitely no Panzer Division, but it’s not the worst you’ll ever hear form these sinister Swedes, so give it a shot and support!