Marduk - _La Grande Danse Macabre_
by: Matthias Noll (
Marduk, I think most of our readers will agree, is a band with a rather limited creative potential. Unlike artists who try to explore unknown, visionary territory, Morgan Hakansson and co are extremely skilled craftsmen -- engineers rather than visionaries -- capable of utilizing their skills within a given framework, determined by the merciless laws of the True Black Metal style. On their last studio record, _Panzer Division Marduk_ [CoC #42], they made the right move for a band with such a handicap: they avoided the creativity trap by moving into an even more extreme direction and occupying the throne of the fastest black metal band on earth. Let's not forget that being "the fastest" has been a very popular idea for twenty years or so and countless bands have made this claim. What ultimately matters is that Marduk have succeeded and others haven't. Now that with _LGDM_ the focus has switched back to a more varied, almost unspectacular approach, Marduk's limitations aren't camouflaged by the over-the-top onslaught that characterized _Panzer Division Marduk_. These limitations I see are a rather small arsenal of really inspired riff and break ideas (especially in the mid-tempo range), the foreseeable structure of almost all material on _LGDM_ once the first couple of seconds have indicated the general direction of the song or section, and Legion's unidimensional vocals. This might be true for older material as well, but increased diversity puts it more into the spotlight -- _Nightwing_, for example, had better songs and its two-part structure worked in favor of the general flow. Nevertheless, the super-tight ferocity of faster-than-the-speed-of-light tracks like the opener "Azrael" or the slow and pounding "Bonds of the Unholy Matrimony" are highly impressive and no song on this album is what you would call weak. The accompanying lyrics, which deal with the last theme in the trilogy of blood, war and death, are quite acceptable with the exception of "Jesus Christ... Sodomized". Featuring gems like "Piss on Christ and kill the priest, follow nature -- praise the beast", this is even more stupid and hilarious than almost anything I quoted in my German Metal Lyrics article in CoC #50. If they just wouldn't try to put such crap in rhymes... Excuse my ranting, but I really wonder how someone can seriously consider Marduk to have more integrity than bands with T-Shirt backprints like "Jesus Is a Cunt" or "Cunt Hunters of the Night". Production-wise, the Tagtgren brothers have done another good job and provided the instruments with more space than ever. They have even avoided to make _LGDM_ too Abyss-typical. I would have preferred less treble in exchange for more guitar volume, low end and distortion in the mix, which would have enforced the heaviness of the slower material, but overall the sound is good. With respect to clarity, it is probably the best Abyss work to date. In conclusion, this is a decent, diverse record, unfortunately with some weaknesses that make it inferior to both _Nightwing_ and _Panzer Division Marduk_. It is by no means a milestone, but certainly a necessary purchase for black metal maniacs and of course all of Marduk's broad fanbase.
(article published 5/13/2001)
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