Marduk - _Nightwing_
(Osmose Productions, 1998)
by: Henry Akeley (
Is it possible to blast along at hell's pace for the better part of 47 minutes without actually going anywhere? Yes. This album proves it. Granted, Marduk is one seriously ferocious band, which is cool -- but sonic ferocity isn't everything. Musical ideas are important, too, but these days Marduk seems to be running low on those. Oh, wait, here's one! Come up with two or three riffs and go through them, generally at hyperspeed, over and over and over... If the riffs are strong ones, interestingly arranged, then this formula can add up to some kick-ass music. But most of the riffs on _Nightwing_ seem quite flavorless to me, and the song structures are really basic. So although the music is incredibly vehement... well, it basically just sits there being incredibly vehement, doing nothing else to earn or sustain any interest. (By contrast, the new Setherial album shows that it's possible to fold more depth and development into this mega-blasting style.) Of course, sometimes sheer intensity is all you're asking for, and Marduk certainly delivers on that score, with unbelievable drumming, wicked vocals, and sharp, tough production. But I think they did the same musical thing better on 1994's _Opus Nocturne_. (That's my pick for Marduk's best. In retrospect, I think my praise for _Heaven Shall Burn_ was too generous. But I digress.) One intriguing thing about _Nightwing_ is its inclusion of a five-song cycle dealing with the real life and times of Vlad Tepes of Wallachia. As usual, my promo copy contains no text, so I have no idea how they've actually developed this theme lyrically, but I think this Vlad-oriented section contains the album's best songs. Two of these tracks slow things down to create a darker, heavier feeling; also included is a re-recording of the blazing "Deme Quaden Thyrane" (originally from _Opus Nocturne_ and the best song on _Nightwing_ too, if you ask me). This is not a bad album overall, but it seems like a rather uninspired rehash of Marduk's earlier, better material.
(article published 4/13/1998)
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