Far Beyond the Grace of God
CoC interviews Marduk
by: David Rocher
Arguably the most brutal, blasphemous and undisputed icon in the Swedish extreme metal scene, Marduk are currently preparing to unleash the devastating force of their sixth full-length album, the not-very-ambiguously named _Panzer Division Marduk_. As the band's demo recordings are now truly attaining a cult status in the extreme metal scene, it's becoming increasingly clear that Marduk are an unhallowed, blackened force to be reckoned with. In the following interview, Legion, Marduk's uncompromising "mouth of Satan", demonstrates that nothing in the band's seemingly irrepressible ascension is left to fate alone. A cool-headed, sharp-minded, and coldly determined metalhead calmly talks about the unrelenting new onslaught that we frail, unsuspecting mortals are due to fall before. Once again, my thanks to the mighty metalhead Joey Jaffrezic (JJ) of Radio Meduse for his contributions to this journalistic slab of hate.

CoC: What's gone since the release of _Nightwing_?

Legion: Actually, not as much as we really wanted to do. We were scheduled for a US tour this summer together with Angel Corpse and Cannibal Corpse, but for several reasons, we never got on that tour, so we were stuck at home for a whole Summer, doing nothing. But tonight we're doing the last show on this tour, and then we'll get home, rehearse very intensively, do some Swedish gigs, do some gigs in Florida together with Cannibal Corpse, and then we're going to the studio to record our new album, _Panzer Division Marduk_.

CoC: When is _Panzer Division Marduk_ scheduled for release?

L: We hope to be able to release it in April or May, because we're going over to the USA after that, and the best time to play in the US, if you cannot do it in Winter, is in July-August, so it's got to be out before that. We're all working very intensively towards the stuff concerning the new recording, so it can be released as soon as possible -- late Spring, something like that.

CoC: What can we expect musically from _Panzer Division Marduk_?

L: Expect pure fucking Armageddon! We'll release the most intense black metal album ever released; no band in the past will have been able to do what we are about to do -- we'll have no heavy parts, no double-bass drumming, no -nothing- except full fucking breakneck speed all the time! We will release something like eight or ten songs, with full fucking blast beats all the time, very chaotic and hysterical riffing, but always controlled -- you will still hear that it is Marduk -- and very violent lyrics regarding war. Right now, I have completed three new lyrics, which are called "Blodorn", "Baptism by Fire" and "Panzer Division Marduk", which are all very cruel and devastating lyrics. So, prepare for the worst black metal assault so far!

JJ: Will it be a concept album?

L: Yeah, in a way -- the lyrics will not be connected as in the Vlad story of _Nightwing_, but all the lyrics will be dealing with topics of war and warfare, so in a way it's a concept album, because of the subject we have chosen.

CoC: The black metal trend seems to finally be receding; what do you think it will leave in its wake?

L: Yeah, I agree, and there'll be the same shit as with the death metal scene -- only a couple of bands survived, those bands who really put something of interest into the scene. For me, right now, there is no black metal scene any more, because it's very much -gothic- music, and the only thing I can say is in Marduk, we prefer to be -goatic- instead. I don't like goth music, I don't find it interesting at all. And I think it makes absolutely no sense that the guys stating to be the cruellest beings on earth sound like a fucking pop orchestra, with female vocals, synthesisers and all that shit, and sorry lyrics about how fucking sad they are when they're out in the forest -- I agree with Gene Simmons of Kiss, he said like "all them sorry bands, give them a hug and a trip to Disneyland" <laughs> --, because that is actually NOT what black metal is all about. Our lyrics will always be in the same vein, it's what we feel is the right thing to do regarding black metal, just very dark and malignant lyrics, which are really like a fist in the face of God. That is what we'll always be about, and for us, it's about the only thing you can do if you are stating to be a black metal band.

CoC: You were talking about synthesisers and female vocals in black metal -- do you completely disagree with this, don't you stand for bands like Emperor?

L: Emperor can do whatever they want, I'm not their fucking father, so I don't tell them what to do! <laughs> But, bottom line, Marduk will always be Marduk, and that's what counts to us, the rest of the scene can do what they want, we don't care, and we don't backstab other bands because they are not like us. My main priority, twenty six hours a day maybe, is Marduk, and that is all I count on. Of course I enjoy other bands, but it's their decision how they want to sound -- I don't judge anyone, they can do whatever they want, but for us, it's a totally wrong way of doing it!

CoC: Black metal has moved away from what it was meant to be, something really primitive and raw, so I guess _Panzer Division Marduk_ will be a back-to-the-roots sort of trip, that sticks to the stricter meaning of black metal?

L: Yeah, the riffing will be very primitive and very basic, I guess you can say so. But the first generations, the really early black metal bands, they don't have anything together with today's scene; what's in the past was in the past, and I don't really fancy those new bands trying to sound exactly like old-school, because a copy can never get better than the original. So, instead listening of ten new bands trying to sound like _Infernal Overkill_ of Destruction, I'd rather listen to that actual recording.

JJ: Don't you think that calling your new album _Panzer Division Marduk_ will get you trouble from the same people who criticised the cover of your _Live in Germania_?

L: Yeah, it will, for sure! It's the fucking witch-hunter spirit of the inquisition which [tries to] abolish free will and stop people from thinking, but nobody should tell us what to do, because it's not very difficult for us to fuck those guys! We can be in lots of other magazines, we can play at different locations in Germany, and they are the guys who'll be biting the grass. That _Live in Germania_ thing was really fucking stupid from them, because we recorded eighteen shows on the _Heaven Shall Burn..._ tour, and when we got home, we found that the four shows, all of which we played in Germany, were the absolute best -- superior sound, the songs we did were perfect, and everything was great, so we said "hey, let's do a celebration to Germany, because we've got a very good crowd there!" So we did, and of course we got shitloads of problems, all for nothing -- it's actually the same eagle which is featured on the one Deutsche Mark coins, so what do the Germans do in the stores? Are they like... [Hides is eyes with his hand and pretends to be disgusted by the coin he's placing on the counter.] <laughs> It's so stupid, should you be a Nazi if you pay with one Deutsche Mark coins? It's rather ridiculous, but Herve [the Osmose boss -- David] solved that very elegantly -- he changed some coins and sent them to the journalists, and they went "hey, it's alright". So, for sure, it will really be a punch in the eye for some guys, I know that, but I don't care, because we do whatever we want to do, and -no- fucking journalist is gonna tell us what is right or wrong, because that is up to US to decide! And also, people who read the lyrics will understand that the _Panzer Division Marduk_ album will -not- be a political album in any way, we are doing the same shit as always, only that this album will focus on war in a pretty modern kind of way, rather than in a medieval, occult evil way -- so, it's looking at the same thing, but from a different point of view.

CoC: Marduk are renowned for extreme Satanic lyrics; are the lyrics on _Panzer Division Marduk_ going to be in the same vein as on _Heaven Shall Burn..._ and your latest releases?

L: Yeah, they will, for sure. If the only supernatural Evil that ever existed on Earth was in the dark ages, in 1300 or something, then why would we be around doing what we do, if we didn't believe that thing still exists? We're looking at it from a different point of view, in a different century, but the lyrics regarding Marduk will always have a Satanic base, because that is what this band is really all about. It will be the same lyrics as always, but with a different touch, you could say.

CoC: Nowadays, science is able to explain a lot of what was considered as miracles and supernatural happenings, so how do you represent Satan to yourselves, now?

L: Just because you don't believe that the trolls are running around in the forest anymore doesn't really mean to me that there is no higher power. I believe in an [incomprehensible] divinity, a force so great our brains cannot get the whole picture, we can only see fractions of it. And it's so powerful, you are -nothing-, you're like a tiny little shit compared to that power, and that is what we believe in. That is our aim, with our lyrics, to hammer the last nail in the coffin of Christianity, and give praise to something which we feel is better. Regarding science, science is like a mumbo-jumbo occult thing in itself, people rely too much on it; it's like "take this pill, and you'll be like that", "use this machine, and you'll be like that" -- people rely too much on that shit, instead of thinking for themselves.

JJ: The next Marduk is announced as being the most violent black metal album ever created; is this the end of a cycle for Marduk?

L: Most likely, it'll be a peak of aggressiveness, I don't think we'll ever do such an extreme album again. But you never know, it's better to aim for one album which will be really devastating, rather than doing two or three small fires in a row. The album which will come out after _Panzer Division Marduk_ will be very varied, with lots of heavy parts and mid-paced stuff, like we did on _Nightwing_, but even more varied. And also, immediately after _Panzer Division Marduk_, we will record a mini-CD entitled _Face the Master_, which will be a double-bass drumming song, mid-paced, with lyrics based on the "Salem's Lot" story by Stephen King. And that mini-CD will most likely feature some cover versions as well, maybe from Exodus, Possessed or something like that -- we haven't decided yet.

CoC: I guess classical music isn't going to be as much of an inspiration for you as it has been so far?

L: For _Panzer Division Marduk_, it will very much be basic stuff, we just want to create the feeling of seventy tons of steel rolling across the battlefield. We'll never use classical music so that you can hear we're doing classical stuff, but since we listen to it very much at home, and some of the riffing in the metal scene in general and the violin in classical music are kind of related, I guess you can find some shit like that in Marduk's music, but _Panzer Division Marduk_ will aim at recreating the feeling of a battle -- that's what the album is all about!

JJ: Who influenced Marduk more, Bathory or Wagner?

L: Well, both, I guess! I really love the works of Wagner and I really love the first three Bathory albums as well, and some of the later albums are okay, like _Blood Fire Death_, _Twilight of the Gods_ and _Hammerheart_ -- they're okay, but not really good.

CoC: Would you ever consider, on works after _Panzer Division Marduk_, doing what you did with the track "Glorification of the Black God" -- taking a classical music theme and developing it into a metal symphony?

L: Yeah, we have already thought of that, and planned several pieces like that, but if it's going to be something in reality -- well, nothing's planned right now, so maybe, maybe not.

JJ: Some of you are implied in projects other than Marduk, such as Allegiance; is managing time and energy not too difficult in this case? Does Marduk remain your priority?

L: Well, the two guys who are in Allegiance don't do that much for Marduk -- Fredrik is our drummer, but he doesn't write any lyrics, I do all the lyrics, and Morgan [Hakansson, guitars] does most of the music; I'll maybe write one or two riffs for each album, and B War [bass] will write a couple, so Allegiance may be their priority regarding their creativity, but Marduk is our main priority: all four of us in the band are going for Marduk. We've already had to sacrifice a lot to keep this band going, and we'll sacrifice even more if we have to.

CoC: Do you still do some vocals on Ophthalamia's last album?

L: No, I quit Ophthalamia late '94, maybe early '95, and I met those guys maybe two or three times after that -- if I meet them, I still say hi and speak with them, but I've never done anything more with them.

CoC: What do you think of their last work, _Dominion_?

L: Actually, not too much, since I only heard it two times immediately after the studio. I think it sounds too much [like] Dissection and too mainstream, actually. It's not the same thing as it was -- which is pretty natural because you move on -- and you can really tell that the music is made this time by the younger brother Nodtveidt and Ole from Dissection. But I haven't listened to it that much, so I'm not the guy to review it, really.

CoC: Talking about Jon Nodtveidt and Dissection, how do you look upon what happened? I think he's has been sentenced to eight years in jail...

L: That's wrong, he's been sentenced to ten years.

CoC: I thought it was Vlad who got ten years...

L: Yeah, and Jon -- they both got ten years, because Jon moved forward to another court, thinking they would reduce his punishment. But they didn't, they gave him two more years. And, I mean, they can do whatever they want. I haven't really spoken to Jon since '95, when we were back at his place -- it was Jon, Vlad, some other guys from Gothenburg, me and Morgan, It and some other guys as well -- then we lost contact. If they want to shoot some people, if they think that is good, well, go ahead, I don't care, but I wouldn't do such a thing to spoil my entire career. Dissection could have gotten really big and now they will not, but... he has made his choice.

CoC: Do you think the purpose of these kind of actions was trying to draw the lights to the scene?

L: No, I don't know if that was their aim -- I don't think it was, but if it was, it's just rather meaningless, because releasing a good album is far better. And people won't take it seriously anyway, because it's just like some bad kind of promotion -- it's like the Norse church fires; if the guys were into burning those churches, why did they contact all the magazines afterwards? It's stupid.

JJ: Many bands have surfed on the black metal trend's success in order to get signed on larger labels -- did you receive any such offers? And are you satisfied with Osmose's work?

L: Yeah, we are very satisfied with Osmose. I think it's really the best label for Marduk, since they are professional; we can always rely on Herve, and they have got the power to distribute their albums correctly. But the most important thing to us is that we have total artistic freedom. Nuclear Blast would never have released the lyrics sheet for _Slay the Nazarene_, never; they would never have released the _Fuck Me Jesus_ CD; they would never have released the "Christraping Black Metal" t-shirt, nor our new shirt for the track "Slay the Nazarene" -- this will be the _Nightwing_ demon standing in a pentagram with Jesus' body, decapitated, on a cross on fire, and the demon's raising the head [at arm's length]. What other label this big would release such a shirt? Nobody that I can think of... so we are very, very satisfied with Osmose, they're doing a very good job for us.

JJ: So you'll stay on Osmose?

L: Yeah, yeah, yeah! We have one more album on our contract, which will be _Panzer Division Marduk_, and then we'll negotiate again, and see what they have to offer -- but we are satisfied!

CoC: Mentioning artwork, do you know why the artwork for _Fuck me Jesus_ was changed? The photos are completely different and the artwork was changed, too...

L: Yeah, it's a completely different [layout]. On the demo, it's a girl lying on a table and lots of demons circling around her, like they're ripping her. Actually, it was Herve who came up with the really splendid cover for the CD, and said "hey, let's do this!" And of course, we couldn't do anything but agree, because it's a fucking great cover!

CoC: What do you think of Osmose's roster of bands?

L: Well, I really like Immortal and Angel Corpse, they are fucking great bands, but the other Osmose bands, I haven't listened to a lot -- I don't listen to many of the bands in the metal scene today, so I'm not the guy to review them. It's not very interesting, for me anyway.

CoC: Do any other forms of art influence your music?

L: I guess I'm not really inspired by art, really, but of course you can get some cool ideas by studying art done by others. I'm very much into drawing myself, and I will begin as a tattoo artist as soon as we get home -- and that will be it for me, when I'm older and when I'm through with Marduk.

JJ: Metal has always become more extreme, do you think it is possible to create music more violent than black metal by Marduk or Immortal?

L: I don't really know... <laughs> I wonder how that would sound. But roughly, music has always gone in circles -- just look at the "ordinary" metal scene: it's not a coincidence that for instance Ratt have reformed and signed a big, big record deal in the USA; it's that this pussy wimp "up-metal" shit is coming back. There have [recently] been some retro thrash [acts] as well, and I guess death metal will get really big again -- it's always going in circles; it's like a new thing when it's returned, but you can still feel the roots. I don't know if bands will get more brutal, we'll see in future!

CoC: As a Swedish band, you claim to play "Swedish Black Metal" -- in your opinion, what are the main differences between Swedish and Norwegian black metal?

L: Erm... <hesitates> I don't know. I think the Norwegians go more for the moods, while we go for the brutality, I guess, but it's the only thing I can think of -- if you're not counting Darkthrone or Mayhem, which are really the most important bands over there, together with Emperor. But I don't really know -- we released the "Swedish Black Metal" shirt just to make clear that we are Swedish, because before, we'd got a lot of shit like "you guys cannot be real black metal [musicians], you're not from Norway!" If people really knew the Norwegian people, they wouldn't run around with Norwegian flags on their t-shirts, because the Norwegian people are very happy people who wear cardigans, sing songs, scratch themselves under the arms, and stuff like that <laughs> -- and they're pretty Christian too! It's NOT what people think over there, I can assure you. We only did the "Swedish Black Metal" t-shirt because we -are- a black metal band, and we -are- from Sweden -- bottom line!

JJ: Do you get decent support from the Swedish audiences?

L: Actually, Marduk hasn't played live in Sweden for four and a half years. There are no metal clubs in Sweden, there are hardly ever any concerts, there's -not- a scene in Sweden -- it's just like many bands, because the only way you can exist in that scene, if you have to call it like that, is by having a band. But Swedish crowds are not good, and the Norwegians are even worse, because everybody's got bands, and everybody's cocky and real big-headed, "I'm better than you, I cannot thrash around at your concerts", so it's mostly like this: [crosses his arms, and takes a proud stance with his nose turned up.] <laughs> So who the hell wants to play there? We feel much more comfortable down here in Europe where there's actually a good metal scene. We will do some Swedish gigs later just to do them, but we don't like playing back home.

JJ: Do you think corpsepaint is a part of black metal? What do you think of black metal bands who have given it up?

L: Well, I can only speak for Marduk, and we use corpsepaint because we want the whole concert to be the same: the lyrics, the music and the approach should be as brutal as possible, so we can really make clear to people what we are all about. In some ways, honestly, I wouldn't mind dropping it, because when you're out on tour, it's fucking hell getting that on and off every night, but it's a big part of our concept, and we won't drop it, we won't be unmasked. But regarding some of the new bands who use corpsepaint, it looks maybe a little bit funny when the music is soft and tender and the guys look like fucking demons! But for Marduk, we really use it to illustrate what we are singing about.

CoC: When you joined Marduk, did you ever think this band would ever be one of the most renowned "true" black metal bands around?

L: Well, I never looked upon it like that, all we wanted to do was play black metal, and do it the way we thought it should be done, like really die-hard -- either you do the whole package, or you don't and stay off it! There are hardly any black metal bands, everybody has started to work towards goth music, or some other strange kind of shit. But anyway, I don't know if we're a band doing it the right way or whatever, all we ever wanted to do was good black metal, and I guess we have succeeded so far, and we will not fail in the future either, we will not wimp out -- we'd rather quit than wimp out, because that is for suckers!

JJ: Now, you're answering our interview, you earn your living with your music, but as a child, did you ever think that one day, you'd be living like this?

L: Well, I've always been into metal -- I first discovered metal with Manowar, Dio and Iron Maiden and shit like that at the age of six, when the first hard-rock wave came to Sweden and it passed on TV and on the radio, and I was like, "wow!" So I always wanted this life, going around on tours and making albums, I really love it, I love every minute of the life I'm living right now, but of course, as a child, it was pretty hard to imagine. But one thing led to another, and now -- here I am! <laughs>

JJ: Don't you think that the black metal trend is running out, and that this is good as only the best bands will remain?

L: Yeah, it will be like a funnel for the bands who didn't make it this time, they'll have to either wait until the next time when there is a market for new black metal bands, or they'll have to change style, which will be the same thing as the death metal scene experienced in the early nineties: from those old bands, it's almost like only Deicide, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse [and] Immolation are still around. I guess it'll be very much the same for us; right now, we have such a strong position, so we won't be affected if the trend runs out, because we have very devoted fans, and we will still be able to tour and create new albums. In a way, it will be good, because all these new bands who are playing "arrogant artistic force nymphomaniac blah blah" won't be around, but since I've really stopped caring about the scene, I don't mind them at all! Trends come and go, and from each wave of new music, there will only be a few guys left, that's always the case.

CoC: Sweden is mainly renowned for death metal bands; how do you appreciate present-day Swedish death metal bands?

L: Well, the death metal bands of Sweden I loved were the early Entombed, which was very, very good, and Dismember; they were extremely great -- the first Dismember album and the early demos were totally amazing, but for the Swedish death metal scene of today, I don't give that much actually. I think all those bands like Grotesque, which were actually more black metal, were really good, but since then, I've not discovered so much interesting stuff. If I go for death metal, I'd rather choose the US style of doing it, because I think it's better.

CoC: If Marduk were to write the music to a film, what would this film be?

L: Erm... Some very bizarre and brutal horror movie, something maybe as shocking today as the first "Evil Dead" movie when it came out -- I remember seeing that uncut for the first time when I was a kid, and I almost shit in my pants! So something like that would be really, really cool to do -- if we're asked by some guys, we'll do it for sure. Or something more like the weird, low-budget stuff. Yeah, why not -- I like many old second-grade horror movies. Some are very, very cool!

JJ: Last words for Marduk fans?

L: Yeah -- if you're not a metalhead, you might as well be dead! <laughs>

(article submitted 14/3/1999)


CHATS
11/4/2009 J Smit Marduk: Unholy Blasphemies
1/31/2008 J Smit Marduk: Echoes of Decimation
6/10/2007 J Smit Marduk: Hosannas From the Basement of Hell
11/29/2004 J Smit Marduk: The Plague Rages On
ALBUMS
7/1/2012 J Carbon 7.5 Marduk - Serpent Sermon
6/26/2011 J Carbon 6.5 Marduk - Iron Dawn
10/24/2009 J Ulrey 8.5 Marduk - Wormwood
5/1/2007 J Smit 9.5 Marduk - Rom 5:12
11/29/2004 J Smit 8.5 Marduk - Plague Angel
5/13/2001 M Noll 8 Marduk - La Grande Danse Macabre
8/12/1999 D Rocher 9 Marduk - Panzer Division Marduk
4/13/1998 S Hoeltzel 7.5 Marduk - Nightwing
8/12/1997 S Hoeltzel 8 Marduk - Live in Germania
10/11/1996 S Hoeltzel 8 Marduk - Glorification
10/11/1996 S Hoeltzel 9 Marduk - Heaven Shall Burn When We Are Gathered
GIGS
12/2/2007 J Smit Marduk / Vreid A Doomsday Celebration
5/13/2001 M Noll Marduk / Mortician / Vader / God Dethroned / Amon Amarth / Mystic Circle / Sinister / ...And Oceans / Bal Sagoth Baptized by Fire and Beer
8/12/2000 M Noll Deicide / Immortal / Cannibal Corpse / Marduk / Vader / Dark Funeral / Hate Eternal / Vomitory There's No Mercy in Satan's Oven
1/15/2000 P Azevedo Marduk / Angelcorpse / Enthroned Night of the Living Corpses
1/15/2000 M Noll Cannibal Corpse / Marduk / Angelcorpse / Aeternus / Defleshed Two Corpses, One God and No Flesh
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