Marduk - _Serpent Sermon_
(Century Media Records, 2012)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (7.5 out of 10)
One of black metal's most endearing legends involves the suicide of Mayhem vocalist Per Ohlin. After taking his own life in 1991, Ohlin's bandmates discovered the body, took photographs for future album covers, and kept skull fragments as souvenirs. Mayehm's guitarist Euronymous supposedly mailed these fragments to various black metal musicians as a tribal sign of respect. I always thought this part was too mythic to be fact and only played a part in black metal's legendary narrative. To my surprise, it was true. I really do not know what to think after reading a recent report stating a member of Marduk owns a piece of Ohlin's skull.

The recent confirmation of this legend has not only kicked up dust to the mystic of Scandinavian black metal but it also reminds everyone of a strain of evil which band members still embrace. While things are constantly changing for black metal, there seems to be people who will never change and continue to make music dedicated to lawless darkness. Hello Marduk.

Marduk represents a historic pillar in black metal. Sweden has often been overlooked for its Norwegian variety, yet the longevity of its bands far eclipses the more popular bands. Marduk has been making decent and consistent records since the mid '90s. They are one of the bands which represents an unwavering dedication to blasphemy and war driven black metal. What do we have for 2012? _Serpent Sermon_.

The album may be great, but I am finding difficulty in awarding such merit to an album with the title _Serpent Sermon_. It could be the worst thing in the world. Alright, maybe not that bad, but _Serpent Sermon_ does not convey the amount of craft and atmosphere demanded by the record. Marduk has never been one for song or album titles, yet what they lack in wordsmith they make up for in gut wrenching terror.

Marduk has a unique ability to create an atmosphere of enjoyment when an arena of evil anarchy. Though the lyrics are hinged on deep satanic worship and blasphemy, there are strong strands of accessibility. This assessment is not rooted in some undermining of credibility, rather a testament to a band with a history of strong songwriting.

While the entirety of _Serpent Sermon_ is above average, it is the longer closing tracks that catch attention. "World of Blades" and "Coram Satanae" slow down the tempo and allow the band to craft some interesting moments when cruising in a lower gear. The same crawling strength also lies in the album's finest song, "Temple of Decay". While these tracks may not possess the speed that originally defined the band, they are still successful and above all else interesting.

At times I feel my accessible summation of Marduk does harm to the band's proposed image. While Marduk exudes an evil disposition, they must be doing something which has caused them to outlive most of their contemporaries -- both in profession and mortality. Black metal is entering its 30th year in existence. This Swedish band is a testament to strength and resilience throughout the decades. They are much like your grandfather -- who still could win in a wrestling match. Hello Marduk, it is wonderful to see you.

(article published 1/7/2012)

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
3/14/1999 D Rocher Marduk: Far Beyond the Grace of God
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
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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