Marduk is one of those names I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, they’ve been doing the same stuff over and over again, not exactly reinventing themselves at all with their releases for the past decade or so, but also not stopping at any point along the way or changing their formula to the worse. Marduk has pretty much ceased to move me after World Funeral, and everything that came after, such as Plague Angel and Rom 5:12 was pretty mediocore to my own ears.
It wasn’t bad at all, but it just wasn’t as bombarding as the band’s earlier works. Serpent Sermon, that went out 3 years ago, changed my thoughts about the band – it presented Marduk in the same known musical theme, but it was simply… good. Good enough, to be considered easily as one of the best releases by the band.
I received Frontschwein with high expectations, and it most certainly did not disappoint. First of all, it’s awesome to see that the band is writing about WWII once again, which automatically adds up several points to the band, when a history nerd such as me spins it.
The first song in the album is also the title track and as such it showcases the long running Swedish band in the most aggressive way possible. Make no mistake, Marduk will take no prisoners here, as super-fast blast beats would tear your speakers apart, while the sheer sickness of Mortuus’ vocals fit perfectly to the musical battlefield the band manages to create through the album. Easily put, “Frontschwein” is a slang term for a (German) soldier fighting in the front, and even though it is not a WWII concept album, I really love to see the whole coming-back-to-Panzer-Division-era thing that’s going on here. This album is fast, relentless, and generally puts Marduk back in their rightful place as leading characters in the Black Metal scene.
The band’s new drummer, Fredrik Widigs, shows his worth and his wrath (see what I did there?) during the whole 52 minutes of the album, with songs such as “Afrika” or “Rope Of Regret” that really puts him and his abilities to the test. Fast as a bullet, the new recruit blasts his path with a fierce speed through the battalion of heavy riffs, topped with the help of Mortuus, the band’s frontman and the one responsible for the sick vocals that actually vary a little bit from time to time.
The album also features some slower, mid-paced moments, like “The Blond Beast” at the beginning or “Nebelwerfer”. These actually fit in great and provide a nice plot twist, mainly because such tracks aren’t exactly to be expected in the narrow subgenre Marduk position themselves in. Nevertheless, the band manages to execute it in their own heavy manner, and while it doesn’t venture into a Doom-ish field, it does have a melancholic feel to it. The one and only flaw in the album that I can think of – is the one and only flaw in Marduk, and that is that their song structure can sometimes be quite repetitive and even though the music gets along fine with it and I guess there’s no other way to imagine Marduk’s music, it can also act as a flaw.
By the time you’ll get to the last song in the album, “Thousand-Fold Death”, you’ll either be tired of the above-mentioned flaw, or fully embrace it and love it, since the band manages to use it to their advantage. The last track, would rip out your heart, cut it into small pieces, then put it back in your chest with it’s super-fast attitude and if you have any neck muscles left from all the previous headbanging, now’s the time to use them.
All in all, I can definitely say that Frontschwine is recommended, even if, like me, you weren’t the biggest fan of the band’s music for the past few years.It’s Marduk. There’s no real innovation here so don’t expect any, just the same old formula done in a fabulous way.
02. The Blond Beast
05. Rope Of Regret
06. Between The Wolf-Packs
08. Falaise: Cauldron Of Blood
09. Doomsday Elite
11. Thousand-Fold Death