Marduk is back with their fifteenth (!!) full-length called “Memento Mori” (not to be mistaken with Depeche Mode’s newest spawn with the same name). Reigning for more than thirty years, Marduk has never let me down. Well…, maybe they have with “La Grande Danse Macabre” but this album has already been released more than twenty years ago. While a lot of fans were disappointed with 2018’s release “Viktoria” I really enjoyed their previous album. But whether you like this Swedish war machine’s discography or not, Marduk is marching on and will give a ferocious and powerful battle to claim – or keep – the black metal throne.
A lot of effort has been put in the perfect sound. While the sound on “Viktoria” was a little stale this time the atmosphere is more organic although it can be as cold as bones buried deep in the ground. It also gives subtle ambient sounds the chance to creep in. Once again recorded, mixed and mastered in the Endarker Studio, Devo made sure that there’s a raw, dirty and powerful production and makes sure that all instruments, including a fat bass guitar sound, can be heard on all ten tracks. Devo can also be found as a guest musician on bass (as well as live on stage this year after Joel Lindstrom was fired for reasons you can find all over the internet).
While “Frontschwein”(2015) and “Viktoria” had the theme of war, “Memento Mori” is all about death and reflecting on mortality. It gives the album a different side of grimness – just delve into the well concocted lyrics if you want to know more. Mortality and death are topics which vocalist Mortuus has dealt with before in his other band/project Funeral Mist. And I suspect that Mortuus has written more than a few songs on this album since it has its signature style (he even plays bass and guitar on a few songs). Just listen to “Shovel Beats Sceptre,” that reminds me of “In Here” from the “Deiform” album of Funeral Mist (2021). The same goes for the melodic but so dark “As We Are,” where we can find the distorted guest vocals of L.G. Petrov (R.I.P.) and you will concur.
That said, “Memento Mori” still contains more than enough brutal and fast tracks which are performed with military precision. The title track builds up momentum and develops into a fast and intense song and has a demonical sense of urgency. It feels as if death itself is on your tail. The vocals from Mortuus are as dirty and intense as ever. He still is one of the best vocalists in the genre. And it must be said: the way Simon Schilling (ex-Belphegor, ex-Panzerchrist) is handling the drumkit is worth appraisal.
The tracks “Heart of the Funeral,” “Blood of the Funeral,” “Charlatan,” “Coffin Carol” and “Red Tree of Blood” show the furious side of Marduk. It could even be that some of the songs on this album are some of the fastest songs in their discography. The sheer terror will take some time to digest and be distinguished from each other.
I do get the impression that these songs are a bit uninspired, like a copy-paste from speed monsters of previous albums. On the other hand “Year of the Maggot” is really addictive with its hellish temperament and dark ambient/industrial intro and “Marching Bones” really marches over your grave and is over before you know it.
Personally, I appreciate the slower tracks more. “Shovel Beats Spectre” and closing track “As We Are” with its sinister and threatening guitar riffs and ditto, almost industrial, ambient sounds and spoken word section take me back to the excellent “Wormwood” album or the killer track song “Imago Amortis” (“Rom 5:12”).
But in the end, the quality and craftmanship presented on “Memento Mori” stands out. I have listened the album countless time in order to dissect them. I really enjoyed this album and kept on pressing the repeat button in order to give it another go.
And for a band which is running for more than thirty years that is something that should be admired. Marduk has delivered another album which is a welcome addition to their astonishing discography. While remaining true to their style, they do not shy from experimenting with the slower songs and let other influences seep in. In my opinion, this paves the way for another intriguing era of Marduk albums. I really look forward hearing these songs live on stage. But before I get the chance, I will enjoy this album one more time (and probably lots of times more). And you should too. Fans can purchase blindly. And I hope new fans will follow. Good stuff!
Label: Century Media Records
Release date: September 1 2023
Written by: Erik
- Memento Mori
2. Heart of the Funeral
3. Blood of the Funeral
4. Shovel Beats Sceptre
6. Coffin Carol
7. Marching Bones
8. Year of the Maggot
9. Red Tree of Blood
10. As We Are