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Saturday 7 July 2018

Reviews: Marduk, Tenebra Arcana, Impending Doom (Reviews By Sean)

Marduk: Viktoria (Century Media Records)

Ah, Marduk. Marduk FUCKING Marduk. What more can there be said about the stalwart Swedes? They love Satan, WW2, they don’t make bad albums and they’re absolutely unyielding in their quest to blast beat all into oblivion. With his brutal battalion in tow, Morgan Hakansson and company have been forging black metal artillery for more than 20 years. Opener Werwolf leads the charge with it’s punkish Bathory gallop, transitioning into prime Marduk territory with June 44 with their trademark blasting propelling them onward. Viktoria bellows war cry after war cry, briefly slowing down with Tiger 1 and it’s intermittent volley of blasting.

Ever on fine form is vocalist Morutus, vomiting forth blasphemous war commands and reaffirming that his shredded rasps are amongst the mightiest in black metal. Narva continues the assault and Viktoria never relents, with The Last Fallen displaying what a beast Frederik Widigs is behind the kit. Title track Viktoria and The Devils Song continues the onslaught, culminating in the funereal dirge of Silent Night. I exhale and reflect.

Look, I like Marduk and Viktoria is in no way a bad album. Far from it in fact, Marduk just don’t make bad albums. Serpent Sermon’s ferocity and Rom 5:12’s versatility perfectly showcase some their finest attributes. But this time around? It feels ever so slightly……flat, never fully grabbing as it should despite the savagery on display. Compared to previous excursions, Viktoria is content to blast away and exhibit the stripped down basics of a well honed sound. Whilst it is not as memorable as previous efforts it is neither their worst, if anything Viktoria is a solid reminder of what made Marduk great in the first place. You know exactly where you are with Marduk, which is quite a comfort in a genre that is constantly shifting and reshaping itself. 

At album number 14, Marduk aren’t going alter their formula too much and they’ve never really had to. Why should they? It has served them well over the years, ensuring that I and many more will forever be loyal to their cause. Whilst it doesn’t surprise, it never bores and there’s enough here to satisfy even the most fanatic of Marduk's already rabid fanbase. For me? Not their strongest effort, but a solid album nonetheless. With the Swedish war-machine showing no signs of relenting anytime soon, with Viktoria displaying that the grizzled old panzer has plenty of firepower to spare. Long live
Marduk. 7/10

Tenebra Arcana: Luna (Self Released)

Symphonic black metal is deceptively hard to pull off. Striking a fine line between the metallic and orchestral takes a deft hand, lest it descend into schlocky silliness. A fine line to tread indeed, given how easy it is to have one overpower the other. So on this, their debut EP, do the young Italian quintet successfully navigate their way to glory?

Sweeping intro Darkness Fall conjures enough atmosphere before The Fall breaks the sombre reverie. Aside form the slightly wonky usage of the synths and dragging its feet towards the end, it’s a solid opener though there are hints of greater things to follow. Tenebre Arcana begins with such a strong lead, it undermines the rest of the song until some ferocious traditional riffing brings it back again. Solid once more, yet not quite achieving the epic heights the band have set their sights on. Once again, traces of something….powerful lurks in the deep. I begin to feel a touch frustrated at this point. It’s competent, yet slightly unremarkable and I can’t help but feel the Tenebre Arcana are holding something back. And then Luna blows me away.

Title/4th track Luna, the strongest track on this EP, showcases a sudden compositional maturity absent on the previous tracks. Downplaying the gothic elements of previous excursions, Tenebre Arcana finally take flight. Every element seamlessly fused into a muscular display of blackened symphonic power. The riffs are searing and icy, (reminiscent of DAWN) elevated to greater power by synths as neither buckles under the others weight. Synergy is achieved, the final form attained! Outro Ecater Mater Nocte finishes the epic journey, bringing a promising prologue to a close. It may have been a rocky beginning but Luna displays what the band are truly capable of, what they can achieve if they tap into their latent might. With a little time and finesse, who knows how much mightier they will become. 7/10

Impending Doom: The Sin And Doom Vol. II (eOne Records)

Ah, deathcore. death metals younger sibling. A much maligned genre, sneered as inferior by the trve and the old school. A genre that I thought had faded into obscurity, turning out to be very much still in existence. Fuck, I sound jaded. I must confess that I’ve never been keen on it, ever. So, will Californian Christian deathcore troupe Impending Doom usher in a new era of genre enlightenment? Let us begin, let us delve into their latest offering The Sin And Doom Vol II.As I reflect upon my experience with Impending Doom, I am left with a sense of emptiness. The band, whom are comfortable in their own style, wish to bludgeon and write a decent ditty in veneration of their beliefs. Regardless of their intention, I am left with that hallow feeling deathcore bequeathed unto me all those years ago. Emptiness at it’s vapidity and restraint. Emptiness at the bands bread and butter, as its neither nourishing or tantalising to a death metaller like me. Too often do Impending Doom rely on worn out deathcore tropes, never really fully brandishing that raw killer instinct other extreme genres do with such ease.

Is it flawlessly executed? Absolutley, the production making things tighter then a nuns nether regions. But for all their roaring and religious zeal, it all feels…..soulless and lacking. This will never be for me but then again, maybe it never was. More power to you. Me? I will never see their light or “gorship”, worshipping the lord with gory lyrics, as they would describe it. I remain bound to the Left Hand Path, forever worshipping at the Altar Of Madness. After all, the devil has the best tunes. 4/10

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