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Marduk: Plague Angel

Sweden has been the homeland of death metal of all kinds: old school death, thrash death, melodic death, etc. They have produced dozens of great bands leaving the black metal industry to their Norwegian neighbours. However, one Swedish band refused to jump on the bandwagon and be another Entombed, At the Gates, or even Dark Tranquillity ripoff: the one and only Bathory playing a strict form of old school black metal. Yet, if there is another band from Sweden that made a name for themselves (be it good or bad), that must be Marduk. This band has been around for over a decade, creating much controversy with their first couple of releases, especially their infamous demos. Marduk has always been a pioneer of black metal in the Swedish underground scene and they sure deserve respect for that.

Plague Angel is their last studio album as of now, considering they just released the Deathmarch EP and a live DVD after this one. The album also marks a completely new era for these Swedish veterans. Long-time vocalist Legion and bassit B. War are out. They are replaced by the band's first guitarist Devo Anderson (who also produced the album) from about ten years ago and new singer Mortuus of Funeral Mist. For starters, Mortuus is a totally different singer than Legion, and he will fairly or unfairly be compared to his predecessor, labeled as either a horrible singer or an excellent replacement. That has always been the fate of Marduk, their albums, songs, lyrics, member changes, and history. People either hate their guts or praise them to heavens (!). I'll be the first to say Mortuus' raw, beast-like vocals certainly bring a new air of freshness, as he screams and blurts out the lyrics with the utmost conviction. On songs like the compact "Steel Inferno" and the tremelo-picked old school black piece "Life's Emblem", his vocals are arguably more powerful and effective than Legion's, especially on the last couple of Marduk discs. The production is raw and evil. Gone is the clean, sterile production of Marduk's last set of releases mixed in the Abyss Studios. The drumming is sick and fast; the riffs are violent with occasional clean guitar breakdowns and epic overtones. One of the darkest and most absorbing songs is "Throne of Rats", as the song breathes atmosphere, just like in the early 90's black metal albums. "Perish in Flames" will certainly cause more discussion among fans, for its extended build-up and extraordinary chord progressions. The song is epic-sounding, and simply huge in its scope. The riffs are noticably slower and a bit sludgier than their other work, enhanced with pure and raw shrieking. Another lengthy piece is the last cut "Blutrache" (Blood Revenge) with weird sound effects, atmospherics, and a sudden burst into one of the most uncompromising Marduk songs in a long time.

Though described as "a new era of songwriting", I beg to differ. Plague Angel is no where near as surprising or groundbreaking as the older albums. It is, however, strongly written, produced and delivered, just as many fans had expected.

Track Listing

  1. Hangman of Prague
  2. Throne of Rats
  3. Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets
  4. Life's Emblem
  5. Steel Inferno
  6. Perish in Flames
  7. Holy Blood, Holy Grail
  8. Warschau
  9. Deathmarch
  10. Everything Bleeds
  11. Blutrache

Added: April 8th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Marduk website
Hits: 3630
Language: english

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