Swedish Black Metal legends Marduk are probably, together with Venom and Bathory, the most well known and internationally recognized Black Metal band that is not from Norway.
The Early Years
Marduk, who's name represents one of the ancient Mesopotamian gods that was the patron deity of the city of Babylon in the 18th century BC, was formed in 1990 by guitarist Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson, who is currently the only remaining original member of the band.
Morgan's intentions upon founding Marduk were to create "the most brutal and blasphemous metal act ever", something which is clearly reflected with the music, lyrics and cover art of their first demo, appropriately titled Fuck Me Jesus, which was recorded at Gorysound Studios and released in June 1991. Fuck Me Jesus has since been re-released three times by Osmose Productions, in 1995, 1999 (including 3 bonus tracks) and again in 2006. The re-released EP was banned in seven countries due to the explicit artwork featured on the cover.
Shortly afterwards, during the remaining months of 1991 Marduk began playing their first concerts, and also recorded the Here's No Peace EP, although it was never officially released to the public until 1997, instead being limited to "underground" distribution during this time.
Over the course of four days during the summer of 1992, Marduk recorded their first full length album titled Dark Endless, at Hellspawn Studios, combining the raw aggression and blasphemy of Black Metal with the technicality of Death Metal into a solid hybrid with it's own distinct sound. This is the only album to feature Andreas Axelsson as vocalist and Rikard Kalm playing Bass. Dark Endless was re-released in 2006 by Regain Records with several bonus tracks and a slight alteration to the tracklist, dividing the first track "Still Fucking Dead (Here's No Peace)" into the Intro "The Eye of Funeral" followed by "Still Fucking Dead". Throughout 1992 Marduk performed many concerts all over Sweden, gradually increasing their followers and fanbase.
Defining Their Sound
During the following year Marduk recorded their first pure Black Metal album titled Those Of The Unlight, and released it in October 1993. This is the last album by Marduk to feature Joakim Göthberg on drums, as he would change over to vocal duties on their next album. Magnus "Devo" Andersson, who played guitar on this album, would later leave the band, only to return in 2004 as bass player. An interesting sidenote about Those Of The Unlight is that one of the song titles, "Burn My Coffin", was originally intented to be used by Mayhem's singer and songwriter Per Yngve "Dead" Ohlin on their 1994 masterpiece album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, however the title was changed shortly before he died in 1991, and Marduk adopted the song title for their own use.
1994 is considered by many to be a landmark year in Black Metal, with many bands releasing some of their finest works during this period, and Marduk were by no means an exception with the release of their third full length album titled Opus Nocturne. This album featured a slight increase in the speed of the music, which would eventually evolve into their trademark sound on all later releases. Further extending their relationship with Norwegian legends Mayhem, Marduk used the song title "Materialized in Stone" which was discarded by Per Yngve "Dead" Ohlin in favour of "From The Dark Past" for use on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which was also released in 1994. Opus Nocturne was released by Osmose Productions on December 1st 1994, and re-released together with several other Marduk albums by Regain Records in 2006.
In April 1994 Marduk also performed their first concert abroad in Oslo, Norway, and shortly after embarked on their first European Tour, appropriately named "Sons Of The Northern Darkness". This was followed by a second European Tour in early 1995 named "Winter War", and their first concert in the Americas where they played in Mexico City in June 1995. Mexico would gradually form one of Marduk's strongest and most dedicated fanbases, with the band always looking forward to playing there for the loyal fans.
Entering The Abyss
In January 1996 Marduk entered "The Abyss" recording studios in Pärlby, Sweden, operated by legendary musician Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy fame, to record their fourth full length album titled Heaven Shall Burn... When We Are Gathered. This album is the first to feature Legion as vocalist, who would remain as Marduk's singer for the next 7 years. Heaven Shall Burn... When We Are Gathered is also the first Marduk album to showcase their increased speed and brutality from start to finish, which has remained as one of their signature characteristics to this day. The album was released in June 1996, with the title of the album being in reference to the lyrics of the Bathory song "Dies Irae", from their 1988 album Blood Fire Death.
During 1996 Marduk also released their first EP titled Glorification, featuring cover songs of German pioneers Destruction, Canadian metal veterans Piledriver and fellow Swedish legends Bathory, as well as a remix of the song "Glorification Of The Black God" from their recent Heaven Shall Burn... When We Are Gathered full length album.
In September 1996 Marduk embarked on their most extensive European tour to date, and the following year released their first Live recording aptly named Live In Germania, with recordings from 4 concerts played in Germany during said European tour. In 1997 they returned to Germany to play a live show with the Norwegians Mayhem at their reunion concert, among others.
Blood, War & Death
In 1998 Marduk returned to "The Abyss" studio to begin recording their fifth studio album titled Nightwing, with the line-up remaining exactly the same as on their previous full length album. This album was divided into two parts or "chapters", with the first half of the album being notably faster and aggressive than the second half which is much heavier and slower. The lyrical themes of Nightwing revolve around "blood", and more specifically in the second chapter around Vlad 'Tepes' Drakul, more commonly known as Vlad the Impaler. This would mark the beginning of Marduk's "Blood, War & Death" trilogy - their understanding of the concept of Black Metal - with their following albums Panzer Division Marduk and La Grande Danse Macabre representing "War" and "Death" respectively.
To support the release of Nightwing, Marduk participated in several festivals and tours including the No Mercy Festival and the Black Metal Assault Tour during the Autumn of 1998.
In 1999, Marduk increased the tempo, both in their presence at numerous festivals around the world and literally in their music, with the release of their sixth full length album titled Panzer Division Marduk, also recorded at "The Abyss" studio in Sweden. This album was the second part in their "Blood, War & Death" trilogy, representing "War" in a rather obvious manner. A common misconception about Marduk and Black Metal in general due to the visual aspects of the genre is the association to National Socialist ideologies, and the artwork and lyrical themes for Panzer Division Marduk, all related to the Second World War, prompted many neo-Nazis to consider Marduk as part of their movement. However, vocalist Legion and guitarist/founder Morgan publicly debunked this rumor, stating that "Marduk has no political point in their lyrics, and the band has nothing to do with Nazi views".
Throughout 1999 Marduk performed an endless number of concerts around the globe, headlining festivals in Scandinavia, Japan, Greece, Germany and several other European countries, including a 7 week tour during the Autumn.
In 2000 Marduk released their third EP titled Obediance, which featured a Celtic Frost cover, as well as their second Live album titled Infernal Eternal, which was recorded in France during their World Panzer Battle Tour. This marked their change from Osmose Productions to Regain Records. Marduk continued to do extensive tours including a 2 week tour of Mexico and a short tour with US Death Metal acts Deicide and Cannibal Corpse, as well as playing in many Summer festivals like Wacken Open Air, With Full Force and Waldrock. Another notable mention in their ever growing list of concerts is a 10-year celebration show played in their hometown Norrköping, Sweden, on the night of Halloween, 2000.
During December of 2000, Marduk entered the studio once again and began recording their seventh full length album, La Grande Danse Macabre, which was released during March 2001 and brought their "Blood, War & Death" trilogy to a close, although giving a promising start to the new millenium. This is Marduk's last full length album to feature Fredrik Andersson on drums, who would stay with the band for just one more year before leaving, completing almost a decade of drumming for Marduk. La Grande Danse Macabre is one of Marduk's greatest albums yet, with equal amounts of pure aggression, excellent riffs and some slower, heavier passages spread throughout.
Before recording another full length album, in 2002 Marduk took some time to concentrate on the release of their 100 minute Box Set compilation titled Blackcrowned, featuring previously unreleased versions of some of the best songs of their career recorded at Bloodspawn Studios and The Abyss between 1992 and 2001, and limited to 10.000 copies. Marduk also participated in several tours and festivals, including a 31 show European tour and also a tour of the US together with Deicide. Shortly after this, Fredrik Andersson left Marduk and was replaced by Emil Dragutinovic in preparation for their next studio album.
World Funeral, Marduk's eighth full lenght album, was released in March 2003 by Regain Records and marked a distinct change in sound in comparison to their previous work, with a more artificial feel to the guitars and an abundance of slower drumming spread throughout the album which was met with criticism by some fans, while others praised the change in direction. To be honest, the "changes" we're hardly worth complaining about, as the overall result was a very solid album, with an interesting variation between fast and slow tracks, and with some great songs in both categories, such as Hearse, for which Marduk made a video. Also worth mentioning is the instrumental track "Blackcrowned" which is a version of of "Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary" by English composer Henry Purcell. World Funeral was the last Marduk album to feature veteran singer Legion on vocals, who would be replaced by Mortuus by the beginning of 2004.
During 2003 after the release of World Funeral, Marduk completed a 31 concert European Tour and in October made a return to the Americas, this time touring extensively through Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Argentina and Mexico.
For Marduk's ninth full length album Plague Angel, Magnus "Devo" Andersson, who had previously played guitar for Marduk from 1992 to 1994, returned to the band to play bass guitar, as well as providing the Endarker Studio for recording purposes. Released in 2004 by Regain Records, Plague Angel marked the first album featuring vocalist Mortuus, also known as Arioch from the bands Funeral Mist and Triumphator. Upon switching vocalist, Marduk also underwent some changes in the lyrical content of their songwriting from Plague Angel onwards, from a more "Blood, Death & War" approach to a more "biblical violence" theme, due to Mortuus being more interested and inspired by the stories of extreme violence presented in the Bible. One month later Marduk released their fourth EP titled Deathmarch, featuring some alternative versions and rehearsals of songs recorded for Plague Angel.
To celebrate 15 years of Marduk, in 2006 the Swedes released their third Live album to date, named Warschau, which was recorded during a concert held in 2005 in Warsaw, Poland. There is also a limited edition including a DVD with additional live performances.
For their tenth full length studio recording released in 2007 and titled Rom 5:12 in reference to a verse from the book of Romans in the new testament, Marduk counted with the collaboration of Industrial band Arditi on one of the instrumental tracks, vocalist Alan Averill from Irish band Primordial, and last but not least Joakim Göthberg who had previously played drums on several of Marduk's early albums as well as providing vocal duties on their 1994 album Opus Nocturne. During the recording of Rom 5:12, long time member Emil Dragutinovic was replaced with Lars Broddesson as full time drummer.
Throughout 2007 and 2008 Marduk toured extensively around the globe, including numerous concerts in Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Australia, Macedonia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, as well as appearing at an endless amount of festivals including Metal Mania, Hellfest, Metalcamp, Kaltenbach, Allience Fest, Summer Breeze, Sweden Rock Festival, Metaltown Festival and the Waldrock Open Air, finally ending 2008 with a 22 concert European tour alongside US Death Metal legends Morbid Angel and several other bands.
Their next album, named Wormwood, was released in 2009 and marked Marduk's eleventh full length studio recording. The style of Black Metal in this release was in the same vein as that first put forth with Rom 5:12, although executed in a slightly more "planned ahead" manner. Curiously, with Wormwood Marduk reimplemented the alternation between fast and slow songs that they first used in World Funeral, although on this occasion the criticism was basically inexistent in comparison. A notable collaboration for this album is that the lyrics on the song "Phosphorus Redeemer" were written by Belfagor from Swedish Black Metal band Ofermod. Also, for the first time in almost 8 years, Marduk were able to return to the US for several shows, as well as venturing north for their first ever concerts in Canada.
20 Years & Beyond
The following year, marking Marduk's 20th anniversary, the band played in so many concerts and festivals around the world that their 2007-2008 effort seemed like a walk in the park. Host nations included Germany, Austria, Benelux, Ireland. UK, Sweden, Norway, Brazil, Argentina, Belarus, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Poland, Finland, Denmark, US, China, Thailand, Singapore And Indonesia.
In 2011 Marduk released their fifth EP titled Iron Dawn consisting of 3 new tracks, marking their final release through Regain Records after more than 10 years of collaboration. As usual, Marduk toured extensively, and occasionally teamed up with neighbouring Norwegian Black Metal legends Mayhem and fellow countrymen Nifelheim.
Most recently Marduk have just released their their twelfth full length album on the 25th of May 2012, titled Serpent Sermon, through Century Media, and judging by the preview on their official Youtube channel, will have a simlar sound as their last two efforts.
- Last updated by Imperator on January 1st, 2013 -
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