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|3.||From Subterranean Throne Profound|
|5.||Materialized in Stone|
|6.||Untrodden Paths (Wolves Part II)|
|8.||Deme Quaden Thyrane|
|9.||The Sun Has Failed|
Review for 'Marduk - Opus Nocturne'
The definition of "Opus" when refering to creative works generally equates to the artist's "Greatest Work", and Marduk's brilliant 1994 album Opus Nocturne fits this description more than adequately. One can only suppose that, during the rehearsal sessions leading up to this album, they knew they had really nailed it and agreed upon the most fitting name for such a marvelous album.
Opus Nocturne is Marduk's third full length album, picking up right where it's predecessor Those Of The Unlight left off, with a few improvements that make it in our honest opinion their finest album to date, even though it's difficult to compare it to Marduk's more recent albums due to the gradual shift in style and overall sound that the Swedish veterans have undergone over the years.
First off, with the brief introduction track "The Appearance", Marduk use some minor keyboard passages to great effect in setting the mood and giving the whole album that small boost necessary to elevate it to a state of subtle epicness, successfully giving Opus Nocturne a sense of being born in an era long since forgotten, ancient and archaic.
The production values are perfectly balanced between "polished" and "raw", cleanly showcasing the band's new-found increase in speed and brutality, but maintaining all the while the old school roughness that one expects from any 1994 Black Metal album worth it's salt, with songs like "Sulphur Souls" and "From Subterranean Throne Profound" being perfect examples of this. As is to be expected, Marduk's founder, guitarist and main driving force Morgan Håkansson provides the listener with some amazing riffs that keep Opus Nocturne's atmosphere alive, constantly driving the album forward with some truly catchy songs, many of which still form part of Marduk's live performance routine to this day, including such classics as "Materialized In Stone" and "Untrodden Paths".
Curiously, "Materialized In Stone" is one of the stand-out tracks from Opus Nocturne, having a much slower tempo and showing that the musicians are perfectly capable of shifting gears and gradually building up the atmosphere and create an ancient landscape instead of simply enforcing it through speed and aggression in typical Marduk fashion. The song's title was originally intended to be used by Per Yngve "Dead" Ohlin", singer for Norwegian Black Metal pioneers Mayhem on their debut full length album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, however Dead changed the title to "From The Dark Past", and Marduk adopted the previous title for their own use in tribute to Dead after the he commited suicide in April 1991. Also, some of the lyrics for "Materialized In Stone" are extracted from the novel "Varney the Vampire" by James Malcolm Rymer.
For all the amazing guitar work provided by Morgan as well as the flawless drumming by Fredrik Andersson, what really gives this album it's unique touch is the astounding vocal performance by Joakim Göthberg, which combined with a minor, barely perceptible echo, give the album a feel that is nothing short of mythological. It should be noted that Opus Nocturne is populated with countless details and unforgettable moments, especially in the guitar department, more so than any other Marduk album to date.
So there you have it, a true opus. Opus Nocturne is one of Sweden's classic Black Metal releases, and Marduk's finest hour.
What other albums sound similar to this?
Thanks to Marduk's discography spanning more than two decades, there are a few Marduk albums out there that sound similar to Opus Nocturne. Most notably, their previous album Those Of The Unlight from 1993 has an almost equal style and shares the same songwriting structures and overall atmosphere, as does their follow up album Heaven Shall Burn... When We Are Gathered, released in 1996, although the latter has a slight increase in heaviness and aggression, which may or may not be what you're looking for.
As for other Black Metal bands with similar sounding albums to Marduk's Opus Nocturne, your first stop should be fellow Swedish Black Metal veterans Dissection's Storm Of The Light's Bane and The Somberlain albums, and also Enthroned's awesome debut, Prophecies Of Pagan Fire. You should also check out Dark Funeral, specifically their debut self-titled EP Dark Funeral, and their first two full length albums The Secrets Of The Black Arts and Vobiscum Satanas, from 1996 and 1998 respectively. Also worth mentioning are one of Mexico's finest Black Metal bands, Forest Of Doom. Some other notable bands out there that play Black Metal in the vein of Opus Nocturne are Setherial, Infinity, Cirith Gorgor and Ragnarok, with more emphasis on each band's early works.
In a nutshell...
If my excessive use of adjectives hasn't already convinced you that Opus Nocturne is worth every majestic second, then maybe you should just consider the cold hard fact that this is basically Marduk's best release ever, and that says a lot for a band that has produced no less than 12 full length albums and countless EPs in their 22 year history. With a perfect balance between slow and fast, brutal and melodic, sinister and beautiful, this is what Black Metal is all about. It really has to be heard to be believed, creating an atmosphere that even Pagan Black Metal fans will find surprisingly dense, and as with all of their early works, Opus Nocturne bears little resemblance to their modern day sonic blitzkriegs.
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