Sweden’s Marduk has long been one of my favorite Black Metal acts. While they are rightly criticized for their overuse of blast-beats and other genre-specific tropes, their best work stands as some of the finest Black Metal produced. And though they have produced many many albums, some of which are difficult to distinguish from one another, others like Panzer Division Marduk, Opus Nocturne, and Plague Angel are definite classics. So with a new album out this year entitled Serpent Sermon, which way has the band turned? Have they crafted another memorable assault of Scandinavian Black Metal? Or have they merely created, well…just another Marduk album?
After a good listen, I can comfortably state that the album leans much more in the positive direction. From the very start, the title track engages the listener with an epic number that bears both a touch of intricacy, with a raw feel reminiscent of early Bathory and Celtic Frost. The band has loaded the rest of the album with a wealth of entertaining highlights. High-flying bursts like Messianic Pestilence and Damnation’s Gold would make a fantastic soundtrack to The Book of Revelation, and slower tracks Temple of Decay and World of Blades add an almost theatrical touch. Lead single Souls For Belial plays like a reprise to the classic Sulphur Souls. And while we’re on the topic of that song, I recommend you check out the music video below. Somehow the band takes the old, evil imagery of the genre and makes it un-ironically cool again!
Whether you a casual fan or long time devotee, you can tell the band made a conscious effort to create an album of ten well-written songs. In this effort, Marduk has accomplished much of what it set out to do, though the album does contain the expected overabundance of blast-beats at the expense of more memorable lyrics and riffs. However, Marduk has managed to use their well-tested style and apply it in a way that makes the entire album enjoyable from start to finish. Many other metal albums (not to mention a couple other Marduk albums…) could only dream of such consistency.
8 out of 10
Favorite Songs: Serpent Sermon, Messianic Pestilence, Souls for Belial, and World of Blades