WASHINGTON, July 2, 2011 - Sweden’s Marduk is comprised of hardened veterans from the Scandinavian heavy metal scene. Entering the fray in 1990, they’ve subsequently become synonymous with the chilling black metal genre they helped pioneer. Rather than sell out, break up, or change styles like many of their peers, Marduk have stuck to their guns and steadfastly fought against change.
More importantly, such consistency means enjoying this punishing quartet requires valuing experience over innovation. Listeners won’t get anything groundbreaking from Marduk, but they will hear utterly efficient, convincing performances. The band’s preoccupation with industrial warfare fits their sound well – the music is inhumanly lithe and precise to the point of mechanical. It’s a love-it or hate-it persona, and one “Iron Dawn” won’t make anyone outside the Marduk army suddenly want to enlist for.
Fans of the style, meanwhile, should prepare to give the victors their spoils. Introducing “Warshau II: Headhunter Halfmoon” is the wail of air raid sirens, and from there Marduk goes for the jugular. A whirlwind of speed-picked guitar notes duels with a deluge of blastbeat drumming, producing mania and chaos. The equally brief, breathless chorus still sticks out, however, given the band briefly pauses every time it begins. The end result is not unlike the gap between falling explosives in an aerial bombardment.
“Wacht Am Rhein: Drumbeats of Death” mixes sampled gunfire with an all-out assault of cyclonic melodies and pounding percussion. In between the band’s blitzkrieg, lapses of ominous riffs and eerie vocals provide a jarring contrast. Add in some fiendish catchiness, and this is easily the EP’s best song.
Last but not least is “Prochorovka: Blood and Sunflowers,” an unnerving number heralded by falsely cheerful singing. Drumbeats soon plod relentlessly beside stark, hazy guitars that hang like smog over the proceedings. Dark and dreary, it’s a song that grinds like tank treads and unnerves like casualty reports from the frontlines. It also gives “Iron Dawn” greater depth, letting Marduk explore their style at a slower speed.
With all this in mind, “Iron Dawn” is thus an effective EP but hard truly loving given its teaser status. It’s a promising taste of things to come – hinting of gunpowder and engine oil – but one that’s tantalizing at best. Consider this a well-aimed opening salvo, but one that’s part of a bigger, better battle to come.
“Warshau II: Headhunter Halfmoon”
“Wacht Am Rhein: Drumbeats of Death”
“Prochorovka: Blood and Sunflowers”
Rating: 7 out of 10.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.