Marduk - Frontschwein 01Judging by what the almighty metal archives have to say, these melodic black metal Swedish juggernauts have been in existance since around the dawn of time when cantankerous dinosaurs were all that dared roam our crusty little planet. I can’t profess to having been a Marduk fan for even nearly that long, but back in 2012 when Serpent Sermon reared its ugly head, it became not only the biggest and baddest contender for the #1 spot on my Top Ten(ish) for the year, but in the  two years since, it’s remained in constant rotation on my day to day playlist. Prompted by my love of Serpent Sermon and a craving for more of Marduk‘s intense blackened melodies, I took the plunge and rediscovered some lost and forgotten greats like Those of the Unlight, Plague Angel and Wormwood and albums that proved a little tougher to get my head around, like their warring epic – Panzer Division. My excitement knew no bounds when I discovered Marduk had a new album to add to my collection, and here we have it! Frontschwein (literally translated as “front pig”) finds Marduk marching back into combat, returning to the warlike days of Panzer Division, but does it play to their tank-like strengths or end up a casualty of war, broken and cruelly dismantled on the battlefield?

“Welcome to the front. There is no salvation.” Never were truer words spoken. To provide you with a little background, Frontschwein explores the killing fields of World War II, from the title track telling of the daily hell on the frontline to the burning desert of “Afrika,” across the bloodsoaked ground in “Falaise: Cauldron Of Blood,” (the site of a murderous battle in Normandy/France), and ending on the Eastern front where war drums beat and the wheels of death grind onwards with a “Thousand-Fold Death.” Technically you’ve got it all in Frontschwein, machine-guns blazing, near-deafening explosions, the smell of rotting corpses, horrified faces frozen in place, Marduk brings you war and it’s not pretty. Kicking off the album, the title track has an underlying Behemoth-style melody overshadowed by the piss and vinegar and the orderly cockiness of a new battalion advancing headlong into battle. Blast beats bring to mind the incessant noise of machine gun fire, persistant, unforgiving, pausing only to reload. Guitar lines are melodic and catchy, rivalling the angry raspings for your attention. The conclusion you’ll arrive at, is that “Frontschwein” is a solid war anthem, and it’s a big pity that it’s followed by filler and the done before (“The Blond Beast” and “Afrika”).

Marduk - Frontschwein 02Fronschwein fails in playing to Marduk‘s strengths and can be broken up into two schools of thought. “Wartheland,” “Rope Of Regret,” “Nebelwerfer” and “503” feature the slower, darker and more deliberate side of Marduk that proved a huge draw for me in Serpent Sermon. These tracks are interesting, weighty and with minimal replay, leave behind their devilish mark. Unfortuantely these moments of greatness are broken up by the humdrum of “Between the Wolf-Packs,” “Falaise – Sauldron Of Blood” and “Thousand-Fold Death” that are mostly just wearing, uninspired and grimly monotonous.

The production on Marduk’s latest offering mimics the fine line that they walk between modern clarity, black metal authenticity and the mettle of the bands earlier works like Plague Angel, Rom 5:12, Wormwood and Serpent Sermon. The major difference between this release and those that came before is that Marduk are slowly but surely losing their attention to dynamics as they inch towards compressed brickwalling.

Though Frontschwein is in actual fact shorter than its predecessor, combined with the “been done before” feel of  half this battle, the poor dynamics and the emotionally wearing subject matter, the album feels tedious. Marduk would have been wise to follow the pattern of Panzer Division, limiting themselves to around eight tracks and a nice manageable half hour of raspy grit. Frontschwein fails to make it off the battlefield, ending up a casualty of their own war.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: MardukOfficial | Facebook.com/Marduk
Release Dates: EU: 2014.01.19 | NA: 01.27.2014

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  • Øystein Olav Skaar

    Tish and pish! Gadzooks! Milarky! How dare you say such a thing? Damn me, madam, if you’re not the worst kind of swine!

    • You mean a pearl before swine.

      • Øystein Olav Skaar

        The worst kind of pearl, then.

        • And you misspelled malarkey! For shame.

          • Øystein Olav Skaar

            Nonsense!

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Jiminy Crickets, let’s have some civility here! She’s a Metal Valkyrie par excellence.

      • Øystein Olav Skaar

        I say thee, nay! Madam X is a harbinger of bad news. There, take thou that till thou bring better news.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Mary…’Tis a saucy knave.

          • Shouldn’t we be talking like medieval fools under some Euro-power review like Kaledon instead of a Marduk review?

          • Monsterth Goatom

            I shall bow to your wisdom, Sir Druhm.

          • Øystein Olav Skaar

            Probably wise, and truth be told, I’ve had my fill of Blackadder quotes for the evening. Maybe Haggard will release Grimm at some point, I shall return then. …and Madam X, I was only having a jest.

          • Carry on :)

        • Madam X Harbringer of Bad News… as far as titles go that’s a winner in my books!

    • Norwegians are weird.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Something in the Gjetost, maybe.

      • Øystein Olav Skaar

        Hogwash. We’re mostly annoying and disagreeable, …or that might just be me. Anyway, I think the album is quite good, 3.5-4.0 range.

        • I think it’s pretty good, I’d go between 3 and 3.5. Weirdo.

          • Øystein Olav Skaar

            You’re the weirdo.

  • Soze

    I have slight old fart pedigree when it comes to Marduk, I’ve been a fan since Nightwing and absolutely adored Panzer Division. However I’ve never really loved much of the recent stuff and this new album, whilst ok, is not going to get many plays off me. I prefer Marduk when they go for broke (my favourite track on this is one you dismissed, Thousand-Fold Death, which is absolutely blistering!) but the slower stuff is tedious.

    • They have two very different directions that they follow, it’s great to see them trying to combine the two into a single album. I wish it had worked more successfully.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Oh curse the Law of Diminishing Recordings™! I always gets nervous when a great band on a hot streak announces a new record, wondering if the time has come for them to fall victim to the law. The odds, for example, of Taake releasing another great album are probably similar to those of a three-legged cat trying to bury a turd on a frozen pond.

    • I get into a cold sweat – a mixture of excitement and pure dread – for the very same reason! Damn that Law of Diminishing Recordings.

    • Um, Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™. kthx.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    It could be worse. They could have named the album “Hinterschwein”.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    I never got as much into Serpent Sermon as I wish I did. It had some great moments when the band actually sounded like they had written a riff sounded deliberately instead of the seemingly random insanity in a lot of the songs. I never agreed with the “it’s black metal, it’s supposed to be chaotic” sentiment. There is such a thing as “controlled chaos” and when they do that, I think they are at their best.

    • Their controlled chaos is what I enjoy most too.

  • I dunno, Madam X. I gotta say that what I’m hearing sounds pretty goddamned good to me. Good melody, cool production (despite the DR5) and some really solid writing as a rule. I’m gonna have to say that this is a 3 or a 3.5 in my book.

    • And holy fuck “Thousand-Fold Death” is goddamned amazing. What an incredible song!

      • Selim Baradan

        I agree 100% but your reviewer found that song “wearing, uninspired and grimly monotonous”. :)
        Madam X must have been doing something else while reviewing this album. I don’t think it’s that different from their last releases. Marduk consistently releases badass albums. 2.5 / 5 raiting is unfair.

        • The new album sounds amazing to me, almost as good as ‘Serpent Sermon’ which may have been my favorite of their career. Just a review from someone not inclined to like the band, it seems.

    • It is a solid 4 to me, but hey I’m really biased when it comes to Marduk.

      AND I like it a lot more than Serpent Sermon, which other than the amazing “Coram Satanae” didn’t really hold much of my attention nor memory.

    • My initial feeling was somewhere between a 3 and 3.4 but after spinning the album a bunch more and getting past my fangirlism the album didn’t hold up to that.

  • Wilhelm

    I really liked this one and I’m not usually a fan of Marduk (especially the last four or so recordings) although, I admit, it might be about 10 minutes too long. I thought the production was fitting, maybe not as dynamic as it could of been, but I was surprised at the DR5. My opinion after two listens is that this is a brutal and chaotic album, but with a good sense of melody and structure, which hasn’t always worked with Marduk.

    • I don’t get the chaos. I think it feels really directed, and even quite slow at times. But I loved the production, I was really surprised it was a DR5 as well. The sound works for the record and it has some solid tracks. Especially “Thousand-Fold Death.” Wow. That song.

  • Antonio Barrote

    I read the review and I respect your opinion… However, I strongly feel this album should have a 4. I am a huge Marduk fan since the days of “Opus Nocturne” and have been following them since then. I must admit I was very anxious for this last release and I love the final result. The production is very good, their songwriting is getting better and more mature and this is probably one of the most diverse albums they released.
    Favorite tracks: “Wartheland”, “Thousand-Fold Death”, “Frontschwein”… “Rope of Regret” is a killer song too (the drums are GREAT!!!)….

    Anyway, only my opinion. Marduk still rules!! m/

    • Marduk still most definitely rules.

  • El Lado Oscuro

    it is a so-so record, agree with review

  • andrew macdonald

    Whats with all the mid paced chugging? Although fine in parts, especially the couple of times where they have just bass and drums under the vocals, it soon grows tedious. The tedium is not helped by the album being at least 15 minutes to long. Marduk to me is head down, blisteringly fast Christ raping black metal and that is sadly lacking on this album. Not so much Fist fucking God’s Planet as boring it too death.Thousand-Fold Death is easily the best thing on the album. When they trailed the album with Rope of Regret I was really excited but sadly it’s a massive let down. Back to the last Belphegor album it is……

    • While this record is too long, I like the mid-paced chugging. I think it sounds good and it varies what inevitably becomes a monotonous blast-a-thon.

  • Doomdeathrosh

    I can understand the emotionally wearing subject, but thats what Marduk is good at. Another fact is the range of comments you see in the embed soundcloud….right for “Panzer Division strikes back” to “so gay”, with random foreign language insults in between!

  • Alexandre Barata

    Never got much of the hype with Marduk. Yes they’re a cool band, and one that has been in, and true to, the game for a long time. Also sometimes it feels just like they have so many albums recorded because they just re-record some of them, as most of their stuff sounds exactly the same.
    Obviously their 1st couple of albums are amazing, and I agree that Serpent Sermon is a very nice album. But for the songs I’ve been listening from this album, they’re all kinda dull. Better to waste my time listening to the new Chapel of Disease’s album then.

    • I think the word “hype” when it comes to Marduk does them a disservice. There’s no hype. Marduk has been a stellar black metal band for a long, long time. That their recordings have fallen off is inevitable, but it’s hardly hype that people get excited about their new records.

      • Alexandre Barata

        Regularly the word “hype” does a disservice to any quallity band. 10 years ago most BM fans saw Marduk as a solid band, a regular and quality BM band. Nowadays, on any BM forum, it’s like they’re the only good BM around (well, from the 2nd wave that might be true), much in the same sphere as Emperor when they got re-grouped, or Behemoth since Demigod. For me, that’s hype, and I can’t see their new album in the same light as if they weren’t “the shit”, it kinda spoils a solid band for me…

  • kmal666

    I don’t know… sounds like we listened to different albums. I thought this album kicked ass (except for 503 where I kinda lost interest) and was easily a 4. This might even top Wormwood which was a great record IMO.

    Also, Thousandfold Death – what. the. fuck?! That song is ridiculous I’ll be coming back again and again.

  • RagE

    I would be happy with an album consisting of just a 40 minute “Nebelwerfer” track.

  • Kathaarian

    I just registered to say this. God I am so angry right now.

    Marduk would have been wise to follow the pattern of Panzer Division…??!!!

    What the fuck? They should have followed suite with the worst album in their discography? Really? I wish you wrote this sentence as the title to the review so anyone would not waste 2 mins of their lives reading your opinions, which you are entitled to, but are invalidated by this horseshit of a statement.

    • Indeed, to each their own opinion right.

      For point of reference, my statement was in fact related to the number of tracks on Panzer and the duration of the album being considerably shorter than the currenct offering. By comparision Frontschwein feels excessively long.

      • Kathaarian

        Fair enough. No disrespect meant. I just always found it easier to sit through their longer stuff, combining the ferocious tracks with the mid tempo ones for room to breathe, rather than the constant buzzsaw riffs of panzer div. Don’t we have grindcore for that?

        • You make an interesting point.

  • KeCe86

    Although it probably will be an average album in the Marduk legacy. In black metal general speaking they come up with pleasend surprises on each album, with a “Thousand-Fold Death” on this one, oh my goodness! xD