Serpent Sermon

Written by: AP on 30/07/2012 22:22:26

When, in 1990, guitarist Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson conceived Marduk, his intention was to form the most blasphemous band in the world. His ambition originally manifested itself as blackened death metal, but across two decades and eleven studio albums the band's musical style has evolved into a fast and intense form of black metal quite similar to 1349. In that regard, "Serpent Sermon", the band's twelth album thus far adds few new nuances to the palette of rampant and erratic devilry for which Marduk is known. But it takes no time whatsoever to establish that despite showing few signs of progression, all is well, as Marduk are still gushing out some of the most pulverizing black metal on the planet.

The beginning of the album, comprising "Serpent Sermon", "Messianic Pestilence", "Souls for Belial" and particularly "Into Second Death", is absolutely merciless; stricken with freezing tremolo ridden melodies, ghastly shrieks and rapid fire percussion that envelops each song in an atmosphere of cold, savagery and grandeur. And it is not until track five, "Temple of Decay", that Marduk offers any sort of relief, though the use of such a word to describe the brooding malevolence and slow-burning tempo of this song is debatable. What is not up for debate, however, is how instant the feeling that in "Serpent Sermon", Marduk have written a truly powerful album is.

But while I stand by my statement that Marduk have not deviated much from the original plan, there are of course subtle differences present to prove that this is indeed a new album, and not a simple recycling of old material. "Serpent Sermon" demonstrates a more pronounced emphasis on dynamic melodicism and rhythmic variations, as evident on not just the slower "Temple of Decay", but also in the mid- and bridge sections of songs such as "World of Blades" and "Coram Satanae". It sounds as though Marduk have reined in the vitriolic side of their sound somewhat to allow moods to develop and linger. In this respect the more straightforward assaults "Hail Mary (Piss-Soaked Genuflexion)" and "Gospel of the Worm" seem almost redundant - they're both great songs to be sure, but would make more suitable additions to older Marduk albums.

Another great aspect to "Serpent Sermon" is the production, which sacrifices neither the audability of each instrument - allowing, for instance, the excellent bass playing of Magnus Andersson (alias Devo) on a song like "World of Blades" to permeate the mix with perfect clarity; nor the integrity of the music. Marduk are, after all, traversing true black metal territory, where modern productions tricks are often shunned upon as unnecessary gimmicks. And even better: where in most reviews the vocalist would be said to add colour and personality to the music, here it is more apt to describe the role of Daniel Rostén (also known by his alias Mortuus) as poisoning the atmosphere with venomous gnarrs, croaks and screeches, thus affording songs like "Damnation's Gold" their demonic, and to be quite frank, frightening character. This feeling of ice crystals forming on your eardrums is further amplified by hellishly rasping spoken word sections and noxious tirades, such as on the already mentioned "Souls for Belial" and "M.A.M.M.O.N." - it does not get much more diabolical than this.


Download: Serpent Sermon, Souls for Belial, Temple of Decay, World of Blades
For the fans of: 1349, Dark Funeral, Gorgoroth, Watain
Listen: Facebook

Release date 28.05.2012
Blooddawn Productions / Century Media Records

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