MARDUK – World Funeral

With the release of Panzer Division Marduk back in 1999, this Swedish four-piece set new standards of extremity by pushing the genre as far as possible in terms of speed and aggression. As a result, many long-time fans were somewhat disappointed by the slower tempos and restrained delivery found on their last studio album, La Grande Danse Macabre. This seemed to be a step back for a band known for plowing through anything in their path. But with the release of World Funeral, MARDUK seems hell-bent on recapturing the intensity of the classic Panzer album, and on many levels the band succeeds, beginning with the full-on assault of opening track “With Satan and Victorious Weapons,” as well as the punishing attack of “Cloven Hoof” and the title track. Inexplicably however, the band returns to some plodding, slower material akin to their last record, which unfortunately tends to bring down the momentum of the album. But just when things start to drag, the band comes back blasting the listener at full-force and speed with new drummer, Emil Dragutinovic leading the way. He does an excellent job of replacing the departed Fredrik Andersson. Even though there are more fast songs than their previous outing, the slower songs, such as the crushing “Bloodletting” as well as the slower breakdowns found on “Hearse” and “Night of the Long Knives” display a new found maturity as well as stronger sense of songwriting than their previous work. So all in all, the band doesn’t fully capture the extremity of Panzer Division Marduk (few albums do), but come pretty damn close at times. And with the vast improvements in production, songwriting, and aggression departments, World Funeral is an excellent return to form from one of the few true leaders of the black metal scene. (Regain-The End)

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