Posts Tagged ‘Marduk’

The Lords of the Land festival in Glasgow has some serious issues to contend with this year. First of all, how was the lineup ever going to match last year’s Carcass/Obituary/Napalm Death/Voivod magic? And secondly the small matter of the Heavy Scotland event in Edinburgh on the same weekend, featuring Grave, Arch Enemy and Behemoth, as well as others. Well, the lineup proved to be as competitive, if not superior, as you could want. I mean, black metal and death metal legends colliding with thrash and even a bit of grind and doom. FUCK YEAH! The old Barrowland ballroom played host once again.

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Opening at the unbearable 12:30pm slot, Rotten Sound were fucking ace. The half hour slot is designed for grindcore bands, and Rotten Sound played to an impressively full Barrowlands considering the time of day. They were sharp, visceral and, best of all, allowed me the opportunity to get a hold of an HM-2 pedal tribute shirt. Killer start to the day, that only improved with the advent of Memoriam. Coming from a guy who named his blog and inspiration after a Bolt Thrower song,  I can honestly say that Memoriam are more than worthy successors to the crown. Karl Willets was in fine form, and massive riffs cascaded upon us lucky few. Willets remarked that this was a celebration of life through death metal, and nothing is more true.

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Next up was the hilarious vitality of Acid Reign, old school British thrash that felt so alive and vital it made me smile. So did the stage banter, with ‘Hello Edinburgh’ getting a particular chuckle. They were high energy, frontman H racing around the stage, encouraging all kinds of crowd participation and almost shitting himself when caught stagediving and taken to the back of the room before being ran forward and chucked back onto the stage. Mental. Mental is also how you would describe the aural waves of terrifying brutality emanating from Dragged into Sunlight, who took the stage behind clouds of smoke and a ghostly, huge candelabra. Their blackened sludgey noise was fearsome, and the fact that the band spent the whole show with their backs to us added to the esoteric mystery surroundng them.

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I took a break from the action during Venom Inc, so I couldn’t pass comment on them but I got back just in time for Marduk’s ‘Heaven Shall Burn’ set which, like every Marduk show, was full throttle black metal of war and darkness. Yet again I had the pleasure of getting ‘Accuser/Opposer’ with Nemtheanga live, and they closed with ‘Panzer Division Marduk’! Speaking of Primordial, they have become a band that have transcended beyond what we would consider simply ‘pagan black metal’, becoming the embodiment of what Bathory strode towards. Nemtheanga’s vocals command immediate attention, like a monstrous and apocalyptic preacher. The stunning ‘Babel’s Tower’ and the enthralling ‘The Coffin Ships’ were particular highlights in a flawless set of blackened doom grandeur.

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The stage darkens, smoke billows from under the drumkit and deep, blue lights shroud the oncoming storm of black metal perfection that is Mayhem, and ‘De Mysteriis de Satanas’ complete. Worth the price of admission alone, the howling ‘Freezing Moon’ and savage ‘Pagan Fears’ remind you about how all black metal owes so much debt to this record. Atilla Csihar’s vocals sound like the voice of Satan himself, and draped in a black cloak and then as a demonic priest, he embodies the dark magic infusing each frozen riff. Hw can anyone follow this?

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Well, Autopsy with every vintage death metal riff ever just about managed. You don’t realise just how much they’ve influenced the genre, until you think about how every ‘old school’ death metal band basically stole everything fom them. Rabid fury crashes into sludgey, evil riffs while vomitous vocals spill from behind Chris Reifert’s drumkit. Despite the fact that we are approaching 11 hours into the day, I think that this was the best moment of the night. Tiredness overwheming us, the first time these legends have graced Scottish shores in 27 years mean that we were reinvigorated enough to show them our appreciation.What a fucking triumph.

Let me preface this review by saying that I went to this gig for Immolation, not for Marduk. It’s not that I am not a big fan of the black metal war machine, but I originally bought a ticket on the fact that Immolation were playing, not realising who the headliner was. The fact that Marduk and Origin turned out to also be on the bill was a bonus! I was to be reminded what a potent live act Marduk were this warm night in Glasgow.

But first, Origin. Due to traffic issues, I had missed first band Bio-Cancer which I was disappointed by but I heard good things so I’ll look them up in the next few days. Origin are a band I don’t know a lot of stuff by, but they did play a number of tracks from the album I do have, ‘The Antithesis’. They were brutally tight, and technically dazzling, particularly during the devastating ‘Wrath of Vishnu’. Frontman Jason Keyser was insistent on getting a pit going, and even invoked a black metal vs death metal Wall of Death at the end. Short but brutally sweet.

Immolation are one of those bands that, like Incantation, I’ve never had the chance to see live until this year. I’ve been on a bit of a quest to see bands I’ve not had a chance to before this year, and Immolation were rather high on that list. Their brand of dense, holy fucking shit heaviness was muchly appreciated, and they brought a range of material from the vintage ‘Father You’re Not a Father’ to the crushing ‘Echoes of Despair’ and the title track to their last record, ‘Kingdom of Conspiracy’. Ross Dolan assures us that a new record is coming in November, which means hopefully we won’t have to wait another 9 years for them to return to Scotland. Unfathomably heavy death metal from these almost 30 year New York veterans.

Marduk reaffirmed for me last night just why I should’ve been more excited to see them again. Last time I saw them here was supporting the ‘Wormwood’ record with Anaal Nathrakh as support, and they were as devastating then as they are now, a furious fire breathing entity of hate and blasphemy. Shrouded in smoke, their savage classics like ‘Still Fucking Dead’ and ‘Panzer Division Marduk’ tore through the sea of horns raised before them. More modern cuts like the excellent ‘Throne of Rats’ and the ripping ‘Wartheland’ from last year’s ‘Frontschwein’, a record I haven’t had a lot of time with yet, showcase the band’s primal rage and easily slot in amongst the classics. I went to this gig for Immolation, but I came home blasting Marduk in the car. Supreme, extreme majesty from all bands tonight!

I’ve had to combine a few days here into one post because I got through one record on Sunday, none yesterday but a few tonight. Trying to keep a track of what you listen to each day isn’t that difficult, but finding time to write a blog on them is becoming a challenge. Ok, so the last few days have consisted of the following:

Burzum – Hvis Lyset Tar Oss

Annotations of An Autopsy – Before the Throne of Infection

Blind Guardian – A Night at the Opera

Marduk – Rom 5:12

Angelus Apatrida – Clockwork

Blind Guardian – Nightfall in Middle Earth

Incantation – Onwards to Golgotha

Sunday I gave up music time to watching Wrestlemania 30. I kinda wish I’d stuck to music afterwards but that’s for another time. ‘Hvis Lyset Tar Oss’ was one of Varg’s last decent records with Burzum before he disappeared into ambient nonsense. In fact, until some of his newer stuff (‘Belus’ and ‘Fallen’ in particular), I struggled to like Burzum outside the debut and ‘Filosefem’. Annotations of an Autopsy started off as a mediocre deathcore band before becoming a rather good death metal band. ‘Before the Throne of Infection’ is rather samey deathcore, but as a debut record it wasn’t too bad. I do however, thoroughly enjoy the track ‘Sludge City’, which includes the refrain “she bled from every fucking hole!” It’s metal.

Blind Guardian is a no brainer for me. They’ll always be one of my favourite bands, one of the early pure metal bands I liked and ‘Nightfall…’ is a genre classic. ‘A Night at the Opera’ is overblown and over produced, but full of cracking songs. Marduk pull no punches with ‘Rom 5:12’, but started to show signs of the slightly more twisted, less full throttle approach that ‘Wormwood’ and ‘Serpent Sermon’ highlight. Angelus Apatrida’s ‘Clockwork’ is a decent modern thrash record, full of tasty riffs and headbanging moments but struggles to keep the attention until the end. Their Maiden cover (Be Quick or Be Dead) is cracking though. Finally, what can you say about ‘Onwards to Golgotha’ that hasn’t already been said. Incantation do swampy, seasick groove better than everyone, and their blasphemous debut tears holes through everything else. I fucking love it

This is a revelation of an ongoing project I have been working on for a while now. History is important to metal, in many shapes and forms. History is also very important to me. It is what I got my degree in at university, it was the subject I was best at at school, and it is a hobby of mine. I like to seek out the lesser told parts of history, the parts you don’t learn about at school, the parts that have no bearing on my homeland or my life. These are the things that interest me. It seems to be a theme in my life, as my music is another place where I search for the obscure, the less popular, the different. Thankfully, all those things are ably found with help of the big bad web.

Metalheads revere the HISTORY of their genre; the older bands that laid the way for the new bands that appear every day. Bands like Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Venom, Death and of course, Black Sabbath. The latter being the most important of them all. But what unites many bands is their appreciation of human history, of events long past. In many cases it is war, be it the World War II themed death metal of Hail of Bullets or the juggernaut of Bolt Thrower. War is a central theme through hundreds of metal bands.

Inspiration from people of great evil from human history is another common theme, be it the malicious Blood Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the ‘Hangman of Prague’ Reinhard Heydrich or the galloping butcher Attila the Hun. Tales of their roles in history are tied to metal songs, and there are many more I haven’t mentioned. But it seems that HISTORY as a subject is important in many ways.

Our most famous examples of such bands include Iron Maiden, Sabaton, Hail of Bullets, Bolt Thrower, Eastern Front and so on. But numerous other songs with some rooting in a historical place, time or figure exist. I want to examine how important it is as a form of expression. How these times in the past are considered worthy of immortalising in a song. What bands find in the themes or symbolism of the past that is revelant to their particular message. As I have started this research, it amazes me how frequently historical references appear in metal songs. They are everywhere, from the blasting Marduk to the psychedelica of The Meads of Asphodel; from the fist pumping heavy metal of Saxon to the howling death of Nile.

Footnote: I am, wherever possible, trying to stay away from mythological referencing, as that would make this project massively unwieldy and potentially inaccurate. I have a great respect for mythology, and I do believe a lot of it will have roots in real events or people. But as a historian myself, I will seek the evidence rather than the conjecture. I’ll examine how the stories of the past work as metal songs or inspirations. This is going to be a passion project that will see the light of day in the future. One hopes