Saturday, August 14, 2010

Marduk: Opus Nocturne (1994) Review

In Decibel's recent article (July 2010) on Watain, they had a sidebar on their picks for the five best Swedish black metal albums of all time. They picked Marduk's Opus Nocturne in the number 2 spot, so I decided to check it out.

As you might expect, they start with an intro--nearly every black metal album does. This one is organ. OK, after you get past that, it's crazy-fast tremolo riffing madness. They do have slower parts here and there, including whole songs ("Materialized in Stone" and the title track). These serve only to mix it up, though.

Marduk is at their absolute best when they're going all-out. The most impressive feat, perhaps, is "From Subterranean Throne Profound", nearly 8 minutes of high-speed riffing, without letting up one bit, and also without getting dull for one second. They manage it by changing up the riffs often, but it all seems to fit. The other major highlight is album closer "The Sun Has Failed", which is much more varied, alternating between an impenetrable wall of sound and passages with a little breathing room, tauntingly letting you come up choking for just a moment before plunging your head back under water.

The music is great (no disappointments there) but the production is also worthy of praise. Despite having that lo-fi, early black metal aesthetic (still sought out by some) they still manage to do everything well. You can hear the bass throughout (it's often a focal point) and the drums can be absolutely monstrous (see the opening to "Deme Quaden Thyrane" for examples of both).

The Verdict: Decibel was right, this is great black metal. The only bad thing I can say is I didn't really need two minutes of storm sounds at the end. I give Opus Nocturne 5 out of 5 stars.

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