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(Century Media)

jools green

Jools Green


Formed in 1990, Swedish black Metal veterans Marduk return with their thirteenth full length release, 'Frontschwein', which returns to the WW2 theme of their classic 'Panzer Division Marduk'.

The album title, 'Frontschwein', literally translates as "front pig", a colloquial term among soldiers since World War I, sarcastically describing the front soldier and his status as mere cannon fodder, condemned to crawl through trenches and die amidst a sea of mud, blood and piss; a miserable existence.

Marduk are known for never shying away from controversy and continue to provoke with a German album title and WW2 photos depicting German soldiers. Mastermind behind the release, guitarist Morgan, points out that his perspective, as brutal and offending it might be, "is leaving no room to be misunderstood. It is a description of how such things happened. It is our vision of the realities of war, uncompromising, unadorned. Trying to apply any political agenda to what we do is futile. We didn't write history, but the soundtrack to its darkest chapters."

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This release which consists of eleven tracks spanning fifty-two intense minutes of listening time, is a full on brutal onslaught from end to end. This time around Mortuus on vocals, Morgan on guitars and Devo on bass are joined by new drummer Fredrik Wildigs who also plays for Bodysnatch, Repulsive Dissection and Witchery (live), to name just a few of his bands, who gives a superb performance behind the drum kit that is both powerful and precise in its delivery.

Opening on album title track, 'Frontschwein', which explores the killing fields of WWII, a high speed, an intense frontal assault on your senses, an indication of what is to come on this release. Although slower in tempo, with a more traditional mid pace, black Metal feel, 'The Blond Beast' is no less intense in its delivery. The vocals from Mortuus are as always impressively venomous, vitriolic and well varied in their delivery but never more so on 'Afrika ' where his delivery is impressively powerful and aggressive.

The superb 'Wartheland' has a slower pace that reflects the bleak oppressive nature of the lyrics, one of my favourite tracks for its harrowingly catchy nature. I particularly like the echo on the shout of "Command!" as it really adds to the atmosphere of the track.

On the faster tracks like 'Rope Of Regret' it becomes apparent what a superb choice of drummer Fredrik Wildigs is; he is a veritable power house behind the kit, playing with an impressive degree of savage brutality and it is no wonder he is currently involved with about eight different bands. He can also play with powerful precision, as demonstrated on the bleak and plodding yet hugely powerful 'Nebelwerfer'.

'Between The Wolf-Packs' has a superb catchy hypnotic repeat riff that courses through the length of the track while 'Falaise: Cauldron Of Blood' oozes with expansive and expressive vocals, dark haunting riffs and explicit lyrics that explore the scene of The Falaise pocket, a decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy in August of 1944.

Longest track 'Doomsday Elite', at eight minutes may not prove to be everyone's favourite but it does build in a dark, deliberate manner, coming into its own at just into the two minute mark becoming intense and vitriolic. Personally I enjoyed that very sinister edge particularly from the overlaid spoken elements.

The combination of slow deliberate and precise drum work, dirty edged riffs and vitriolic vocals on '503', referring to the Heavy Panzer Battalion 503, famed for its brutally high kill ratio, is just a superbly bleak, hypnotic combination giving a feel of tanks rumbling through and decimating everything their wake.

Many bands would choose a slower paced track to close but not 'Marduk'. The final track, 'Thousand-Fold Death' is a fast furious finale to an exciting and provocative release, unless you have the Ltd. CD media book edition which contains a bonus track, 'Warschau III: Necropolis'.

'Frontschwein' is a bleak and harrowing audio illustration of WW2, a lyrically provoking and memorable listen.

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