Marduk - Memento Mori
Century Media
Black Metal
10 songs (41:57)
Release year: 2023
Marduk, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Following on from the overly stripped-down blunt aggression of 2018's Viktoria, Swedish blastbeat merchants Marduk have returned with their fifteenth full-length. Stepping away from the World War II themes of the past couple of albums, Memento Mori is instead a look forward to all of our inevitable impending dooms. And it does so well, mixing in just enough of Mortuus' Funeral Mistian experimental pomp to colour the album in a way that heralds the likes of Plague Angel and Rom 5:12's approaches to black metal beatdowns; perhaps not as good as those but certainly not approaching anything like the howitzer-like simplicity of Viktoria.

Room for optimism, then? Those, like your correspondent, who prefer Marduk's more atmospheric side will be happy to experience the (slightly) slower, intense rumbles in the likes of Charlatan here; oases of relative calm amidst the blasts almost orchestral in effect if definitely not in instrumentation. The clearly audible bass provides a melodic counterpoint to the thunderous guitars, never mind the drum-gun-battery from new man Simon Schilling who more than sells himself as a worthy replacement for the departed Fredrik Widigs. And album highlights definitely include Shovel Beats Sceptre, complete with sneering spoken word atop tolling bells and near-industrial backing, launching into a mid-paced dirge of intent. Year of the Maggot also impresses, an abstract opening leading to a particularly Funeral Mist-esque blaster with atmospheric interruptions.

Those who prefer the blizzardlike blasting side of the band, however, have much to feast on. The likes of Coffin Carol and Marching Bones are powerful and gripping, slamming into your ears brutally and having enough individuality to remain distinct. Early in the tracklisting, the gutpunch of Heart of the Funeral's galloping pulverisation is only built upon by the following Blood of the Funeral's even faster and more out-of-control-feeling widdles, both tracks managing to be complex and entertaining thanks to little touches like the latter's funeral horns as punctuation to the blasts.

Those horns return on the rambunctious Red Tree of Blood to great effect, almost as arresting as the final guest appearance on grandiose closer As We Are by the late, lamented LG Petrov, providing spoken word to contrast Mortuus' snarls. What better exclamation mark to an album about remembering death than a voice from beyond the grave? Not a surprising album; this is Marduk through-and-through. But it is a capable, mature, intensely heavy blast from the Swedes that prove they still have a lot of ammunition in the chamber. And in Mortuus, as ever, they have a funeral orator from hell, surely one of the finest black metal voices in the business. His now nearly twenty years in the band have been its best by many measures; a few more surprises from the band would be welcome, but each steel-tipped boot-stomp on the face of humanity is more than appreciated.

Killing Songs :
Blood of the Funeral, Shovel Beats Sceptre, Charlatan, Year of the Maggot
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Marduk that we have reviewed:
Marduk - Viktoria reviewed by Goat and quoted 60 / 100
Marduk - Frontschwein reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Marduk - Serpent Sermon reviewed by Tony and quoted 88 / 100
Marduk - Those of the Unlight reviewed by Tony and quoted 89 / 100
Marduk - Nightwing reviewed by Tony and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 16 reviews click here
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