MARDUK - Opus Nocturne (REGAIN - LP 2008)
Personally I always divide Marduk history on three periods: the first one are albums number one – three, then there’s Legion era and finally we have the great and successful period with Arioch on vocals. Each of these times offered us, the fans, some fantastic albums, although I do must admit that maybe the early days of the band are those, which I like the least. For example I am not a big fan of “Dark Endless” album. But on the other hand I think that “Opus Nocturne” is one of Marduk’s finest records ever. Maybe I’m just being sentimental a little, as this is also the first album I heard from this band, I think I heard it around 1995. But even if so, it doesn’t change the fact that the music on “Opus Nocturne” is damn fantastic. Basically everything on this record is perfect, starting with the great artwork (I guess I only don’t like those drawings of each band member haha), the production and finishing with the music. Great, great stuff.
Style wise “Opus Nocturne” is a natural consequence of the two previous Marduk albums. Many of the riffs, arrangements, paces, vocal sound are similar or in the same vein, but I think that the band evolved and simply got better since “Those of the Unlight”. And one of the best things about “Opus…” is that it contains many more atmospheric parts, which give the music deeper feeling and more diversity. It’s not just a cannonade of unstoppable drumming and slaughtering riffs. It has some slower songs, sometimes the music gets a bit more melodic or even epic, using even some keyboards! And it doesn’t disturb to sound harsh, evil and dark, as always! I must especially mention here the title track, as it’s short, but simply excellent, with a great main melodic theme and some spoken vocal parts in the end. It sounds truly melancholic in my opinion, far from the raging and vicious black metal, which Marduk is usually known for. Then we have memorable and catchy “Materialized in Stone”, which even if is much slower that the usual stuff, belongs to Marduk’s best known tracks, a must for the liveset on many, many gigs the band played in their career. And this song stands out from the rest of “Opus Nocturne” for sure, interestingly reminding me some old Dissection. It’s also cool to hear rehearsal version of this song, as surprisingly it contains some clean vocal parts – and they’re probably the only clean vocals I can remember to hear from Marduk. I must also mention “Deme Quaden Thyrane”, even if I regret that they didn’t decide to carry on with the slow pace this song begins with. It starts great, but then it all is abruptly interrupted with another blasting piece. “Sulphur Souls” on the other hand is a great mixture of malicious and violent riffing with some slow, majestic pieces with keyboards increasing the dark aura. And it works great in this song.
Of course Marduk also delivers a lot of relentless, vicious and fierce, truly fast and aggressive tracks, like “Autumnal Reaper”, “From Subterranean Throne Profound”, “The Sun Has Failed“ but I like especially the mighty “Untrodden Paths (Wolves Part II)”, which sums up what early Marduk was about perfectly. A lot of neck breaking speed, but also some slower, kind of death / black metal bits and arrangements, so characteristic for the band in their early albums. And the most important thing is that all these songs complete a great album and work great together. I really like the atmosphere of this music, the production is also good, the performance from each member (B.War!) is top notch… so yeah, there’s just nothing wrong here.
And for this review I was actually spinning the Regain / Blooddawn Records vinyl reissue from 2008. It had a different artwork from Kris Verwimp – similar in style, but not quite as good as the original one. And the LP contains three songs recorded during a rehearsal, what is a nice addition. It is a good reissue, anyway.
Standout tracks: “Materialized in Stone”, “Untrodden Paths (Wolves Part II)”, “Opus Nocturne”, “The Sun Has Failed”
Final rate: 90/100