Three years removed from the masterpiece that is Frontschwein, MARDUK return to give the Black Metal masses more of what they want with newest offering Viktoria (out now, Century Media Records). At first listen, this is a much more chaotic and bombastic record than normal from these guys, but I’m certainly not complaining. Vocalist Mortuus sounds like he’s been possessed by about seven different demons, Morgan’s riffs once again cut glass, bassist Devo lays down the low end suppressing fire, and Fredrik Widigs reminds everyone why the fuck he’s sitting on the drum throne.
The first song that grabbed me by the throat was without a doubt “Tiger I.” It was my favorite on the original spin, and has been ever since. It is slow and evil, just the way I like it sometimes, and the whole groove works to perfection. “Narva” is blast beats and crazy fills as far as the eye can see, with everyone going for the jugular, while opener “Werwolf” just might have you dropping to the ground and low crawling in anticipation of an enemy bombing run. It is short, clocking in at just over two minutes, but it’s still one hell of a way to start things off!
“June 44” was another one that hooked me right away. I sometimes use the term “controlled chaos” when describing certain pieces of music, and that is as apropos a term as any when it comes to this one. One motherfucker of a song that had me ready to carve up anyone or anything in my way. Morgan’s searing guitar tone leads the way on “The Last Fallen” and before you know it the band is filling you full of lead like you’re Sonny Corleone at the toll plaza in The Godfather. Meanwhile title track “Viktoria” just flips the selector switch from ‘semi’ to ‘auto’ and unloads clip after sonic clip into your head, heart, and ass.
“The Devil’s Song” is cool because at the beginning you hear what sounds like boots crunching on snow-covered ground, then, as he does, Morgan hits the flamethrower, lighting up the night sky. This was definitely another winner for yours truly. Closer “Silent Night” has the distinction of being a very unique song, and at the same time maintaining the sound from this band we’ve come to know and love for years now. I love it when MARDUK goes all slow and stalky; some of their best tunes are in that wheelhouse. But at the same time “Equestrian Bloodlust” feels like a fuckign kitchen sink hurled right at your head, which I always love!
At the end of the day, the Black Metal Masters have delivered another outstanding record that can sit proudly alongside the rest of their catalog. Is it the home run that Frontschwein was? Not quite. But at the very least, it’s a standing triple, and I’m fine with that. It may be a little short for my taste at roughly 32 minutes, but Viktoria sees MARDUK once again doing what they do best. And that is come into your house, destroy you and everything in it, then move on to the next unsuspecting victim. If you haven’t bought this one already, then do yourself a favor and go get it, hey?
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Tiger I”, “June 44”, “The Devil’s Song”, “Silent Night”, “Narva”