Dark Endless is the first full-length from Swedish Black Metal band Marduk. This is the most unique album in their entire catalog, and it is also one of their best. I first discovered Marduk through Opus Nocturne, several years ago. While it was a decent effort, the weak production job made it difficult to enjoy. It was hard to believe that the same guy that produced The Somberlain, Dan Swanö, was responsible for this. At any rate, after this album, I moved forward, instead of backward. Mistake number one. I liked some elements of the Nightwing album, but I disliked the vocalist and the overall production. Anything that the band recorded after that seemed to be nothing but pointless blasting nonsense with no feeling and it completely failed at doing the one thing Black Metal is supposed to do: create a dark atmosphere. So, after being disappointed with yet another sub-par release, in 2001, I gave up on this band and wrote them off. Mistake number two.
Heeding the advice of my girlfriend, I finally gave in and checked out the older Marduk albums. Those of the Unlight was vastly superior to anything that came after, yet Dark Endless soon emerged as my favorite. The first thing that I noticed about this album was that the production is very strong and is much more reminiscent of Swedish Death Metal bands from that era, such as Edge of Sanity. However, this is Black Metal, similar to old Samael and Treblinka/Tiamat. This was released around the same time that the Norwegians were redefining the sound, so it was before everything had to sound like that to be recognized as Black Metal.
There is a lot of variation in tempo, throughout this album. There are fast parts, blastbeats and plenty of tremolo riffs, but it's done with purpose rather than for the sake of being fast. There are a lot of slow riffs that help to create an atmosphere of doom. Minimal keyboard use is present here, to add to this. Every note seems to be played for a reason and they do well to create a dark feeling. The vocals of Andreas Axelsson suit this music perfectly and are typical for Black Metal, being high and raspy. And, unlike most Marduk albums I've heard, there are many memorable riffs and songs. The melodies stick with you even once the CD is over, making you want to listen again. Since the album is relatively short, it is easy to listen to it several times in a row.
Like many bands, Marduk definitely hit their peak early on and this is a prime example of what they were capable of, before wasting time churning out pointless garbage in an effort to impress everyone with how fast and brutal they can be. Standout tracks include "Still Fucking Dead", "The Funeral Seemed To Be Endless", "Dark Endless", and "Holy Inquisition". However, the album is oozing with memorable riffs and melodies, so it's difficult to choose. If you like the old Swedish sound, but you prefer something darker and more evil, seek this out.