Saturday, July 7, 2012

Marduk - Panzer Division Marduk (1999)

Marduk's sixth full-length album, Panzer Division Marduk, was recorded in Abyss Studio and released by Osmose in March 1999. With this album, the band attempted a shift in direction, in more ways than one, while also creating something that would serve as the epitome of what many would deem to be pointless noise with no atmosphere, masquerading in the guise of Black Metal.

Musically, it would appear that Morgan decided to improve upon the mistakes of the previous two albums, in a sense. While the constant blastbeats and generic riffs were already a problem on Heaven Shall Burn and Nightwing, the other tracks suffered even more. The thing was that the faster songs seemed to be stronger and more enjoyable, at least in the sense that they passed more quickly and got right to the point. On the other hand, the songs that featured more variation in tempo often meandered around with no direction and were incredibly boring. While not really solving the problem of weak songwriting, the band took the opportunity on Panzer Division Marduk to accentuate their strengths and to better hide their prime weaknesses. The end result is an album that is, as hard as it is to admit, more tolerable than its predecessor. That is not to imply that the record is not boring and largely worthless, for it is, with countless guitar melodies that hint at something better and then disappear back into the false chaos. Of course, Legion continues doing what he does best: making a complete nuisance of himself, trying to fit too many lyrics into every line and ruining the songs even more. 

The production is a total joke, just as with most albums that were being raped by Peter Tägtgren, around this time. While one can put a lot of the blame on his shoulders for creating such a sterile and lifeless sound, no one forced Marduk to seek out his services. With two awful records having already been defiled in his unholy studio, the band knew what to expect and actively sought more. Ultimately, they are to blame for the slick, modern sound of drums overpowering guitar riffs and the terrible clicky bass sound interfering with already-weak guitar riffs. If nothing else, they could have buried the vocals in the mix, so as to condemn Legion's wretched performance in obscurity, where it belongs.

Panzer Division Marduk is the total opposite of what Black Metal should be. There is not one shred of dark atmosphere to be found, while the Death Metal mentality of trying to be brutal and sound heavy is quite dominant. It is sad to think that a lot of people got the impression that this is indicative of the typical Black Metal sound and went on to copy it, as they only perpetuated the lie. That being said, the band at least won a personal victory, as they managed to make a more concise and less irritating album than they had, the previous year. Avoid this and stick to the classics.