Line-up changes can often make or break a band. The stakes are even higher when the group replaces a vocalist, not just because long time fans might find themselves alienated, but the classic sound of that group might be forever affected by such a dramatic change. Sometimes new blood at a position, especially the vocals, rejuvenates a band and brings them back to their glory days of old. Marduk has had three vocalists throughout their lengthy career. I would argue three’s the charm.
Marduk has been around since 1990 and many consider them to be one of the first black metal bands. Marduk boasts an enormous back catalogue that includes 12 studio albums, 3 Live albums, 7 EPs and 3 DVDs.
Marduk’s third vocalist, Mortuus has been with the group since 2004’s Plague Angel. The album Serpent Sermon marks the fourth full length release Mortuus has appeared on and I think it is his best effort.
It has taken a few albums for Mortuus’s style and influences to take full effect on the band. He has an inhuman vocal range that is much lower than most working in extreme metal and an insane delivery that can even be pulled off live! (Read my Marduk concert review here.) He also contributed to the cover artwork for the new album Serpent Sermon.
Some longtime fans have argued that Marduk has abandoned their rapid fire classic song structure for slower tempos (Wormwood, 2010) but in truth this should be viewed as more than just a necessary evolution, it’s an enhancement of the band’s style and sound. The song “Temple of Decay” from the new album is a perfect example of this well-rounded transition.
The viciousness of Marduk’s speed attack is still at the forefront of the band’s music and Mortuus’s diabolical vocal range and unusual singing style makes it even better. This is clearly evident on tracks like “Souls for Belial”, “Messianic Pestilence” or “Gospel of the Worm”. The sound quality of the recording is near perfect, with every ingenious effect completely audible, there are no ‘filler tracks’ and the album offers a high replay ability. Everything is working for Marduk on Serpent Sermon and this new album is the ultimate proof.
I typically don’t use black metal releases for my “intersection test” (see previous reviews for details: Cannibal Corpse & Blood Mortized) because the music is often too diverse and not disgusting enough to irritate my fellow motorists. However, Marduk’s blasphemous black metal assault is one of the few exceptions to this rule. I tried a couple of the more satanic tracks out on my fellow commuters like the title track “Serpent Sermon”, just to see the effect and I’m proud to say I received multiple dirty looks, a couple of rolled up windows and a business man who nervously made the sign of the cross.
This release has got it all! Lord Belial commands you to buy this album! Let the fury of Marduk ride through your speakers this summer! \m/
01. Serpent Sermon
02. Messianic Pestilence
03. Souls for Belial
04. Into Second Death
05. Temple of Decay
06. Damnation’s Gold
07. Hail Mary (Piss-soaked Genuflexion)
09. Gospel of the Worm
10. World of Blades
Morgan – guitars
Devo – bass
Mortuus – vocals
Lars – drums
Interview with Morgan – click here.