You have to hand it to Sweden’s Marduk. Just as the controversy around their obsession with the German Army’s ‘good uniforms and big tanks’ reaches fever pitch – and it’s not a good time to be on the wrong side of the social media mob in 2018 – they wade in with their most martial set of artwork yet – the cover for both album Viktoria and single Equestrian Bloodshed are heavily redolent of SS recruitment posters – further whipping up the maelstrom of hate and misunderstanding surrounding the album.
This is undoubtedly a good move, because the music contained within Viktoria’s grooves is strictly general issue Marduk, if I may be permitted to mix my military metaphors. A bit of hype never did anyone any harm, and Marduk have wisely stoked the fires well ahead of the release of this album.
That’s not to say Viktoria is a bad record. It’s pretty good by most band’s standards operating in this theatre, and as a way of spending thirty two war-obsessed minutes you definitely won’t hear better all year; but, in the final washup, it’s not as good as last album Frontschwein, or past classics like Panzer Division Marduk. To further belabour the second world war metaphors, whilst Viktoria wants to be the Dirlwanger Brigade it ends up being more like a common or garden Wehrmacht detatchment. Still deadly, but not particularly evil.
The title track will excite long term listeners, as perhaps will doomy end number Silent Night; Tiger I flattens all in it’s path as relentlessly as the weapon of war from which the song takes it’s name and Narva, a tale of the bload soaked Eastern Front campaign of the same name also comes close to reanimating the sheer animalistic savagery of Frontschwein. But when all is said and done Viktoria is just not as dangerous as it’s predecessor, and whilst I’m sure I’ll be listening to it a fair bit over the next few months it falls quite a way short of being labelled essential.
Viktoria is released by Century Media on June 22nd.