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War and its seemingly endless shades of inhumane and gruesome deeds are an inseparable part of mankind’s DNA and a quintessential conceptual element to such a defiant, immoral and contemptuous musical genre as black metal. 1990 formed Swedish act MARDUK underlines this fact vehemently with its 13th full-length album, “Frontschwein”, not only delivering the renowned and revered musical and lyrical onslaught but also heading back to the WW2-theme known from 1999’s classic “Panzer Division Marduk”.
“Frontschwein” (a literal translation would be “front pig”) is a colloquial term among soldiers since World War I sarcastically describing the front soldier and his status as mere cannon fodder, condemned to crawl through trenches and die amidst a sea of mud, blood and piss. “Frontschwein” alludes to the merciless fighter as it alludes to the soldier’s often miserable and worthless existence in war time. Being not only obsessed with creating sonic extremity, but also with delving into all the facets of war, unpolished and real, mastermind Morgan is eager to unleash another martial opus upon the quivering masses:
““Frontschwein” explores the killing fields of WW2”, he states. “From the simple front soldier’s daily hell in the title-track to the raging, burning desert of “Afrika”, across the blood-soaked ground in “Falaise: Cauldron Of Blood” – site of a murderous battle in Normandy / France – over to the Eastern front. At the end of the record, war drums are beating, while the wheels of death grind ever on, spewing forth “Thousand-Fold Death”.”
Never shying away from controversy and provoking anew with a German album title and WW2 photos depicting German soldiers, Morgan further points out that his perspective - as brutal and offending it might be to some - “is leaving no room to be misunderstood. It is a description of how such things happened. It is our vision of the realities of war, uncompromising, unadorned. Trying to apply any political agenda to what we do is futile. We didn’t write history, but the soundtrack to its darkest chapters.”
This soundtrack consists of a relentless yet diverse barrage of high-speed-drumming, raw and aggressive riffs and vocalist Mortuus’ hateful roars and screams. MARDUK’s newest assault does not repeat the nonstop, orgiastic blasting approach of “Panzer Division Marduk” but also weaves in heavier mid-tempo tracks (“The Blond Beast”, “Wartheland”, “Nebelwerfer”). Its finale however, is easily one of the fastest moments in their entire career, topped off by an unbelievable vocal performance. On the media book edition, MARDUK also included another remarkable track as bonus: “Warschau III: Necropolis”, created in cooperation with industrial act Arditi. The track resonates as another proof for the band’s increasingly varied output especially since 2004’s “Plague Angel”, which initiated MARDUK’s collaboration with singer Mortuus, who brought in an even more extreme atmosphere and impact.
On “Frontschwein”, 25 years of black metal history collide with eons of devastation and destruction amongst human beings. The result is an ugly, furious album true to MARDUK’s sinister legacy and true to the essence of black metal. Welcome to the front. There is no salvation.