Marduk – Memento Mori

You are currently viewing Marduk – Memento Mori

Year: 2023 
Total Time: 41.57 
Label: Century Media 

It is the year 2023 and my favorite non-metal band, DEPECHE MODE are back with their fifteenth full length album entitled “Memento Mori”. But we are not here to talk about the British but about the Swedish titans of Black Metal, MARDUK who completely coincidentally in the past year also released their fifteenth full length album with the same title! Somewhere here the similarities for these two releases end as the Swedes are not joking. They have been in the business since 1990, they have gone through many stages, they have changed many members, but if there is one thing that Morgan Håkansson (founding member, guitar) and Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén (vocals, guitar, bass) know how to do very well, is to deliver extreme, aggressive, military Black Metal. Of course, responsible for the bombardment that takes place in most of the tracks is the band’s “new” drummer Simon Schilling and I put it in quotes because the German is in the band since 2019, this is just their first release with him. 

If there is something that surprises me about MARDUK is how fresh they sound after 30+ years of career in music industry. I mentioned earlier that over the years they have changed a lot of members but since 2004 with the arrival of Daniel the band has stability in songwriting, two people who have been playing Black Metal for years and know very well what they want to play and how to play it (yes don’t expect to listen to guitar solos). Just every now and then new members come in to add their own touches, and usually these are drummers. This is why while MARDUK have been playing in the same style for many years personally they give me the feeling that they are not repeating themselves. I’m not talking about someone who has listened to 3-4 albums once and can’t tell them apart, I’m referring to the fans of the band who have been listening to them for years and have never gotten tired of them. 

Generally “Memento Mori” puts out a lot of energy with most of the tracks being very aggressive. The album starts slowly with the titular track that after a short intro grabs you by the face and continues with the more “groovy” “Heart of the Funeral”. “Groovy” by MARDUK standards always. Then we go to the extreme “Blood of the Funeral” which was released earlier as a single to promote the album and here we see for the first time or rather it becomes clear Simon’s influence on the album before it was even released. The guy is an “airport transfer” as we say in Greek football slang and he came for this very purpose. To rip-off heads! The band has always had talented musicians and fast drummers who can deliver the songs especially live, but personally I think Simon is the most influential drummer they’ve ever had. Of course he has proven himself and what he can do in his time with BELPHEGOR and other Death Metal bands he has played for, so if you are a fan of the extreme sound you should already know him. 

Moving forward in the album we hear the second single that was released earlier, the slow-paced “Shovel Beats Sceptre”. Generally I like this concept where slow tracks follow fast ones because I guess that’s how they will be played in concerts as well. Of course, after that follows a blastbeats rush with “Charlatan”, “Coffin Carol”, “Marching Bones”, “Year of the Maggot” and “Red Tree of Blood” with the third one being my personal favorite of the album. Finally, the album closes with the slow, sort of an outro “As we are” where we hear the voice of the late L.G. Petrov (“ex-ENTOMBED”) to give us some time to realize and digest what we have been listening to for the past forty minutes or so. 

The whole aesthetic of the album follows its title which in free translation means “Remember (you must) die” or, as I understand it, “we will all die one day”. The cover artwork has been done again, as in the last six releases of the Swedes, by “Mortuus” and shows exactly that. A winged skeleton on a white background holding a scythe in one hand and an hourglass in the other, depicting death and the time that for all of us will end at some point. Now the fact that the skeleton has a beard and wears a hat is reminiscent of (dead) Santa Claus but whatever. Also the themes of the tracks deal with death from different angles, hell and our after death presence there. Nice stuff. In general, on this album they move away a bit from the war themes that have gotten them in trouble in the past regarding being Nazis etc. So far, I haven’t heard anything related about “Memento Mori” and I guess it will stay that way. 

I don’t want to say any big words about “Memento Mori”. Personally I consider it one of the best extreme metal albums of the year, something that was shown by the results of the voting of the members of “The Gallery”, but in general it’s just another good MARDUK album and the reason why this band has been one of the “greats” of the genre for years. It has a typical MARDUK sound, guitar-wise Morgan has found his style long ago and “Mortuus” with his rotten vocals, and after 20 years, has established himself as “the voice” of the band (yeah man, it’s been 20 years since “World Funeral” with “Legion”…). In some parts, the album reminds me of “Funeral Mist”, the other band of “Mortuus”, and in many other parts it shows me Simon’s Death Metal influences. I think these are the reasons that make “Memento Mori” sound fresh but at the same time typical MARDUK. I don’t know whether the album will become a classic or we will listen to it after 10-20 years but I believe it has 1-2 tracks that can be established in the live playlists of the band for many years and that says a lot for a band that has been playing Black Metal for 30+ years and has 15 (up to the time this review is written) albums on its arsenal. 

Rating: 8/10 
Editor: Dimitris Georgouvelas 
Related Link: MARDUK – Official Page 

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