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Marduk
Opus Nocturne

Company: Regain Records
Release: 1994
Reviewer: Etiam
Genre: Black
Rating
3



  • A notable release, tragically flawed though it may be



  • The year is 1994, and in Sweden, the black metal movement is in full upswing. At the forefront is Marduk, prepared to release its third LP in as many years, 'Opus Nocturne'. With this album, the band's place as Swedish black metal icons is cemented, and even if they had disbanded following its release, they would have remained influential touchstones for the generation to come. The cover art was a triumph of Satanic debauchery (and still is, though slightly altered), both Dissection and Nifelheim wouldn't release an album until the next year, so the limelight was left to Marduk and their night-work. In retrospect, with seven albums released since and more on the way, no doubt, we cannot impartially evaluate the impact of 'Opus Nocturne', but compared to the band's discography at the time and the genre's burgeoning state, it's undeniable that 'Opus Nocturne' is a significant milestone worthy of reissue.

    After a brief intro, 'Sulpher Souls' opens with a reverb-laden hiss from Jocke Göthberg, here sporting the moniker Joakim af Gravf, and turning in his second and final performance as the band's vocalist. As with 'Those of the Unlight', his shriek is shrill, occasionally even explosive, and his delivery of lines like, "Behold! From the synagogue of Satan..." is admirably evocative. Musically, 'Opus Nocturne' isthe last of Marduk's early throes before their artistic vision fully gelled on 'Heaven Shall Burn...' and their middle era began. As such, this 'Opus' is one of the band's more chaotic and consistently up-tempo efforts, with aggressive riffing and rare melodic flourishes, such as on standout 'Materialized in Stone'. Some clean vocals are used, but only as spoken word during the title track--essentially an interlude--and to set the scene for Vlad Tepes in 'Deme Quaden Thyrane'. These passages further Marduk's similarity to Dissection in these formative years, but the riffing similarities on 'Opus Nocturne' are less pronounced than on the previous release.

    If there is any squabble to be had with the songwriting, it is that some simply drag on for too long. The most egregious of these is 'From Subterranean Throne Profound', which is poorly placed as a second track and exhausts the listener too early. Too, without a full drum sound, Fredrik Andersson's performance is left bare for criticism, and although he would develop some notable chops in his career, his showing on 'Opus Nocturne' is too static and his fills too similar.

    These are small concerns, though, compared to the larger flaw of 'Opus Nocturne' that is regrettably irreparable: a poor production that even this remastered version cannot redress. The entire album sounds as though it were fed through an aggressive high-pass filter, which attenuates the vocals and drums and obscures the low bass-work almost entirely. In this static mix, the taut, frenetic harmony of Håkansson and B. War loses its punch, wicked howls like those found on 'Autumnal Reaper' are forced into the background, and Andersson's tom fills sound comedically hollow. In fact, the bonus tracks, despite their un-mastered sound, prove to be superior for their more balanced sound quality. (The four songs come from an April rehearsal of four standout tracks from the album, and their 'superior' mix is perhaps this re-issue's strongest selling point--compare the first :05 of 'Sulphur Souls' and any debate is over.) And that's quite a shame, because the tireless Håkansson was penned some intriguing material for this release, and one might even argue that the standout tracks are 'standout' in part because of how the demo versions bring out subtleties otherwise obscured.

    More than a shame, it's downright odd. Dan Swanö was once again tapped as engineer--the band itself as producer--and as a follow-up album to 'Those Of The Unlight', as well as the band's third overall LP, one would imagine that undesirably poor production would be an issue of the past. Furthermore, the album's production seems especially poor when following the stark depth of the organ in 'The Appearance of Spirits of Darkness', the fitting if largely negligible intro track. Clearly, the band had adequate production tools at hand; they simply weren't utilized properly. Ultimately, 'Opus Nocturne' is still a notable release, tragically flawed though it may be, and even if the bonus demo cannot compensate for the LP's shortcomings, it will have to do as consolation.


    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: MARDUK
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    Dark EndlessMarduk
    2007
    Etiam9/19/2011
    FrontschweinMarduk
    2015
    David Loveless2/6/2015
    NightwingMarduk
    2008
    Etiam5/3/2012
    Opus NocturneMarduk
    1994
    Etiam6/25/2008
    Plague AngelMarduk
    2005
    Axeman4/29/2005
    Rom 5:12Marduk
    2007
    David Loveless9/28/2007
    Those of the UnlightMarduk
    1993
    Etiam4/25/2008
    WarschauMarduk
    2005
    Etiam10/31/2008


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: MARDUK

    No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: MARDUK
    INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE


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