Panzer Division Marduk polarizes. It does not head for the highest average rating. Instead, it follows a niche strategy and presents songs for a comparatively small, but absolutely loyal number of enthusiasts. Marduk's aim was to create the "Reign in Blood" of black metal. This kind of project is always questionable. To refer to the work of somebody else stands more or less in contrast with the basic idea of creativity. Furthermore, one cannot surpass the original. But Marduk just adopted the concept - to create a furious reference point for the genre while putting the emphasis on nothing else but its quintessential features - and the format of approximate 30 minutes length. In this respect it can be said that Marduk released an independent work.
Apart from questions of style and autonomy, the cross-reference to "Reign in Blood" has another difficulty. You guessed it, I am speaking of the overwhelming quality of Slayer's masterpiece. Marduk's strategy differs from that of the thrash kings of the eighties. Instead of delivering an outstanding and comparatively opulent opener and a similarly voluminous double strike at the end, they have created eight songs that stand on an equal footing with each other. This approach leads to a high degree of homogeneity and the result is that the sonic battlefield leaves no chance to escape. From the first tones to the last chord, Marduk's focus is set on elimination. Sweden is the European country with the longest period of peace, but Morgan and his warriors do not care about this seemingly shameful situation.
The aforementioned similarity of the songs does not result in predictable composition structures. Of course, each and every track appears as the most devastating artillery fire since the beginning of time. Nevertheless, Marduk have managed to give them different characters in view of the stunning leads, the insanely hammering drums and the passionate performance of Legion. Caught in the clutches of sheer frenzy, he expresses the cruelty of the bloodthirsty battle. Without doubt, thousands of soldiers have already left their lives and each and every loss seems to increase the martyrdom of those who have survived so far and Legion, needless to say, belongs to the survivors.
The production is also focused on the highest possible degree of pressure, massiveness and destruction. As a matter of course, it does not follow the recording rules of the underground and lacks filth and mud. Nevertheless, this Panzer Division rolls over a disturbed, dirty and blood-drenched ground, leaving only a trail of devastation and death. Programmatic song titles such as "Baptism by Fire" or "Scorched Earth" hit the mark.
Despite the overwhelming aggression, Marduk have written songs that do not lack of dynamism. The tracks burst with energy and there are no reasons to hope for an interruption of this inferno. I freely admit that the band has made a little mistake by the selection of the opener, because the following tracks are significantly stronger. Effervescent riffs and lethal leads are the fundament of exploding cannon shots like "Christraping Black Metal" or "Baptism by Fire", but the ultimate insanity begins with "Beast of Prey", continues with "Blooddawn" and ends with "502". The Swedes connect the most hellish lines with deadly catchiness. Listen to the line "All I want, all I need, is to see my enemy bleed", taken from "Beast of Prey" or the screamed one-word-chorus of "Blooddawn" which crowns the work of a fascinating and flattening lead guitar. Not to mention the bombarding verses and instrumental parts of "502". Hell has opened its doors.
Panzer Division Marduk polarizes. Anyway, every review mirrors a subjective opinion. Seen from today, the album did not become the black "Reign in Blood", but it has reached a very good status and its concept constitutes, more or less, a unique selling point. It is not the strongest black metal album of all times, but the number of better genre full-lengths is very small.
Rating: 9.8 out of 10
MetalBite Review by Death8699 on 11/18/2018 10:58:41 AM
Marduk has been around enough to know that their genre is extreme black metal. When I say "extreme" I mean literally no letup during any of the songs. Legion slays on vocals, Evil dishes out amazingly fast guitar, Bogge blisters on bass and Fredrik Andersson blast beats on the drums galore. There aren't any songs on this album that are slow by any means. It's high intensity, riffs are tremolo picked so fast it's amazing. They've got to be on speed to play this fast and relentlessly empowering. There's no song on here that isn't filled with blast beating.
First of all, the songs are not only fast, but are memorable. That's one thing that stuck to me when I was listening to this release. All of the songs are worthy of praise. It's 30 minutes of hyper speed Satanic black metal. Some riffs on the guitar were a tad slow but then it's followed by more tremolo picking. It doesn't matter what song that you pick for this. All of them are worthy of praise. Just by intensity, awesome throat, shining guitar riffs, limited amount of solo guitar work, and drums that go well along with the music. That is because of the intensity, the amazing amount of hard work on the unique guitar overtures, and drums backing up this amazing release. I love the guitar because the riffs have so much diversity in speed which is what makes this album stand out among the black metal loving community. The guitar goes well along with the vocals. Production/mixing was done with perfection. All of the instruments and vocals blended in perfectly so that you can hear everything in unison. The vocals don't drown out the guitar or drums. All of the songs are only about 3-4 minutes in length. There's only 8 tracks on the album and it clocks in for only about 30 minutes in length. But these 30 minutes are black metal the way that it should be played which is fast and furious. There are little bomb intros to some of the songs then blast the guitar and drums come in and dominate.
It's hard to find any faults with this album. Everything seems to fit evenly with the band's performance. Top notch black metal that doesn't have much diversity, only speed. That's what Panzer Division Marduk is all about. Fast and furious metal with Legion's killer vocal outputs. If you want to hear some black metal frenzy then get Panzer Division Marduk. It doesn't fall short from any standpoints. Fast, furious, gutsy and unrelenting in the 30 minutes that this album devours.