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Marduk's unswerving commitment to blasphemy and extreme music, a catalogue of well regarded recordings, and relentless touring schedule established them as one of Scandinavia's best known black metal acts. Though they began as a Swedish death metal act, by 1992's Dark Endless, their atmospheric debut album, they were evolving sonically. 1996's iconic Heaven Shall Burn...When We Are Gathered firmly established them in black metal circles. 2002's World Funeral offered a left turn toward accessibility, but 2004's Plague Angel marked a return to form. The conceptual scope of 2007's ROM 5:12 was critically proclaimed a creative successor to Celtic Frost's classic To Mega Therion. 2012's Serpent Sermon showcased the band's maturity and a forceful new production style. 2015's acclaimed Frontschwein and 2018's Viktoria were each followed by multiple live outings, EPs, box sets and singles. Marduk released Memento Mori in 2023. The group formed under the leadership of guitarist Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson in 1990 with vocalist Andreas Axelsson, bassist Richard Kalm, and drummer Joakim Grave rounding out the lineup. Thier name is drawn from an ancient Mesopotamian diety, and the patron saint of Babylon. They began as more of a standard death metal band with a black metal influence, but have come to be known for their style of extreme black metal, which tends to focus on themes of warfare and anti-Christian sentiment and is characterized by relentlessly fast drumming and blurred walls of guitar noise. They released their controversially titled demo tape Fuck Me Jesus in 1991. Soon after, a second guitarist was added in Devo Andersson, while Bogge Svensson replaced Kalm on bass. Using this lineup, Marduk recorded their debut studio album, Dark Endless for No Fashion Records. Unhappy with No Fashion, the band jumped to the French Osmose Productions, releasing Those of the Unlight in 1993, this time with Grave on drums as well as vocals and new bassist in B. War. For 1994's Opus Nocturne, Fredrik Andersson was brought in on drums, Devo Andersson left, and Grave was resigned to vocals. (Meanwhile, Osmose set about re-releasing the Fuck Me Jesus demo in 1995 -- at the time it was banned in seven countries.) Lineup changes continued with Grave's subsequent departure; he was replaced by Legion (ex-Opthalamia). This lineup issued their iconic, Heaven Shall Burn...When We Are Gathered in 1996. Universally acclaimed, the band quickly followed it with a live concert recording from the tour titled Live in Germania. Its claim to fame among fans and doubters was that it conclusively proved that Marduk could sustain the nonstop, roaring blastbeat intensity on their records without studio trickery. 1998's Nightwing was partly inspired by the life of Vlad Tepes, aka Dracula. 1999's Panzer Division was a war-themed concept album, their final release for Osmose. After leaving the label, Marduk set up their own label, Blooddawn (distributed in the U.S. by Century Media), to release the double live Infernal Eternal and the full-length studio offering, La Grande Danse Macabre, in 2001. Emil Dragutinovic replaced Andersson on drums in 2002. The following year Marduk released the more midtempo World Funeral. It was perceived by some fans as well as critics as an attempt to break into the mainstream. Devo returned to the band in 2004 as bassist; he played on Marduk's blasphemous Plague Angel, a theme the band would continue on their 2007 follow-up, Rom 5:12. Following its release, critical and popular response to the latter album was unprecedented; many proclaimed it the aesthetic successor to Celtic Frost's 1985 black metal classic, To Mega Therion. Wormwood, Marduk's eleventh album appeared in 2009, followed shortly by Serpent Sermon in 2012. Both albums showcased a new, more dynamically forceful --though far from polished --production style, amplifying the band's more extreme musical tendencies. The overt military themes on 2015's Frontschwein harkened back to 1999's Panzer Division. The following year, the band was forced to postpone their U.S. tour after being denied entry visas. Their militaristic lyrics and anti-Christian themes were cited as reasons. To fill the gap, Marduk on their Blooddawn Productions label issued two live albums (Strigzscara - Warwolf and World Panzer Battle 1999), two studio EPs (Ancient Evil, The Sun Turns Black at Night) and two singles ("Werwolf" and "Equestrian Bloodlust"). When they were finally allowed to continue their tour in North America, a 2017 Oakland, California show was cancelled after the venue was targeted by Antifa protestors who opposing the band's alleged sympathies for fascism. Undeterred, they soldiered on; they returned to the studio. In May 2018, they released the seven-inch single "Panzer Division Live" b/w "Baptism By Fire" followed by the long player Viktoria in June. The studio album was a raw, back-to-basics black metal album that was more old-school than ever. 2019 saw the limited issue of The Official Bootleg Series Volume 1, a four-cassette boxed set containing two early albums and two EPS. They released Winged Death 1993, a seven-inch EP containing live versions of "Wolves" and "On Darkened Wings." Bassist Devo left the band again in 2020, and was replaced by Joel Lindholm. Stalled by the pandemic's ravage across the globe, Marduk issued the live World Funeral: Jaws of Hell MMIII as a limited edition in October. In 2021, they released another archival concert date in Totentanz 2001. Marduk toured but were anxious to get back into the recording studio. In May 2023, during the band's performance at Incineration Fest, bassist Lindolm was captured on a fan's video giving a nazi salute from the stage. The band fired him immediately and brought back Devo. In August they released Memento Mori. Produced and recorded by the band at Endarker Studios between September 2022 to March 2023, it marked the band's first studio offering in five years.
© William York, Thom Jurek /TiVo
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