Marduk, Serpent Sermon

Jon Wiederhorn

By Jon Wiederhorn

on 06.05.12 in Reviews

Serpent Sermon

Just as misanthropic and aggressive as they were 21 years ago

As stubborn, relentless and blasphemous as Anton LaVey, Swedish black-metal pioneers Marduk are just as misanthropic and aggressive as they were 21 years ago, when they surfaced with their first demo, “Fuck Me Jesus.” Despite nine lineup shifts, the band has retained its old-school black-metal values, sepulchral vocals, pulse-racing blastbeasts and just enough melody to differentiate one song from another. Marduk’s 12th album Serpent Sermon, the fourth to feature vocalist Mortuus, is a natural evolution from 2009′s Wormwood, with a touch less experimentation and a little more energy. Speed is the main ingredient here and nearly all the songs rely heavily on tornado volleys of velocity. But while tracks like “Messianic Pestilence” and “Hail Mary (Piss-Soaked Genuflexion)” are freefall tumbles into hell without a parachute, other songs provide more sonic diversity. “Souls For Belial” starts with a slow, repeating six-note guitar lick and groaning vocals that sound like they’re emanating from a closed coffin; “Into Second Death” features a downtempo midsection composed of a tinny, echoing bass drum and a layered arpeggio that crackles like a newly lit campfire; and the album closer, “World of Blades,” is a mid-paced mini-epic that includes a spoken word poem mid-song, as well as complex bass lines and textural guitars wrapped around 4/4 beats. Serpent Sermon effectively combines the velocity and sacrilege of Plague Angel with the Marduk’s more adventurous (if not always as brutal) post-2007 releases.