Latest release: Serpent Sermon (Century Media)
Like several other black metal bands, Sweden’s Marduk have been the target of Nazi allegations. In their case, it stemmed from the material on 1999’s Panzer Division Marduk, the second part of their “Blood, War, Death” triptych of albums and one of the most extreme black metal recordings of all. Every track, including the delightfully titled “Christ Raping Black Metal” and “Fistfucking God’s Planet”, draws lyrical inspiration from episodes of World War Two, leading some to believe the band somehow endorsed Nazism.
“I remember the flak we had for it!” founding member Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson offers with a reluctant chuckle. “The strange thing is that if I write about World War Two, people ask me if I support that. If I wrote a song about the Roman Empire, no one would ask me if I supported that! Therefore I find it ridiculous that people are trying to put political meanings into it.”
Evil insists there is no political motivation behind his music. Marduk is about “letting energy loose and follow wherever instinct takes you” and that violent events and imagery merely provide inspiration for what Håkansson refers to as soundtracks.
“Those things that we have done have been based on historical fact, like World War Two,” he says. “They are just descriptions of things that happened. I can’t change history. I just write the soundtrack to those happenings because it paints a strong picture in my mind and it comes natural.”
Marduk has a long history and has proven to be a deeply influential group on the extreme music scene. Formed in Sweden in 1990 when the black metal universe revolved around Norway, Marduk courted controversy immediately with the release of their demo “Fuck Me Jesus” and introduced a sharp, melodic death metal element to black metal that they carried through their first four albums, up to Heaven Shall Burn… When We are Gathered, the title of which was adopted as a name by the German metalcore band Heaven Shall Burn. The following album Nightwing heralded a change in direction that was dominated by blast beats and insane speed. Håkansson believes it was a natural progression for the band.
“We don’t sit down and plan an album like what’s it’s going to be, how is it going to sound, what do people want? I mean, being an artist to me is letting yourself see where your artistic side take you. Otherwise you don’t stay true to yourself.”
Håkansson has led the band through twelve albums and a myriad of line-ups, although the current band, that also features Mortuus on vocals, Devo on bass and drummer Lars Broddesson, has been together now since 2006. Latest album Serpent Sermon sees Marduk again making a stylistic change, evoking a cold malevolence musically with detailed lyrics mirroring their usual anti-Christian and death obsessed subjects. Twenty years ago, Evil set out to create the most blasphemous band in existence, with lyrics ripped from the most violent episodes in the Bible. Today, he finds other sources of inspiration.
“When it comes to inspiration we were probably in the past inspired by a lot of that stuff,” he says. “As you grow over the years as a musician all the inspiration more or less comes from within.”
Two decades on however, he still finds Marduk fitting into the same niche in society, a society he does not believe has changed or will change very much at all.
“The world is always how it is. It’s just the way man works. It’s the same thing that’s part of human history. Common wars, common stuggles. That’s the way of man,” agreeing that it is a constant source of inspiration. You’ve just got to open your eyes. And that’s also part of coming from within, I would say.”
With Serpent Sermon collecting strong accolades around the globe for its strong misanthropic vibe, it would appear that Marduk are still far from done scorching the earth.
Marduk tour with Portal and Order of Orias in January:
10/1: Amplifier Bar, Perth WA (Portal not appearing + Mhorgl + Advent Sorrow)
11/1: HiFi Bar, Melbourne VIC (+ Ignivomous)
12/1: HiFi Bar, Sydney NSW (+ Erebus Enthroned)
13/1: HiFi Bar, Brisbane QLD (+ Vyrion)