CD Review: ‘Frontschwein’ by Marduk

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Marduk’s formation. The Swedish black metal unit celebrates its formation with Frontschwein, its 13th record. The band returns to the theme of war on this record as each track details the tragedy and triumph of combat. The title track fires off the album in intense glory. “Frontschwein” is an all out assault of drums, guitars and screeching vocals. Things slow down on “The Blond Beast” to a mid paced groove as Mortuus details the horrors of global conflict. The lyric that particularly stands out is “a funeral nation with a funeral urge,” which encapsulates war’s senselessness. Marduk gives listeners a history lesson with “Afrika” which is about the North African Campaign of World War II. It is not everyday that one head bangs to history, but this is certainly an exception. The standout track is “Wartheland,” which advances like a battalion through a desolated city. The pummeling drums are a highlight, but it is Morgan’s guitar work that drives this track. The riffs roll like Panzers across cobblestone streets. The vicious stomp of “Between the Wolf-Packs” accentuates the lyrics; “Blood and ash/ severe reprisals ahead/ the blood is shaken in the Reich/ As thousand-fold vengeance takes form.”

The albums sound fine. The guitars, vocals and drums are clear and there is a raw attitude on this release. The production is not such that one will stand and take notice, but it suffices. Still, it is black metal, so black metal purists will deride Frontschwein for not being “true.” Then again, those purists have probably long abandoned Marduk.

Frontschwein is a good record. Marduk delivers the goods on this one and it is another notch in the band’s belt. These veterans of combat are just getting started.

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CD Review: ‘Shake Electric ‘ by Spiders

Scandinavia is a hotbed for vintage rock music as of late. Swedish rock outfit Spiders keep the rock coming on its sophomore effort, Shake Electric. The album kicks off with the hard boogie of “Mad Dog,” that instantly recalls The Stooges with its primal ferocity. The title track blends subtle psychedelia with crunchy riffing with nice results. Vocalist Ann Hoyles has an urgency in her voice that compliments the celebratory nature of the lyrics. The hard hitting “Bleeding Heart” is simple rock n’ roll done right as guitarist John Hoyles throws out some thick riffs. There is a punk attitude on this track that is every much New York Dolls as it is AC/DC. The grooving “Lonely Nights” has a catchy, memorable riff that hooks the listener in. The wah heavy guitar lead is the icing on the cake. This track is sure to be a fan favorite. The band even speeds things up on the manic “Control.” It is not a speed track, but there is a proto-punk vibe to this track.

Producer Mattias Glava masterfully captures the lo-fi production heard on Seventies punk records, but the quality is top notch. The sound is not muffled and each instrument is present along with Ann’s vocals. There is a nice thickness to the guitar and bass, giving the songs greater punch.

Shake Electric is a great rock record, that further cements Scandinavia’s reputation for producing strong rock music. The band gives ample tribute to its influences in bands like The Stooges, Kiss and The Ramones. Yet, it also holds its own among contemporaries like Queens of the Stone Age and Witchcraft. Modern rock fans may not appreciate the group’s vintage sound. However, fans of old school rock will certainly like this record for its musicianship and production.

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