Dark Endless (Reissue)
posted on 7/2007 By:
First among the Regain Records reissues of the early Marduk recordings, the 1992 full-length debut Dark Endless holds the most surprise for those unfamiliar with the prolific black metallers’ early work. A forewarning: this release is a unique beast. Don’t expect the woodpecker-in-a-beehive norsecore Marduk has been synonymous with since the late nineties; Dark Endless is a youthful discharge of blackened death metal…and a meaty one, at that.
Doom-laden, slightly punked-out, and unmistakably Swedish, Devo and Evil’s wall of guitar drives the album. Clearly products of the times, their groovy riffs give healthy nods towards the Stockholm death metal brigades of the era, and are what make this album such a gem. This is not to say that this thing is dated by either production or style; that’s far from the case. Legions of contemporary war metal bands are executing from this template to great success, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the final, caustic half-minute of “The Funeral Seemed To Be Endless” struck progenitors like Axis of Advance with a lasting scar. However, I can’t for the life of me recall a single metal band that has cited Marduk as an influence, so I digress. Riffs, not relevance, are the matter at hand.
Their simple riffs ride high above thin (albeit frenetic) drum work and some over-ambitious black metal vocalization. Without an obnoxious barrage of blastbeats sucking the life out of the proceedings, the evil just bleeds from their strings, emoting in a way I never knew this band was capable of. Whether trolling the depths on “The Sun Turns Black As Night” or galloping headlong to hell with “The Black”, I’m shocked at how goddamned vibrant this thing sounds. Balancing dirges and demonics remarkably well for being such a young band, Dark Endless never grows stale throughout the course of its running length. Considering the band in question, that statement shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Combine these dynamics with the briefly aforementioned tortured throat thrashings and a rhythm section that actually breathes, and what is the result? An impressive piece of nastiness to be greeted with a beer and a crank to 11. This is the product of a black metal band that loved death metal, as well the windmill-and-mosh trappings that come with a territory. However, if that vigor bled into their live show at the time, it’s virtually impossible to tell from the live tracks that are tacked onto the end of this reissue. The aural equivalent to chewing the face off a catfish with a mouthful of sand, to call these recordings “raw” is an insult to the discriminating listener. Regain Records calls them “bonus tracks”; I refer to them as “total crap”.
Despite the lack of worthwhile additions (well, I suppose the entirely revamped cover art is notable), this filthy beast is worthy of unleashing its seed upon a new generation. This is a snapshot of a young band in the throes of a metallic love affair, and a wicked little anomaly among their catalog.
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