Those Of The Unlight (Reissue)
The reissue of Marduk’s sophomore effort, Those of Unlight, showcases a band in transition. Shedding nearly all of their death metal clothing, the band jumps horns-first into black metal’s second wave, but fail to make a powerful splash.
Out of the gate, it’s apparent that Marduk’s screws have been tightened quite a bit. Vocally, the attack has been reined in while remaining pointedly violent. Similarly, the guitars have been streamlined and stripped of the Sunlight-style crustification that ran rampant on Dark Endless. In their stead, an unchallenging tremolo speedride has surfaced, cutting intermittent swaths with some melodic quirks that border on rock ‘n roll. The breaks of melody and the spastic soloing (especially the total scorcher slapped into the midsection of “Burn My Coffin”) are cool and emotive, but the main riffs lack impact.
Ultimately, the main problem is that Those of Unlight leans too far to the cleaner side of the spectrum; there’s an element of sterility to the album. The drumming doesn’t help the situation, because in spite of a spirited and inventive performance, they sound like total ass at times. It’d be a bit of a cop out to lay the blame on production, as I believe it is more of an issue of a band becoming comfortable in its own skin. Glimpses of future glories bloom on the album’s final two tracks, by far the highlights. “Echoes of the Past” starts as a poignant clean guitar piece set to the sounds of falling rain, accented with faint keyboard ambiance. Then, at the five minute mark, a dominant doom riff punches you in the breadbasket and signals victory with a triumphant melodic lead. The closer, “Stone Stands Its Silent Vigil”, kills like the entire album should have, with punctuation in the form of some headbangingly delicious double bass.
Those two diamonds can’t save this from being a rather rough listening experience, however. The saliva-shined cleanliness and lack of menacing execution are unimpressive, and when stacked against the other landmark albums floating around in 1993, this sounds decidedly second-tier. There’s no reason to line Regain’s pockets by purchasing this 15 year-old relic, unless you are dying to see the 3 track video addendum that they’ve so generously included. Save your ching for Opus Nocturne.
Dark Endless (Reissue)
Opus Nocturne (Reissue)
Heaven Shall Burn...When We Are Gathered (Reissue)