MARDUK – ‘DARK ENDLESS’ RE-ISSUE
by Alan Oliver
This was the debut album by these Swedish black metal stalwarts. Now 20 years old, yes it has been that long! Listening to it over again brings back all of the feelings of the early 90’s style of music. This reissue has the original album plus some live tracks from 1991 and some early rehearsal recordings.
This album has a solid foundation. Ripping fast, thrash tinged black metal broken down with almost death metal style slower sections. This all tied together with mid range hoarse screamed vocals that have that faint echo effect which is a great touch. Take ‘The Sun Turns Black As Night’ with it’s chaotic fast ripping opening that breaks into a more death metal sinister plod. A section of guitar melody builds to machine gun drumming and a trad black metal guitar lead. Then you have ‘Within The Abyss’ that starts slow and brooding, menacing in feel only to break into a more traditional black metal pace. This once again turns down a few notches with a sinister bass line and long drawn out minimal chord section. ‘Departure From The Mortals’ gives you all this and more. Along with the changes in pace the slower parts get a melodic undercurrent and the latter slow brooding piece gets a synth melody over the top. The title track ‘Dark Endless’ shows another tangent with the slow bass solo intro that breaks into a slow lingering riff and onto a heavy plodding section. This then lets rip into a rapid melodic blast of guitars before a stop start rumble fest of a finale. The final track of the original album ‘Holy Inquisition’ gives us another palette of musical change with the opening jangley guitar sound that breaks into slow drawn out notes very doom metal in feel as well as feeling dark and sinister. It then ramps up the speed along with a catchy drum melody before once again slowing the pace with a eerie whispered ending over a synth melody. Even the addition of the weird piano with grating violin instrumental to the opening of the album gives it a starting point so in my opinion a good extra.
The additional tracks are four live tracks from 1991 and a couple of rehearsal recordings. The recording quality of the live tracks isn’t that good, more like bootleg recordings but then this was in 1991. It does demonstrate the energy, intensity and intimacy of their early live gigs in a raw in the flesh manner, ‘The Black Goat Of The Woods With A Thousand Young’ being the stand out of the bunch. The rehearsal tracks have a poor basement sound quality and no vocals so I’m not exactly sure why they were added.
Now some people might comment on the simplicity of this album but that’s it’s strength. It sounds as good to me today as it did 20 years ago. From the abstract art of the cover to the tracks within still holds up. I hope the younger generations or people just getting into black metal treat themselves to this album, to show how it used to be done. I’m not sure if the bonus tracks enhance the album though, it would have perhaps been better to add a few unreleased studio recordings from the time or something like that. A proper album from a great era for black metal and this may be the first but it isn’t the best Marduk album, that was yet to come. 8/10