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MARDUK - Viktoria

Release date June 22/18 (Century Media)

With Viktoria, Marduk proves once again why they are considered the premier violent black metal band on this war-torn planet. Lyrically focusing on World War II themes, as is their want, there's an ode to the might of the Tiger tank (referred to as "58 tonnes of hate") and 'June 44' tells the tale of the bloody Juno and Sword beach landings as part of the allied D-Day attack, amongst other WWII topics.

Musically the base Marduk sound also stays intact - namely high speed, vicious blackness with vocalist Mortuus' unmistakable gargle vocals belched over top. Six of the nine tracks herein fall into this category, with 'Narva' and the title track leading the way in Panzer Division Marduk-worthy intensity. Otherwise, there are two crushing mid-tempo ditties (including closer 'Silent Night', being the only sub-par song in this package) and a great punk-infected opener ('Werwolf').

Another stellar release from a band that is unable to issue a dud, Viktoria should be a mandatory purchase for any self-respecting black metal aficionado. In fact, I can see this growing in stature over time, even exceeding Marduk's last, mighty fine release, Frontschwein.

Note: Some may complain about the short album length (33 minutes), but I vehemently disagree. In an age of 60+ minute albums, I long for the old days where 15 to 20 minutes of music per vinyl side was the norm. Quality over quantity any day. Nobody complains about Reign In Blood's brevity after all.

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