Marduk doesn’t fuck around with any of the usual black metal atmospheric bullshit like keyboards or choirs. What you’re going to get from them is nothing but blistering metal from start to finish, and that’s exactly what ‘Nightwing’ is.
Unlike many of their Norwegian counterparts, these mad Swedes aren’t afraid of bass or decent production either. Let’s face it, necro black metal production is a method of covering poor musicianship and crap ideas. Marduk has nothing to hide. By having B. War’s bass loud enough to be heard, it adds power to the guitar sound, putting the metal back into black metal.
On their early albums, Marduk often used blast beats as a cure all, to bridge parts of songs or to fill gaps when noting was happening. Blast beats are conspicuous by their absence here.
‘Nightwing’ is divided into two chapters. The first chapter, titled ‘Dictionaire Infernal” is your typical “Here comes Satan, what a nice chap, all kneel and praise him. He’ll lightly sauté your bollocks for all eternity and you’ll enjoy it, so go and do him a favour and knock off Jesus” type of story. It’s been done before, and no doubt will be done again, but it’s nice, safe standard black metal fare.
For some strange reason, the title track pops up between the two chapters, but isn’t listed in the track listing. It’s what you’d expect- hyperspeed black metal with vocals screeching about the vampire myth. Legion’s vocals never progress much past a breathy monotone, but they really don’t need to, basically just being the fourth instrument in the mix.
The second chapter is called “The Warlord Of Wallachia”, and tackles the legend of Vlad Dracul and his bloodthirsty military campaign through Eastern Europe and into the Middle East during the 15th Century. The five tracks are a fairly basic narrative of events.
Morgan Hakansson finally finds space for a solo at the beginning of “Dreams Of Blood And Iron”. The slowed tempo adds a militaristic feel to the song, like a medieval army marching to war. Adding to the variation, Legion almost comes up with a vocal melody. Almost...
“Kaziklu Bey (The Lord Impaler)” picks up the pace again, telling of Vlad’s terror campaign against the Turks. “Deme Quaden Thyrane” sounds almost like ‘Under The Sign Of The Black Mark’ era Bathory in places, as Legion pulls off a fairly accurate Quorthon impersonation. Final track “Anno Domini 1476” uses a military snare drum beat and a simple guitar line, while the almost spoken vocals describe how “Dracul fought bravely but the twentieth Boyar would be his last kill/When the Turks found his body they cutted off his head”. OK, so English isn’t the band’s first language, but overall this is an epic tale well told.
‘Nightwing’ isn’t a groundbreaking masterpiece, but it is intense and more than competently executed. It is the sort of album to play a non-believer who has been put off black metal by the likes of Cradle Of Filth or Dimmu Borgir, or even Darkthrone. While it’s not grimness incarnate, ‘Nightwing’ never loses its metal edge.