It’s hard to believe that Marduk have been at it for close to thirty years now, harder still to believe that the Swedish black metal stalwarts have maintained such a consistent level of quality over the years with regard to their recorded output. Case in point, Viktoria is the band’s fourteenth album and it picks up right where 2015’s excellent Frontschwein left off, pulverizing listeners with yet another blasphemous blitzkrieg of World War II-themed black metal.
Clocking in at just thirty-three minutes, Viktoria goes by in a bit of a blur for the first few listens; it isn’t until you’ve spent some time with the album that it begins to reveal its charms. From the blistering, punky opening blast of “Werwolf,” to the stomping “Tiger I,” to the lyrically wicked “The Devil’s Song,” there is much for fans of straightforward, no-frills black metal to enjoy crammed into the confines of Marduk’s most streamlined album to date, rivaled only by the classic Panzer Division Marduk in its cold, unforgiving efficiency.
Indeed, there is a ruthless economy to the songwriting on Viktoria, making it one of the most immediate and visceral albums in Marduk’s storied catalog. But unlike the aforementioned Panzer Division Marduk, the album isn’t a relentless blast-fest. Viktoria twists and turns through a variety of tempos and moods without ever forgoing intensity or (evil) atmosphere, and the band moves from strength to strength throughout its brief run-time, barreling forward like a massive tank triumphantly treading over the bones of fallen enemies, grinding them to dust.
Viktoria doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does lay waste to just about every other traditional black metal album released so far in 2018. While some will no doubt attempt to manufacture controversy due to the album’s lyrical themes, the real story here is that Marduk have crafted yet another impressive album, one that serves to further reinforce their legacy of unholy and uncompromising sonic violence.