MARDUK – DARK ENDLESS (REISSUE) Album Review (2012)

The world you see around you is just an illusion, created by your mind to keep you from going insane.

And so begins (after a suitably sinister piano introduction) the opening track to criminally under-renowned Dark Endless, 1992 debut album of the Black Metal war machine known as Marduk, re-issued and re-mastered for your listening pleasure with additional content such as live material from 1991 and two rehearsal tracks from that time in their early career.

You’ll also notice a new intro entitled “The Eye of Funeral”, but this is actually just the same intro as before, but given individual track status as opposed to being attached on to “Still Fucking Dead” as in the original release (much like what they did with the “Here’s No Peace” EP, except with an original name given to the track this time).

So then, due to the nature of this release, let’s look at it one component at a time, started with the re-mastering of the original album.

Now it was only recently that I came to the realisation that there was actually a purpose to re-issues, having for many years poured scorn on the practice. I’m a little slow sometimes, and this is one example of my occasional bouts of ignorance. Turns out that even though there are old fucks like me who buy things at the time, there are younger generations who can’t wait long enough for me to die so they can get all my cool albums and other stuff, so shit gets re-released. Turns out the whole extra money thing is just a juicy bonus. These young fucks have no hope of getting the original releases and trying to fight me for them is a no-go on account of me being a triple-hard bastard.

So here we have what I personally consider to be Marduk’s finest work, which quite frankly didn’t need re-mastering as the sound quality of the original was surprisingly good for the time (especially when you listen to what the Norwegians were releasing around the same time). However, there is a subtle difference in the sound quality in that it’s ever so slightly clearer and you can hear that there’s a bass guitar being used. That’s about it really. It doesn’t sound much louder, and again the original was more than adequate in that area.

So when it comes to spit and polish, don’t be expecting some Peter Tagtgren-esque overhaul; this is pure raw Black Metal from a bygone era. Never repeated and never surpassed, this is Marduk in their purest form. There’s an elegant minimalism in the song writing and the performance here that really cannot be recreated. This is not to speak badly of their later works, as Marduk have almost always been consistent in their quality and dedication while still maintaining a sense of individuality and distinction, however here there’s just a feeling of freedom that subsequent releases have never had.

Perhaps because it was their first outing and the only goal was to hitting the ground running in the direction of their aspirations of the time, whereas perhaps later it becomes more about following on from what you previously created? I’ll have to ask Morgan that question one day and see what he says.

It’s certainly the case that Marduk’s career can be split into three periods; early days (Dark Endless, Those of The Unlight, Opus Nocturne) Legion years (Heaven Shall Burn – World Funeral) Mortuus era (Plague Angel to present) and this is the highlight of all of them. It’s no surprise that so many of the tracks here get substantial live play whenever they tour. There aren’t many bands I can recollect who dedicate so much of their sets to material from a début album written 20 years ago. I think the only track from this album which I’ve never heard live is the epic closer “Holy Inquisition”. Which is a shame as this is a fucking dirty beast which takes the somewhat sludgy undercurrent to the album and brings it to prominent dread.

Based on the original material this album comes highly recommended. The songs are compact and to the point and provide a great example of what Black Metal free of conceit or contrivance is capable of.

Moving on to the live material; four tracks from this release, played in 1991 and sounding raw as fuck. The sound quality is far from splendid, but is sufficiently audible for you to get the message that the young Marduk was a competent live unit even then. This is tinny and shrill but still listenable and is the closest any of us can get to hearing this incarnation of Marduk in the live arena (unless you bought the boxset of “Blackcrowned“ which had VHS compiling live material throughout the years. I think that was later released on DVD but I personally never bought it).

Finally, the rehearsal tracks. I personally am not and never have been a fan of rehearsal stuff as it just seems pointless or irrelevant. However, for the aspiring musician I imagine it to provide all sorts of insights. It’s interesting to hear the music without the vocals so if you’re really enthusiastic then this is a nice treat otherwise this is just a needless addition.

So in summary: if you’ve never owned this album (as you’re some young fuck or just new to this type of music) then buy it. If you’re a long-time fan who already owns an original: this is nice to own but not essential.

For anyone who considers themselves a fan of Black Metal, this is ESSENTIAL.

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Track List:

  1. The Eye Of Funeral
  2. Still Fucking Dead – Here’s No Peace
  3. The Sun Turns Black As Night
  4. Within The Abyss
  5. The Funeral Seem To Be Endless
  6. Departure From The Mortals
  7. The Black
  8. Dark Endless
  9. Holy Inquisition
  10. Departure From The Mortals (live 1991)
  11. Within The Abyss (live 1991)
  12. Still Fucking Dead (Here’s No Piece) (live 1991)
  13. The Black Goat Of The Woods With A Thousand Young (live 1991)
  14. Dark Council – Departure From The Mortals (rehearsal Dec 1990)
  15. Within The Abyss (rehearsal Dec 1990)

Available as: CD (incl. bonus tracks), LP, Digital album

Release dates:
GERMANY / AUSTRIA / SWITZERLAND / NORWAY: Friday, November 16, 2012.
UK / BENELUX / FRANCE / GRE / DK / PT / REST OF EUROPE: Monday, November 19, 2012.
SPAIN / ITALY: Tuesday, November 20, 2012.
SWEDEN / HUNGARY: Wednesday, November 21, 2012.
AUSTRALIA / FINLAND / NEW ZELAND: Friday, November 22, 2012.

The LP version will be released in the following territories only:
Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom

DEATH CERTIFICATE – Death Metal campaign special release
www.death-certificate.net