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Viktoria is the fourteenth album by Swedish black metal militants Marduk.
Marduk has traditionally courted inflammatory subject material and Viktoria, once again, stirs the cauldron of controversy. If Viktoria is, as guitarist Morgan Håkansson claims ‘… about history, nothing more, nothing less’, it is a ferocious WWII soundtrack in Marduk’s signature sound.
Although overall a standard slab of Marduk aggression, there are a few moments of stylistic variation on Viktoria. The panic-stricken opening track Werewolf marks the most experimentation, such as children’s voices that lend it a cinematic feel. Tiger I is a sparse, foreboding mid pace track, reflective of the fear surrounding these legendary tanks during the war.
Ultimately, Marduk is an uncompromising band, and Viktoria is an unapologetically ruthless album.
Conceptually, Viktoria enters the WWII timeline at ‘the beginning of the end’, with Werewolf, and June 1944, and continues the themes of Marduk’s last album, Frontschwein, an ode to the regular soldier of WWII. This suggests that ‘victory’ in this case has a plurality of meanings, surrounding the ‘heroic death’, often more palatably associated with axe-wielding warriors of the distant past than the German soldier of WWII. The paradigm of battle-honour is invoked through a gallant Narva, presumably based on the prolonged 1944 campaign fought in the ancient Baltic theatre of war. Viktoria closes on a nihilistic note with a majestic Silent Night, narrating not the triumph of the human spirit during Christmas 1914, but frozen death at Christmas time, 1944.
Ultimately, Marduk is an uncompromising band, and Viktoria is an unapologetically ruthless album. Its nine tracks are relatively short and savage. Its concept is dark and controversial. The question remains, however, now that the bleak moment of Viktoria has its bellicose soundtrack, what next for Marduk?
STANDOUT TRACKS: Silent Night, Narva, June 1944
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