MARDUK "Iron Dawn" EP

BRINGERS OF DISEASE "Gospel of Pestilence" EP

By Dr. Abner Mality

Black metal seems to be in a state of decline in the year of our Dark Lord 2011 AD, but it's a slow decline, not a drastic one, and that means there are still some grim and evil bands kicking out the jams. Here are two short, sharp and wicked EP's, from veterans and newcomers both.

Marduk doesn't fuck around at all on the three song "Iron Dawn" EP. These guys don't know the meaning of the word "surrender" and I'd say the first two tracks here are as raw, fast and uncompromising as anything they did on the legendary "Panzer Division Marduk" album of more than a decade ago. "Warschau 2-Headhunter Halfmoon" and "Wacht am Rhein: Drumbeats of Death" are blasting, militaristic black metal with croaking leathery vocals and the constant sound of machine gun fire and bombs in the background. Outstanding! Last cut "Prochorovka: Blood and Sunflowers" is more grinding and moody but just as brutal in its way. If these three cuts are representative of the next Marduk full length, get ready for one HELL of an ass-whipping!

Bringers of Disease is a new unit hailing from America. For being on a label not usually associated with BM like Translation Loss and featuring members of noted post-metal band Mouth of the Architect, these guys are surprisingly authentic and hell-bent. Not to the extent of Marduk, but then not many are going to make that cut. "Doomed To Flames" and "Our Final Reward in Hell" are furious examples of Norway-by-way-of-California, featuring some juicy Darkthrone/Khold grooves amidst the speed. The vocals are fittingly hellish and I might as well mention that the band also has a member of Acheron, so they do have some familiarity with the brimstone realm. "Your Prayers Remain Unheard" and "A Plague To End All Plagues" slow things down some but keep a queasy quality. The former seems energized while the latter is kind of by the numbers black metal. But Bringers of Disease have made a worthy first strike with "Gospel of Pestilence".

In the sphere of truly blackened unholiness, nobody can top Marduk right now, though.