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Blackened U.S.A. — Marduk Sold Out In Philly

A little more than eight years ago, Marduk stomped onto U.S. stages with Deicide and Gorguts. While there is no denying that the latter two bands are brutal, it’s pretty telling of how eight years ago there was no sight of an American black/blackened metal scene. Marduk‘s heavily awaited return — considering vocalist Mortuus’ (Daniel Rosten) visa issues that prevented them from joining Blackened Fest — prompted three special shows along the East Coast with Withered and Black Anvil. So Noisecreep decided to give the full report on the momentous event, and here is the second installment.

Day Two: Philadelphia, Pa.

I woke up stiff and sticky. I picked a bottom bunk, so the all heat from under the bus overpowered the air conditioning. The middle room of a tour bus is always dark, and since I didn’t have a window in my bunk either I had no idea where we were. But at the same time, I knew there was only one place we could be. “Are we at a Wal Mart parking lot?” I asked while rubbing my eyes open. Mike Thompson assured me we were. He and the Marduk guys went for a deuce-dropping stroll and shop at the super center. After the bus lounged around in the parking lot for a couple hours, tour manager Dan Rozenblum thought it was time to move into the city — even though we were all sure that it would be impossible to find parking near Johnny Brenda’s. Yet that is the exact opposite of what happened when they decided to park at a city bus stop and settle for the parking ticket. This left for a lot of playground time. Or I should say, Withered and Paul Romano (designer of all of Mastodon‘s album covers, Nasum‘s ‘Helvete,’ and the list goes on) time. The extreme metal designer/photographer lived in walking distance, making his home a getaway for longtime friends and Withered members.

At 6:30 PM, the Marduk/Withered mobile home became a listening party house. The back lounge of the bus was crowded with writers, filmmakers and the bands. Curiousity had everyone’s blood rushing. What will ‘Wormwood’ actually sound like? Guitarist Morgan gave a little intro speech about the album and the poor sound quality from the bus’ speakers. It’s one of those moments where you want to pat him on the back, then tell him that the difference from the bus speakers to a person’s laptop speakers really does not make much of a difference. After the 10-track journey, everyone immediately assured the band of their satisfaction. With lightning-speed picking moving into softer, colder melodies that reflect a dark Swedish landscape, ‘Wormwood’ has some pretty obvious Funeral Mist influence in it, but it doesn’t take away. It’s definitely a different direction for Marduk, but not a blind leap into unknown territory. My favorite track was the ninth, ‘Chorus of Cracking Necks.’

Johnny Brenda’s is a multi-level bar and grill in a pretty hip area of Philly, but it’s not close to the famed South Street area. The elevated stage is on the second floor, with a balcony overlooking it. The room can only hold 250 people, so I’m not surprised that the show sold out. However, I am surprised that 250 people can actually fit there. It was packed!

Each band delivered a relentless set. There was even a small most pit going on while Marduk played (not as big as the one at Sonar, though). After the show, it took a while before the bands settled up and loaded out all their gear. Correction — Black Anvil was heading back to New York a little after Marduk finished their set (yes, they watched their entire set every night). But everyone else was just hanging for a bit, especially since the bus wouldn’t be moving until the morning.

Meanwhile, Marduk unwound and changed their clothes before speaking with fans outside of the club. While new and old band friends went on and off the bus for the next couple of hours, Mortuus comforted himself with Roky Erickson. Later on, Mike T. told him that Pelle of Watain was also a huge Roky Erickson fan. When ‘Stand For The Fire Demon’ began for what was easily more than the fourth time in an hour, Mortuus said to the rest of the bus, “This is quite possibly the greatest song. Ever.” Yes, true black metal creators live for psychedelic tunes from Austin, Texas. ‘Two Headed Dog’ got a whole other reaction, though. “Working in the Kremlin with a two-headed dog?” we all thought to each other. I can’t even begin to imagine where the metaphors stop and the acid begins.

Before we knew it, it was around 4 AM. Withered and I still hadn’t returned to Paul Romano’s to eat up the delicious vegetarian pasta dinner he made for us. While I thought it would be rude to go so late, Mike T. assured me that Paul would still be up. So when we finally got there, I thought it was ironic that he was awake and ready to hang, but the band was in zombie mode. We made our way back to the bus to find out that most of Marduk was still on their Chinese food run. It was a real late night.

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Marduk
Blackened USA: Marduk Sold Out In Philly
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