On Friday, November 26th Swedish black metal juggernauts MARDUK hit Krakow at Klub HOL with their 30th Anniversary Tour, which had two support bands: VALKYRJA & DOODSWENS on the bill.
The doors opened at 18:30 and the show started an hour later without delay. The band that kicked off the evening was DOODSWENS; a young band from Eindhoven, comprised of drummer Inge and vocalist/guitarist Fraukje. During this tour, they had a line-up change, so Fraukje wasn’t present, and they added a second guitarist. Another interesting detail was that no burning candles and skulls were seen in front of the drum kit, which they had used for previous shows. As soon as Inge appeared on stage, she first lit some incense to create a bit more of the already perfect dark atmosphere for this show. When the guys hit their guitars and Inge hits her drums, an almost constant huge wall of sound arpse. They played songs from their upcoming full-length album, “Lichtvrees,” as well as compositions from their 2020 split, “From the Shadows of the Abyss.” DOODSWENS’ show was pretty static and the lights could have be a bit better, at least for a part of it. Despite this, the band brought a very raw sound and dark energy to the stage within their 40-minute time slot.
Next was VALKYRJA – a Swedish black/death band from Stockholm formed in 2004. I had only discovered them a few days before, but their live performance impressed me. They blasted tune after tune about the occult and the misanthropic attitude black metal is known for, however, more catchy and with amazing solos, which is not as common in this genre of music. You could hear songs from their critically acclaimed album, “The Antagonist’s Fire,” as well as compositions from “A Throne Ablaze.” The sound was good, the performance was very professional as it was easy to tell they knew very well what they’re doing, and they were very comfortable doing so. Covered in paint, with leather pants and metal chains swinging, they were working the stage to the fullest. They certainly had the Klub Hol in a blaze of glory once their 45 minutes set had ended.
As the lights went out, the crowd was preparing for the headliner’s appearance. You could hear fans chanting their name and some even learned a couple of Swedish phrases for the occasion.
Walking on stage while the air raids started to sound menacing, the mighty Swedes in MARDUK attacked the audience with “Werewolf” – a song from their latest album, “Viktoria.” Still led by founder and guitarist Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson, they gave us exactly what we wanted: an energetic 1-hour set of brutal Swedish black metal. The setlist was extremely diverse, with fifteen songs chosen from the band’s modern catalogue (“Panzer Division,” “Plague Angel,” “Viktoria”), without forgetting their origins and greeting the audience with the incredible “The Funeral Seemed to Be Endless” from 1992’s album “Dark Endless.”
Due to the small size of the stage, the show was very minimalistic overall – monochrome lights, one big banner and clouds of smoke. Frontman Mortuus spoke briefly between songs, firing up the crowd. MARDUK is all about delivering its brutal music. It’s sinister, it’s dark, and it is on point. They closed the show with two encore songs “Slay the Nazarene & Panzer Division Marduk.”
Overall the show was great, the sound was good, the lights were not jarring, the bands gave a hell of a show. The only weak points were the lack of stage props and the overuse of smoke machines.
Text & photos by Alexandra Aim