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Interview

Marduk Guitarist Morgan Shares The Band's New "Serpent Sermon"

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The kings of Swedish black metal in Marduk will be unleashing another diabolical foray into the darker side of music this coming June with the new full-length album "Serpent Sermon."

With the new release on the horizon and Marduk gearing up to storm the world for another bout of live rituals, I connected with guitarist Morgan "Evil" Håkansson to hear how the band works its own breed of macabre sonic magic.

A full transcription of our chat is available below, in which Morgan discusses the band continuing the spirit of its core sound into a twelfth studio album, releasing the three song "Iron Dawn" EP, and working on a music video of the new track "Souls For Belial."

xFiruath: Your new album “Serpent Sermon” is coming out in just a few months now. When did the whole writing process for this album start up?

Morgan: We released our last album back in 2009, so there’s more or less two and a half years between the albums. We had a lot of touring, we did over 220 dates since the last album came out and we also did an EP called “Iron Dawn.” But when it comes to the new album, it’s not like we just decide one day to start working on new music, it’s something we all do continuously. After touring we come together in the rehearsal room and let it come naturally. It doesn’t take that long a time for all the pieces to come together. When we feel we have completed more or less all the material we hit the studio to sort out the final details. No song is written the same. Sometimes we get an idea for just a title in your head or a whole song pops into your head. It’s a natural continuation of the 11 albums we’ve done before, so the 12th album is a reflection of the spirit of the band in the year 2012. The title “Serpent Sermon” really speaks to the whole concept of the album. Everybody knows the meanings, they know what we mean by the serpent, and they know what a sermon is. It’s a very diabolical album. Everybody should read the lyrics and have them grown on themselves.

xFiruath: Let’s get into the recording process. Where did the sessions take place for “Serpent Sermon?”

Morgan: It was recorded in the same Endarker studio we did for the last album, which is run and owned by our bass player. We’re fortunate to record in a studio in our city owned by our bass player, which means we can go into the studio whenever there is the right spirit to do the recording. We can work for three, four days in a row and then go home for a week and come back with fresh ears if we want to. It’s far better than traveling to another city or country to work nine to five, and I think that is reflected in the outcome of our recordings as well.

xFiruath: You mentioned your last album “Wormwood” (reviewed here) coming out in 2009. What do you think the big differences are from that album to this one both in the music and the lyrics?

Morgan: The lyrical themes aren’t that different, it’s still the same soul. When it comes to the music it’s hard for me to say what’s different because I don’t really compare them. It’s a natural progression, it’s dynamic, it’s hard hitting, it’s everything we want to achieve and everything something wants us to achieve.

xFiruath: In the last album there’s a song called “Chorus of Cracking Necks,” which is a personal favorite Marduk track for me. It has that really interesting cracking sound effect, and I’m wondering if there’s anything like that in the new album where you have a theme tied into the sound.

Morgan: It’s up to everybody to discover that. Maybe it’s not as obvious as it was on that album. I can tell you those sounds were actually our drummer’s back. We try out a lot of different effects for our albums. For example on the “Plague Angel” album we used some old human skulls to sing through them to get a more macabre echo. It’s always great to experiment with those types of things.

xFiruath: The “Iron Dawn” EP (reviewed here) you released after the “Wormwood” album has a very different theme than your normal albums. What prompted you to record and release those tracks?

Morgan: We were already working on this album and completing the material when we found those songs, especially with the lyrical themes, didn’t really fit into the whole diabolical sense of the new album. We were ready to go back on the road, so we decided to do a three track limited edition EP to release on the road, so we released some of the aggression on that one and then went back to working on the album. They could have gone on the album, but the war concept is not at all related to the concept of this 12th album, so we decided to release them separate.

xFiruath: Are you going to do a music video for one of the songs off the new album?

Morgan: Actually we just recorded and are about to finish a video for the track “Souls for Belial,” which I think will be out in the middle of May about three weeks before the album is out. It’s an interesting video and I think it’s the most professional we’ve done so far. We usually do all the layouts ourselves but this time we worked with a guy who is kind of new to the game but was very enthusiastic and had some really great ideas. He’s actually the drummer for Swedish black metal band Setherial.

xFiruath: There was some pretty extensive touring for “Wormwood.” What have you got nailed down so far in support of the new album?

Morgan: It’s a bit up in the air, but it seems like now we’re going to start in the middle of May a few weeks before the album comes out and we’re going to go out and start in the Eastern parts like Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. After that we go home for a few days and go for three or four weeks in the States and Canada, home to Europe in June, and then during July and August doing European festivals. Then down to Brazil and South America, and then on the 1st of September we’ll start up a European tour again. After that we’ve got more offers for Australia and Asia and possibly returning to the States again, so there’s a lot of things coming up that aren’t finalized yet. We’re going to march across most parts of the world when it comes out. I think it’s a music that works live and the aggression and power you get in your face was meant to be performed live in front of a crowd, because then you can create magic.

xFiruath: This is your 12th album now and you guys have been around since the early ‘90s. How has your perspective on the musical industry changed and how has Marduk evolved during that time?

Morgan: It was like 22 years. The music industry has changed so much and I think it will change in the coming years. It’s hard to say where it will be. I don’t think the CD will exist as a thing within a few years, so it’s a big change. As long as we get our music and continue marching across the world. We’ve survived for 22 years and we’re enjoying this dark, long ride and unleashing our creativity.

xFiruath: How is Marduk received in your native Sweden as opposed to internationally?

Morgan: I think it’s the same. Some people think some places are stranger than others. I mean we’ve played in Khabarovsk, Russia, which is actually behind China. Playing everywhere you see the same people, the same shirts. We’ve played in the jungles of Costa Rica and Guatemala, we’ve been to most places in the world and there’s a comradeship in this music so it doesn’t really matter where you are.

xFiruath: What are you listening to lately?

Morgan: Actually I’m going back and listening to a lot of old things. I still listen to a lot of old rock, hard rock, metal from the ‘80s. What I consider to be the best of black and death metal, a lot of things. Whatever is good music that paints a picture of something in my mind.

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur is a freelance writer who writes for both entertainment and technical instruction sites. An avid fan of many different forms of metal, he has been involved in reviewing music for several years and is currently a contributing editor for Metalunderground.com

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