An Interview with
by Gary Spencer

Forming in the early 90s, Sweden’s Marduk has been a black metal institution for more than 20 years now and has earned a reputation as one of the most hardcore, blasphemous and aggressive groups in black metal circles. Their lengthy catalog of horns-forward, hair-swinging ruckus has evolved quite a bit over the years. From their mid-paced, death metal–influenced debut, Fuck Me Jesus, to the blast-beaten attack of Panzer Division Marduk to the vicious, yet nuanced, musical plagues found on their most recent full-length, 2009’s Wormwood, the group has managed to keep their music and imagery intriguing in a black metal world where change is often frowned upon.

The band is about to set ashore in North America next week, first appearing at the Maryland Death Fest on May 27 before continuing on to dates in Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Brooklyn. I recently caught up with guitarist and founding member Morgan Hakansson. Keep in mind while reading this that English is not Morgan’s native tongue, so bear with his grammatical mistakes as he had a lot of great replies to my questions.

Marduk is coming back to the States in May, even though the band has toured the U.S. in both 2009 and 2010. Most European black metal acts rarely tour the U.S. Do you and the band enjoy playing the States that much?

Morgan Hakansson: We enjoy playing the States, as well as all the other places we have marched across so far. For us, it’s a great victory to be back touring over there since we had a gap from 2001 until 2009 because of visa problems and so on. It’s with great pride we spread our wings over there again. And the tours we have been doing over there have been great, meeting a lot of faces that you saw the first time over there, people that thought we never would be back, and new ones as well. But now we are coming over for a short seven-date tour. Since we already booked the Maryland Death Fest, we thought why not do some more selected shows when we already are over there. So therefore, seven cities, seven shows and seven bowls of wrath to be unleashed!

So what did you think about your most recent U.S. tour, the Blackest of the Black package tour with Danzig? What kind of reception did Marduk get from Danzig fans? Did you get to hang out with Glenn?

MH: Highly interesting package. You had everything from Danzig to Possessed, Marduk, Toxic Holocaust, and Withered. All the bands do something different, so I think it was a package that had something for every taste. Some of Danzig’s fans liked it, some not. It was a very varied package. Some people might have discovered something new. I have been knowing Glenn from 2001. I met him during our first U.S. tour and been in contact ever since. We toured together earlier in Europe, back in 2002. He is one of the few artists out there that I have high respect for. He always goes on his own path.

So Marduk has been around for more than 20 years now. What do you think about the progression of the band’s musical and lyrical development over the years? Did you have any idea you could keep Marduk going for as long as it has been? How have you managed to keep its music and image fresh?

MH: I can’t even remember how far we thought the band would march when we started out, but the vision has been growing over the years. We have shown our iron will and dedication. Of course, the band has progressed in all aspects since the start. During this 20 years, I have seen so many bands come and go. I think that people have realized what Marduk is all about and witnessed our strength and dedication. As long as I feel the urge to create and be the vehicle spawning darkness, we will continue our march for a long time to come!

Tell me a little bit about your new EP, Iron Dawn. Is it a concept record? What should fans expect of the new record musically and lyrically?

MH: Iron Dawn is a three-track EP that will be available for a certain time period. It’s three songs with a concept that differs much from the songs we are woking on for the next album. I thought of the idea to do a special EP for the loyal fans out there. The Maryland Death Fest will be first place you can buy it. It’s coming out like a week or so after that, so people attending the USA dates will be the first ones to be able to buy it and then it will only be for sale over the summer and then gone. What to expect of it? Blood, fire, death—the Marduk way.

I read on your website that you plan to release a Marduk boxset in celebration of your 20th anniversary. What all will be in the box? When do you see the boxset being released?

MH: I just started to put the ideas for the boxset together. It will be massive, for sure, and it will contain a booklet as well as a lot of stuff. I don’t want to name what it will contain here. It will be presented when time draws near. It should be ready and unleashed after the summer.

I also read that Marduk played the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise. What can you tell me about that?

MH: It was a weird experience with like 40 bands and four days between Florida and Mexico. You had everything from Saxon to Obituary, so I assume that it should have been fantastic for the common metal head!

You also have a new full-length coming out under the name Death Wolf featuring your partner Hrafn from from your former side project Devil’s Whorehouse. How and why did your former band with Hrafn morph into a new project? What do you see as the differences between the two bands?

MH: Devil’s Whorehouse just shape-shifted and became Death Wolf. No line-up change. We just outgrew the name and felt that Death Wolf better reflected the spirit of the band and the vision we have. There is not really a big difference between the bands. We just changed into something even stronger.

Any plans to take Death Wolf on tour?

MH: Time shall tell. We received some offers and the album isn’t even out yet, so we have to wait and see. But there is a big chance that we will be out on the roads in a not too distant future.

When can fans expect the next Marduk full-length? How different will it be musically or lyrically from recent releases?

MH: Really hard to say. We constantly work on material, and until the recordings are finished a lot of things can happen. But it will for sure be something unique. And it’s too early to say when it will be out. We will most likely enter the studio at the end of this year.

What do you think about modern day black metal? How better and/or worse is it?

MH: It’s both worse and better. Of course, it has been watered out with bands claiming to be black metal for various reasons and releasing soulless crap. And there are also some bands stronger than ever touching the essence of what it’s all about. No one mentioned, no one missed!