Marduk Set for India Debut This Week
Sweden’s black metal
veterans on censorship,
controversy, and playing
For a band that’s been barred from performing in Belarus and more recently, had anti-fascist protests cancel their show in Oakland in February, Swedish black metal band Marduk are not in the least affected by it. Guitarist and founder Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson says over the phone, “For all the 27 years of our career, we’re used to problems. That’s life, you have to overcome problems and keep on believing and find new ways.”
In around three decades, Marduk have steadily become one of the front-running black metal bands, not just for hyper-speed blastbeats but also for the topics they cover. Beyond just shock-value anti-Christianity, they also explore themes like loneliness, on their 1994 classic “Materialized in Stone,” off Opus Nocturne. And by 1999, they had gained fans for their war-themed Panzer Division Marduk, which also explains their reputation of being a divisive band at times, especially in light of Antifa protests. But again, Morgan considers it a minor irritation. He’s said in previous interviews that he takes controversy and opposition to the band’s music as “inspiration”. He adds, “We keep on marching and I don’t even put in my energy with these people who boycott our music. It’s so stupid. It’s not part of my world.”
Could it be that the glorified stories of war and death are more than just stories for Marduk and their fans? Morgan is a bit cryptic on that front, when he talks about how fan interaction goes down. “I meet so many people who share the same devotion and vision as I do, when it comes to the religious or historical matters we write about. We always find people all around the world who have the same strong fascination and vision. I always find a lot of people to talk to. It’s always interesting to talk to people who’ve seen the vision of our lyrics and it’s a pleasant thing,” he says. The band has often ended up with a sort of outlier reputation within the metal and black metal world. But again, that’s something that doesn’t matter much to Morgan. “For me, it’s important to do what I believe in and go where my conviction takes me,” the guitarist adds.
Their most recent albums—2012’s lauded Serpent Sermon and 2015’s (the Third Reich-themed) Frontschwein—show that Marduk aren’t going to stop any time soon, even if it means sharing setlists with organizers ahead of the show, as it happened in 2010 in Singapore. Morgan says wryly, “I’m sure the politicians in Singapore weren’t familiar with our songs anyway.” The band, who have played across the world for the last three decades, don’t care much for politics. Morgan says, “I never interfere with the country’s regime. I’m not a politician. We’ve always taken the effort to play in countries that a lot of bands don’t.”
Marduk will make their India debut at the sixth edition of Bengaluru’s annual metal festival Bangalore Open Air on July 1st, and Morgan isn’t expecting to be stopped by anyone out here. “I don’t think India is the sort of country where you’d have this kind of problem,” he says. How tiring is it to travel around the world, knowing you have fans, but still facing opposition? Morgan is clearly undeterred. He gives us a bit of wisdom that completely detaches itself from anything Marduk-specific. He says, “I’ve been doing it for so long and as I said, it’s not a problem. If you’re devoted to what you do, you have a lot of energy for it and I believe in what I do. It’s the main thing in life, it’s what really matters—to be able to do it. I have chosen to make all the sacrifices I have to, to be able to do what I do.”
Marduk perform at Bangalore Open Air on July 1st, 2017 at Royal Orchid Convention Centre and Resort, Yelahanka. Event details here.
Watch the band’s video for “Souls for Belial”