Marduk is pure evil. Evil with a capital “E” and five more e’s after it, and the second syllable pronounced like “Coupe De Ville.” Eeeeee-vil. Marduk’s so evil, the bandmembers haven’t been able to get entry visas to tour the U.S. since 9/11. They’re so evil, they have an album called Panzer Division Marduk. They’re so evil, they have a song called “Fistfucking God’s Planet.” Okay, stop laughing. Stop it right now!

Honestly, Marduk’s evilness is a little confusing. They’re a black metal band from Sweden, swearing allegiance to Satan, yet they’re named after a Babylonian god, for no reason that’s ever explained in their lyrics or liner notes. They seem to be a sort of black metal version of Marlon Brando in The Wild One.

METAL FAN: “Hey, Marduk, whatta you hate?”
MARDUK: “Whatta you got?”

Let’s see if we can break it down into a handy table:

- God (“Fistfucking God’s Planet”)
- Earth (see above)
- Jesus (“Slay The Nazarene”; also, they call their music “Christraping Black Metal”)
- Christians (see above)
- Excessively long funerals (“The Funeral Seemed To Be Endless”)

- Corpsepaint
- Bullet belts
- Satan (“The Black Goat,” “Glorification of the Black God,” “Shadow of Our Infernal King,” “Legion”)
- Wolves (“Wolves,” “Wolves Pt. 2”)
- Dracula (“Dracul Va Domni Din Nou In Transilvania”)
- Darkness (“Summon the Darkness,” “Darkness It Shall Be,” “Dark Endless,” “Darkness Breeds Immortality,” “Those of the Unlight”)
- Eclipses (“The Sun Has Failed,” “The Sun Turns Black as Night”)
- Homosexual sodomy (see “Christraping Black Metal”)
- Nazis (“Panzer Division Marduk,” “The Hangman of Prague,” “To the Death’s Head True”)

That last one probably requires further discussion, because there’s a small but vocal Nazi scene within black metal. Marduk, despite releasing Panzer Division Marduk, Live in Germania, and Warschau (another live CD, this one using photos of Nazi tanks rolling through the rubble of Poland as cover and booklet artwork), insist they’re not part of it, that their interest in Nazi subject matter represents intellectual curiosity and nothing more, and shouldn’t be taken as some kind of endorsement. It’s a reasonable defense; Slayer have written two songs about prominent Nazis (“Angel of Death” about Josef Mengele, and “SS-3” about Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking SS officer and Holocaust architect —Marduk’s” The Hangman of Prague” is also about Heydrich), but nobody thinks they’re believers. It’s just one more manifestation of their general interest in evil. And it’s fairly likely that the same thing’s true of Marduk, if only because their catalog to date hasn’t demonstrated a serious — that is, informed — interest in much of anything. They’re just trying really, really hard to be shocking, and in the process reactivating all the old, boring questions about bands that try this trick: who’s being shocked? Someone’s mom? Or is it just enough that those predisposed to like Marduk believe that someone, somewhere, would be really, really offended if someone ever told them what Marduk was singing about? Is that all that’s needed — a “straw square,” if you will?

I don’t have any answers. I just know I like Marduk’s music. It’s fast, relentless and loud, with surprisingly high-quality production for black metal, and this is sort of Marduk’s moment. Their first four studio albums — Dark Endless, Those of the Unlight, Opus Nocturne and Heaven Shall Burn ... When We Are Gathered — have recently been reissued in the U.S. by Regain Records, the same label that’s just put out Warschau and their newest studio disc, Rom 5:12. (In case you’re curious, that particular Bible verse reads “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.”) The new album’s a bit experimental, in that not all the songs are 1000mph blarefests, but it retains the knuckleheaded misanthropy that makes them so much fun. If you’re in the mood for music that’s the auditory equivalent of noogies, pick up Warschau or Heaven Shall Burn. You won’t be sorry. Unless you’re a fundamentalist Christian or a Holocaust survivor, in which case, well, you can’t say you weren’t warned.