Lineup changes are not uncommon in the death metal/black metal world; some death metal and black metal bands can be revolving doors. Changing personnel has been known to hurt some bands creatively, but Marduk -- one of Sweden's finest black metal outfits -- has a way of emerging unscathed after personnel changes. A case in point is Plague Angel, which finds them unveiling yet another lineup. Singer Legion and bassist B. War are gone; this time, the participants are a returning Magnus Devo Andersson on bass, Mortuus (also known as Arioch of Funeral Mist fame) on lead vocals, founder Morgan Hakansson on guitar, and Fredrik Andersson on drums. Perhaps some Marduk fans will miss Legion, but Mortuus/Arioch certainly shows himself to a be a compelling addition to the band -- and one of the things that makes his performances so compelling is a lack of irony. There have been plenty of death metal, black metal, and grindcore bands that were full of irony; Cannibal Corpse and Carcass, for example, were masters of sick humor. But Mortuus/Arioch and everyone else in this Marduk lineup bring a dead-serious outlook to morbid, disturbing tracks like "Deathmarch," "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," and "Perish in Flames." Whether they are blasting listeners at lightning speed or favoring a medium tempo, Plague Angel never sounds tongue in cheek and never loses its moodiness; this 45-minute CD is as moody and darkly atmospheric as it is loud, heavy, and intense. Marduk are not part of the melodic style known as symphonic black metal; the Swedish foursome can be ferocious, and they make no bones about it. But in their own harsh, nasty way, Marduk do have a sense of craftsmanship -- and on Plague Angel, lineup changes don't prevent them from maintaining their excellence.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson