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Swedish metal band rocks with blasphemy

Marduk embodies anti-Christian message, in keeping cultural roots

The black metal band Marduk has been dubbed "Sweden's most vile act," because of its desire to create the most blasphemous music known to man.

And since the band recently inked a distribution deal with Century Media Records, making its entire musical catalog increasingly available to consumers in the United States, people on this side of the pond will have the benefit of judging the band for themselves.

"Our main ideology is pretty much getting it on - fuck the world and raise hell," Marduk lead vocalist Legion said from his home in Sweden. "We base everything on a really anti-Christian base for each and every song. You might want to call it a satanic-based thing."

In the late '80s and early '90s, a burgeoning scene of Swedish and Norwegian metal bands began to arise. Some were led by disenfranchised youth hoping to see Scandinavia return to the hedonistic, Viking culture that was prevalent prior to the imposition of Christianity on the region's people. Several churches in Sweden were set on fire, which lit a fire under its youth and is the basis for bands such as Mayhem, Burzum and Marduk.

"(Guitarist) Morgan formed Marduk and started to play what he really wanted to play," Legion said. "I remember so well that it got this really cult reputation around here. From the start in 1990, it was a constant buzz around Marduk. All the shows were sold out and people showed up with, like, nine-foot tall wooden crosses and just like running around smeared in blood and it was pretty cool."

During 1994 and 1995, Marduk left Sweden to tour the rest of Europe and the band began to see its fan base expand.

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"From 1998 on, we released the Nightwing CD, and we also did a festival tour together with Immortal and Cannibal Corpse," Legion said. "From then on, it's been going really well and we've been growing with each year."

Although the band had success in Europe, it had not yet tasted the milk and honey of the United States.

Marduk was signed to the French label, Osmose records, which in 1997 offered the band a "break our back in a van and feed us at a gas station" tour of America, Legion said. The band attempted tours of the United States in 1998 and 1999, still with little backing from its label. Finally, the band parted ways with Osmose after its management attempted an illegal $26,000 deduction of Marduk's royalties. The band finally reached America's shores last spring following the release of La Grande Danse Macabre.

Legion said touring the United States and Canada for the first time was an enjoyable experience.

"Mostly it was awesome because kids went really crazy when we were on stage," Legion said. "When we got to New Jersey and all the hardcore kids were there just jumping around, looking like people from a hip hop video beating the shit out of each other, it was like something you will not see in Europe."

While Marduk's lyrics are overwhelmingly anti-Christian - as illustrated by the title of its first demo, "Fuck Me Jesus" - Legion explains that the band also is interested in visiting other dark themes.

"We've done songs about Vlad the Impaler's actual life and times," Legion said. "We were in contact with some museums and stuff down in Romania just to get the actual truth out there.

On the latest album, La Grande Danse Macabre, we incorporate stuff that was fictitious, like "Funeral Bitch," which is about a girl who really gets off when she goes to a funeral."

On Macabre, the band also sings an ode to the Arabian angel of death on "Azrael," scorns Catholics with "Bonds of Unholy Matrimony" and tells of a girl having intercourse with a demon before dying in "Death, Sex, Ejaculation."

The band has a limited edition box set that will contain lyrics deemed too controversial, different versions of its songs, photos and two CDs of unreleased material. Only 2,500 copies will be shipped to the U.S.

Marduk was scheduled to play Friday at The Launchpad, but had to cancel its tour because, "some of us.have got criminal records which makes it a bit harder for us to get into the United States," Legion said on the band's official Web site,

Legion also said that the events of Sept. 11 brought unusual scrutiny on the group traveling from Sweden.

The band's tour is being rescheduled for early next year.

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