On Stage (Bonus): get seriously heavy with Marduk

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

When Marduk performs on August 27 at Reverb (1402 North Ninth Street, Reading, 610-743-3069, www.reverbconcerts.com), the band will be playing at a venue that also is a description of the effect of the group’s music.

Marduk is one of the heaviest metal bands from Scandinavia. When the powerful foursome plays, the sounds it makes rattle the foundation and send reverberations around the building.

Named after a Babylonian deity, Marduk — Mortuus (Daniel Rostén), vocals; Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson, guitar; Magnus Andersson, bass;
Fredrik Widigs, drums – are Sweden’s premier black metal band.

The quartet from Norrköping, Sweden has embarked on its “Frontschwein North America Part 2” tour. “Frontschwein,” which is the band’s most recent album, was released in January through Century Media Records.

“Frontschwein” is German Army slang for “front pig” — a soldier serving long at the front, often used as an ironic accolade for a soldier with the will to fight.

“It’s been a while since we released ‘Frontschwein’ and these are the final shows of the album cycle,” said Håkansson, during a phone interview Thursday from a tour stop in Kansas City, Missouri.

“We’re still playing a lot from ‘Frontschwein.’ You’re never stronger than your latest release. We also believe in our old catalog. We play songs from every album because they are the pillars of the band.

“We were supposed to do the final shows back in the spring but we had visa problems. So, we had to cancel some shows and rearrange the schedule. We toured January and February in the western United States.”

Marduk released its debut album “Dark Endless” in 1992 and Håkansson is the only remaining member who played on that disc.

Frontschwein,” which is Marduk’s 13th studio album, is the band’s first solely war-themed album since 1999’s legendary release, “Panzer Division Marduk.”

“We have a few weeks more of touring and three music festivals to end the cycle,” said Håkansson. “We’ve done over 225 shows since we did the album and we’ve played in most areas in the world.

“When we finish with these shows, we’ll start to work on a new album. I don’t like to write on the road. I get home and let all things fall into the right place.

“We all used to live in Norrköping but now the vocalist and the drummer live in Stockholm. We constantly work on new material but we don’t really focus on it until we’re not touring.

“In the past, we did an album every year and not as much touring. We used to do 35 shows a year. Now, we do more than 200 shows every year. But, we never feel any pressure to put an album out.

“Ever since 2004, we’ve recorded in our bass player’s studio in Norrköping. We can work three days in a row without a break and then go home.

“It’s a better way to work. We produce ourselves and our bass player is the engineer. And, it’s nice for me because I live in Norrköping only 15 minutes away from the studio.”

Right now, Marduk’s 14th album is in the pre-embryonic stage.

“I don’t know which way it will go,” said Håkansson. “I have three different directions in my head – a lot of ideas, a lot of concepts.”

Video link for Marduk – https://youtu.be/0yPOqlrCl1I.

The all-ages show at Reverb, which has Incantation and Abysmal Dawn as opening acts, will start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $22.

Nashville is loaded with young indie-rock artists – many of whom are recent graduates of Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Brooklyn is loaded with young indie-rock artists – from New York and from all over the U.S.

Gracie and Rachel

Gracie and Rachel is an indie-rock duo living in Brooklyn. The long-time friends are from the other Berkeley – Berkeley, California. Actually, they’re half from Berklee too.

“We grew up in California and went to school together at Berkeley High School,” said Rachel during a phone interview Wednesday morning.

“Gracie went to the Berklee College of Music and I went to the Jacob School of Music at Indiana University in Bloomington.”

On August 29, Gracie and Rachel will co-headline a bill with Henry Jamison at the World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com).

Gracie and Rachel are a study in duality — light and dark, classical training with a pop sensibility, Californians in New York. The creative pair met in high school in California and reunited in Bushwick, Brooklyn — building out a loft to be their home and studio where they recorded the new album.

The album plays in a chronological order that represents the duo’s path forged to assemble the musical collection. Their journey through adventurous youth and cohabitation is the focus of the album, which was released on June 23.

“My dad used to take me to People’s Park protests in Berkeley when I was young,” said Gracie. “Both our parents moved out there in the ’70s – Flower Power.

“We definitely grew up with that in our lives. You can hear it in our album of love songs and songs of self-empowerment. The free speech movement in Berkeley — look at our song ‘It’s Time.’ It comes across.”

Rachel said, “We met in high school at dance class. Our dance instructor asked for someone to put together a piece for musical accompaniment for a dance piece.

“Gracie and I raised our hands. That’s when we started together. Gracie likes to call it an arranged marriage. We choreographed a piece with music. It was ballet fused with hip-hop.”

Gracie said, “We’d go back to my home after school and work on music. It evolved from there. Gracie is classically trained and I’m pop. Even now, it continues to evolve.”

The partnership has been mutually beneficial.

“Rachel encouraged me to be more structured,” said Gracie.

Rachel said, “In the beginning, my background was strictly classical. So, I was more tentative about coming up with ideas. I think it was a much brighter sound at the start.”

Gracie said, “Rachel has a darker palette. She wears all black. The contrast was interesting – and something that we can bring out.

“It all roots in cinematic music where we overlap. We found a common ground – cinematic and ethereal.”

That common ground led to the making of an impressive debut album.’

“We were making demos a few years back,” said Gracie. “A year ago, we got back in the studio with a new producer. We had some older songs we used and we wrote some newer songs.”

Rachel said, “And, we also worked a lot on our sound development.”

Video link for Gracie and Rachel – https://youtu.be/mqHg9WiH6yU.

The show at World Café Live, which also features Henry Jamison along with Baby & Shylow, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

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