Marduk is a God-stomping machine that has been at the black metal game for close to twenty years now. Hailing from Sweden, they do things a little differently than their Norwegian contemporaries. Much like Dark Funeral, they get straight to the point. Orchestral flourishes are kept to a minimum, and up until 2007's Rom 5:12, most of their material has been blindingly fast. Since acquiring vocalist/gagger/puker Mortuus, Marduk has augmented their baneful brew of kvltness with more atmosphere and more studio trickery. That's a good thing. Wormwood, the band's latest invocation, is all kinds of extreme, yet it's musical enough to rise above the taxonomy of "background noise."
I can't say enough about the inhuman vocals of Mortuus. I know there are still plenty of Legion devotees, but the new (well, new-ish) guy goes beyond being a black metal vocalist. He alters his approach to fit the mood of the music, whereas Legion was stuck in shriek mode. The guitars are achingly simple, but the melodies saturate each song with emotion, even if the nature of the emotion is anything but harmonious. Listen to the lead runs in "Into Utter Madness" and "Phosphorous Redeemer." That's catchy stuff! On the percussive side, we get a lion's share of tempo variation, resourceful fills and snarled blastbeats.
Wormwood sees the trend of well-produced Marduk albums continue. Everything sounds full, like a whale's stomach after a balanced breakfast of characters from the Bible (hooray for sacrilegious similes!). The bass plays an integral part in the arrangements, so it's a relief to hear it high in the mix. Again, I'll allude to "Into Utter Madness." Damn, that's a catchy song. It may be the only black metal funeral hymn you end up humming to yourself this year. Personal favorites aside from the two I mentioned? The grinding "Chorus of Cracking Necks," the lurching "Funeral Dawn," and the femur-fucking (???) "This Fleshly Void." This album is almost as fulfilling as World Funeral. Funeral, funeral, funeral and...funeral. Translation: buy this CD!
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 4:33 PM