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Music Review: Marduk, Wormwood

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Ah, the sweet sound of Marduk continuing their now doom metal influenced black metal path. With the astounding previous release of Rom 5:12 it appeared that the band had turned over a new leaf. With a different sound, different vocalist, and more profound lyrics, it was too good of album to be true. Thank goodness it was true. With Wormwood Marduk continues to bring something impressive to the metal music table.

Vocalist Arioch of Funeral Mist fame is still the demon of the album, and his vocals are still gargling, roaring, and barking as best they can. It is still no doubt that he is certainly the greatest black metal vocalist of all time because his voice is so unique. While Funeral Mist seemed to take a sort of downturn with its recent 2009 release, Maranatha, Arioch's work on Wormwood more than makes up for this pitfall. Part of this is due to the extremely skilled musicianship of his partners in crime as they cut a clear black metal swathe through the album without making everything sounded so muddled or clumped together you can't really distinguish anything, a la Funeral Mist's work. Each track shows stellar production so the vocals, guitar, bass, and drums can all get their vote of confidence in.

Following Rom 5:12 the music of Wormwood follows the same pace. Opening with the ripping ferocity of "Nowhere, No-One Nothing," after a short sample of some screaming from a movie, the guitars blare in with the drums hammering in full force while Arioch spits his venom out. Then the band seems to ease things a bit with "Funeral Dawn," which takes the drums at a slow, marching pace while, amongst the rhythm of the guitars bits of what is an (electronic?) violin or cello chime in adding a haunting atmosphere to the track. Then the next track picks up again in full fury like the first one. In the middle of the album there is a breather where some heavy bell chimes ring out on "Unclosing the Curse" which adds a eerie feeling to the blasphemy that is unleashed a few minutes later. This is very similar to the epic track "Damnation 1651" on Rom where Marduk tried a very similar approach to a breather track by using a sort of orchestra based sound, but it went on for too long.

On Wormwood, the band has appeared to cut out most of the quiet moments that used orchestra samples and sound clips and replaced it with more of the bass and guitar. On "Chorus of Cracking Necks" there actually is a momentary sampling of someone having their necked snapped (or cracking their knuckles) over the guitars which adds a delightful sinister aspect to make the listener cringe. On the last track, "As a Garment," the bass is the primary instrument for the quieter moments, while also enriching the doom metal aspect. Another good thing about these slower moments of the music is it makes the band seem a lot more epic. Marduk has been considered epic in the past, even with their faster tempos, but now they are gargantuan and clever with the mix of sound. Not only does the variety of pace allow diversity, it also allows the vocals to be heard more clearly, and even though they cannot really be understood, after reading the crudely printed lyrics in the booklet then the genius of Marduk is understood.

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