Review Summary: Not as hallucinogenic as you might think.
Wormwood is a key ingredient to absinthe, a highly potent alcoholic beverage that was created in the late 19th century and was banned in the United States as well as many parts of Europe for it’s psychedelic properties. Why Marduk, for their 11th studio album, would name their newest composition after a hallucinogen beats the hell out of me. Wormwood
is in fact a natural extension from the blasting Rom 5:12
but the name itself serves no purpose in doing this black metal any descriptive justice.
Marduk, named after the Babylonian God and founded in Norrköping, Sweden by the only remaining Morgan "Evil" Steinmeyer Håkansson, has been trekking along for quite some time now (almost 20 years), producing a steady selection of brutally annihilating black metal. It’s not until their last few albums that Marduk began to incorporate a more focused songwriting approach and laid off the monotonous, psychotic blast beats, giving their brand of black metal more room to breathe. This became particularly evident with Rom 5:12
, showing signs of slowing down and adding some more textural depth through keyboards and progressive passages. On Wormwood
all of these new features have been tightened with an ear to clear production, audible bass lines, and some standout moments that keep things interesting. These standout moments are few and far between, but you will know them when they ring out from your speakers. One of these fine examples comes in the form of the wickedly hypnotic “Funeral Dawn” that slows things down and creates a head banging rhythm that is accompanied by some eerily beautiful keys and choir. “Into utter Madness” may start off in generic fashion, but ends on a strong note that brings to mind those frigid melodies captured on black metal classics. And let’s not forget those progressive passages that made Rom 5:12
such an enjoyable record; done to perfection on “To Redirect Perdition”.
contains some of Marduk’s best work to date, there is still plenty of filler and those recycled rapid fire tremolo guitar lines that feel the same throughout each track. Even the songwriting, as focused as it might be, could still use some more punch rather than just blasting the *** out of everything when ideas run dry. One of the biggest problems on this record is Mortuus’s pseudo-evil, shrilling screech and gurgling lows that sound like someone’s drowning an old man. This becomes obnoxious as the album wears-on, but it’s not until you reach the final few seconds of the record that Mortuus lets you know what he had for dinner through a single belch.
To be truthful, Wormwood
would have come out a stronger record if some of the unnecessary fat had been trimmed and they found a new vocalist. This is actually a step down in terms of quality that the band has been pushing towards since Plague Angel
, getting rid of monotonous black metal in favour of a more varied approach to tempo and song structure. These are all great qualities that black metal fans should embrace (unless you love the same thing day in and day out). Marduk just need readjust a touch and lay off the absinthe.