Review Summary: A return to form for David Vincent, and he couldn't have found more suitable musicians to celebrate it with.
I never quite caught on to the controversy that Illud Divinum Insanus
garnered upon its release, because my honest opinion of the whole thing was that it was more of a charade than anything else. I mean, why should I let my opinion be continuously twisted this way and that when I could just let the music do the talking? Perhaps this is the reason why I was supportive of Dave Vincent's arguably ballsy decision to take the music in the direction that he did eight years ago, less so because of how it presented itself to the hordes of death metal fans frothing at the mouth and more due to its rather avant-garde motives.
But this isn't about the Morbid Angel of the past. This is about the here and now of David Vincent's arguable return to form
In hindsight, Vltimas are really just another extreme metal supergroup evidently trying to sway away from public attention and instead focusing on making a banger of a record. I mean they've done that with debut effort Something Wicked Marches In
, but perhaps it's important to note that they've done it with style. The album really is a bit all over the place. The opening title track seems to have a bad case of ADHD sifting through several sub-genres without actually providing cohesive songwriting for the listener to sit still through. "Monolilith" is a venomous hard slog through mid-paced doom battery complemented with clean-vocal chants and Vincent's sinister narrative focus. "Diabolus est Sanguis" features a group vocal chant settled into the already slumberous rhythm section, which is then injected with a dose of proverbial speed as it becomes blastbeats until the abrupt end. Indeed, the songwriting here seems to have been spread equally amongst all three musicians, and with that comes the disadvantage of trying to piece together who was initially involved with particular moments of the album. Even for a 38-minute record, it's hard to absorb at first listen, less so because of apparent versatility and more due to a clear lack of cohesion which, honestly, nobody really expected from a project involved with Dave Vincent.
There are more straightforward songs here. In particular, it's the songs that record label Season of Mist plugged onto Youtube months before this album was released. "Praevalidus", the humorously entitled "Total Destroy" and "Everlasting" all have a strong whiff of mid-era Morbid Angel about them, and it's obvious that Vincent is never going to forget which musical endeavours worked for him in the past. Thankfully, the delivery is on-point from start to finish. Rune Eriksen presents such blazing riffs on Something Wicked Marches In
, never omitting that all-important precision the guitarist is known for from his achievements with Aura Noir and Mayhem amongst others. Just listen to that aforementioned blastbeat-ridden outro section in "Diabolus est Sanguis". It's sheer brilliance and never is there a moment where the invitation to bang heads doesn't present itself. Mounier deserves equal credit, his drum work providing as much integrity and menace as his bandmates, songs such as the vitriolic "Truth and Consequence" and "Everlasting" given an extra snap thanks to the drums maintaining the right balance between aggression and technique. If only David Vincent's clearly aged vocal delivery wasn't pushed so vigorously to the forefront, this album could have been even more memorable and successful.
To say nobody really expected an album this solid and relevant to the death metal scene to feature David Vincent is quite a success in itself. More importantly, he's found the right cohorts to ensure Vltimas fire on all cylinders, and for the most part, they certainly do. You just have to find the right songs, and the others, sluggish as they tend to be, won't seem so bemusing as they first did.