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Marduk have been around for nearly twenty years now. Since their inception, year after year, they’ve managed to put out release after release of uninteresting black metal norsecore of the most insidiously mediocre type. Then, three years ago, they released Rom. 5:12, a departure from their previous style which disappointed their loyal fanbase but gained the attention of people like myself. Then, Wormwood.
This is Marduk’s eleventh album, consisting of ten songs and clocking in at roughly 45 minutes. While the previous album’s departure from boring norsecore boded well, no one would have been able to predict the sheer excellence Wormwood would achieve. The first track starts off with some atmospherics, including a man’s distorted yelling, before giving way to furious black metal guitars that would’ve done Mortuus’ Funeral Mist proud. The guitars in question don’t sound a whole lot different from the ones on Rom 5:12, except that the bass has been lowered considerably and the riffs are far more memorable. The drumming is highly skilled and varied while still remaining on the top tier speed-wise, which is the least one could expect from Lars Broddesson. Mortuus’ vocals, however, are what make this album complete, picking up his style from the first Funeral Mist album; neither shriek, roar or groan but somewhere in between all three, engineering a commanding tone that has not been paralleled by anyone else. Just like the previous album, the production is crystal clear.
To be quite frank – and I never thought I’d be saying this about a Marduk album – this was one of the best black metal albums of 2009. Very few times has an established band managed to almost completely transform its sound successfully, and said transformation being such a considerable improvement. I recommend this album particularly to everyone who’s ever hated Marduk.
-Originally written for Fueled Magazine