Marduk - _Wormwood_
by: Jeremy Ulrey (
Marduk have made a career out of reinvention, but having established a good thing on 2007's well received _Rom 5:12_ they have the artistic savvy to carry on in that general vein with this year's _Wormwood_. You may have heard about the record's diversity but it's important to note that this is not "art" metal in any sense of the word. Tracks like "Funeral Dawn" have a patient, almost regal quality to them, but Marduk are most definitely not dabbling in Nachtmystium-like psychedelics or duplicating Opeth's penchant for prog tropes. The scope of diversity on _Wormwood_ is more or less circumscribed within the overlap between traditional death and black metal, although the band find a lot to do within those restrictions."Whorecrown" comes on like a long lost _Panzer Division_ track, bustling blast beats and frenetic tremolo picking evoking shades of the band's, to date, fastest, most brutal album. "As a Garment" has a bass heavy, plodding intro that sounds like an old mid-'90s Clutch jam. Of course, it quickly sidetracks into a mid-paced deathcore vibe... again, Marduk is sticking to their strengths here and not attempting to become an "everything to everyone" experimental band.There's only one Achille's Heel on _Wormwood_, but it's a fairly significant one: in an attempt to mix things up and keep it interesting over the course of 45 minutes (remember, _Panzer Division Marduk_ clocked in at less than half an hour) there are plenty of slow and mid-tempo moments mixed in with the barnstormers, and in theory that's an admirable approach. In practice, however, it's done in such a formulaic way -- every other track alternates between fast and slow -- that it results in the listener becoming too self conscious about the programming of the album and therefore detracts from it somewhat as an immersive experience. By the second half, the formula becomes a little less obvious and the band start varying the tempo within the individual songs themselves, but the sequencing nonetheless prevents a very well written batch of songs from really achieving any proper sort of momentum. Still, it's not a back breaker, and _Wormwood_ ultimately keeps up the winning streak the band began two years ago after nearly a decade of lackluster albums. In the meantime, any problems with pacing can be largely solved by creating your own playlist on your iPod or whatever. My preference would be to start it off with something slow like "Funeral Dawn", peak with the more brutal tracks like "Whorecrown" and "The Fleshly Void" in the middle and come back down with more slow material (in this scenario "As a Garment" is already in its rightful place as the album's finale). Others may prefer to fire off with the heavier shit up front, but no matter which way you slice it the start-stop manner that it comes pre-packaged in is certainly not the most ideal.
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