Ancient Wisdom - _...And the Physical Shape of Light Bled_
(Avantgarde, 2000)
by: Eli Fishbein (9.5 out of 10)
This is the latest solo offering from Mr. Marcus E. Norman (writer, arranger, performer, producer, engineer and mixer) and it easily tops his previous opuses, _For Snow Covered the Northland_ [CoC #16] and _The Calling_ [CoC #28]. The tracks are tighter than before, the melodies catchier -- though still extremely dark -- and the vocal range much wider. I could not help noticing the soulfulness with which The Big Man delivers his Satanist messages, as opposed to the older, more mechanical approach. He sings with grandeur that approaches the sublime, in correspondence with some of the most resounding harmonized passages to come out of Sweden. A testament for this man's genius can be heard in the last track, "The Spell", a cover of Demon's 1982 heavy metal classic, that surpasses the original in every way. The cover -- which also appears on the _Tribute to Demon_ CD -- digs out caves behind that '80s antiquated style to discover a new, beautifully sinister interpretation. The only beef I can come up with is the rigidity of the piano-playing throughout the album. To establish an emotional vibe, the keys need to be gently caressed, not banged upon. This is only a minor drawback, though, and does not impede on the spellbinding ambience that this album masterfully weaves, nor on its indelible imprint.

(article published 12/8/2000)

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