MARDUK hit pay dirt with 2007's "Rom: 512", thanks to the deft balancing of songwriting dynamics and feral black metal intensity. It was a game changer for the legendary band and although fans will always have their favorites (it seems "Panzer Division Marduk" gets mentioned in every single review, so I might as well mention it here too), there is no question that "Rom: 5:12" was an achievement of monumental proportions, one that proved maturation can occur without an offsetting sacrifice in pure evil and unmitigated ferocity. With "Wormwood" MARDUK has accomplished something that evades so many metal bands; they've followed up a superb effort with an equally superb effort.Much like its predecessor, "Wormwood" works so well as a complete listening experience in part because of the seamless way fast blasters are fitted amongst death marches, creating a synergistic effect in the process. The blast-beaten "Nowhere No-One Nothing" (with its wicked riff cascade) and "This Fleshly Void" (featuring a chorus defined by uniquely twisted vocal patterns) would not seem quite as devastating without the misery crawl of "Funeral Dawn" sandwiched in between. The down tempo bass rumble paired with the demonic acidity of Mortuus' vocals — together mildly reminiscent of the experimental work heard on DANZIG "4" — is nothing short of spine-chilling. Following with funeral dirge "Unclosing the Curse" and exploding into "Phosphorus Redeemer", resuming the bottom crawling on "To Redirect Perdition" and plunging head first into the eye of the hurricane on "Whorecrown" (perhaps the album's best speedster) collectively result in a similar effect. The album closes with the alternating tempos of "Chorus of Cracking Necks" (nice, eh?) and an exercise in creeping everyone right the fuck out one final time on a song called "As a Garment". In other words, it is all about the complete package on "Wormwood". Just as important though is an atmosphere that continues to be cold and uncomfortably morose, made even more sinister by a bass tone that is not only thick and audible, but also value-additive (take the ending of "Into Utter Madness", for example). The man most responsible for the album's tortured soul is Mortuus who outdoes himself once again; he creaks, croaks, moans, howls, and strains his way through these songs in a most inhuman fashion. Yes indeed, MARDUK kills it with conviction again. Or if you prefer a more technical assessment — Christ on a stick, "Wormwood" is sick!
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