Something Wicked Marches In
Devised as a synergy of three strong, well established musical personalities bringing out the best out of each other for the sake of something new and uncertain coming to life, that would hopefully transcend each of them individually, Vltimas unfortunately turned out to be merely a depthless meeting of those personalities, in which everything they brought to the table got glued together in a way that doesn’t suggest any real spiritual connection between the band members, making them look like three hired guns who got together to take care of the business and go their separate ways once that business is taken care of.
Blasphemer contributed his signature riffing, that’s customary subtle, nuanced and relentlessly aggressive, all at the same time, and as such somewhat reminiscent of his remarkable work on Mayhem’s Chimera. After the first couple of listens, together with Flo Mounier’s clinical performance, those riffs prove to be this album’s most valuable asset, and after a couple more, probably the only thing worth revisiting on it. On the other hand, when it comes to Vincent, there is something about the lyrics on this record, and his overall performance, that has rather repulsive mass appeal to it, as if everything he does is designed merely to entertain rather than to communicate something important. Not taking anything away from his legacy and his status of a seasoned veteran who has been there and done it, something about the urgency with which he performs here feels dishonest. In the current climate of underground metal, with so many gifted young bands making music with genuine artistic intentions, Vincent regrettably comes across as a poor man’s version of his former self, a musician that has long since lost his drive, but still has a few tricks up on his sleeve to kind of pull it off and impress some of the slower audience. In hindsight, Illud Divinum Insanus was probably the last time he showcased complete honesty as an artist, by making the record he truly wanted and needed to make, which explains why this one feels like an insincere attempt at redemption and just another avenue of revenue, merely a means of keeping career rolling.
Still, it’s impossible to deny the effort that had been put into this record, both by the label and the band, and those who value form over substance, a sterile professionalism in extreme metal that demands impeccable execution, production, visuals etc. will hardly find any reason to complain. A sour taste in mouth is perhaps reserved only for more contemplative audience who, after scratching the shiny, polished surface of this record, might find that there is something slightly rotten about it after all.
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