Marduk | ‘Rom 5:12’
Amazing. Fully ten albums into a career that on numerous occasions over the past decade appeared to have hit a brick wall Marduk come out with what is unquestionably their most daring and experimental album to date.
And this just a few short years after many declared that the death knell for the band had been sounded with the departure of Legion.
Although ‘Plague Angel’ proved to some that there could be a life after Legion, it would be untrue to say that replacement Mortuus (aka Arioch) has enjoyed widespread support amongst Marduk’s fans so far.
‘Rom 5:12’ should finally be more than enough to put the doubters in their place, though. Indeed, it’s impossible to imagine this album without Mortuus at the helm.
Certainly it would never have been thinkable while Legion was still in place.
Unquestionably a charismatic frontman with a formidable snarl, truth be told, Legion’s vocals were brutally monotonous and one dimensional, and as early as ‘Nightwing’ he’d already just about used up his full repertoire of vocal lines.
No, this is Mortuus’ album, and the one that will ultimately put the ghosts of the last singer to rest.
It’s not just the incredible, ungodly vocals that set ‘Rom 5:12’ apart from much of Marduk’s previous work, though.
Album number ten is a mix of the razor fast Black Metal bile that is Marduk’s stock in trade (‘Through The Belly Of Damnation’; ‘Limbs Of Worship’), but this is also contrasted heavily by brutally slow tracks, a weapon all too rarely drawn from the Marduk arsenal.
One such track is the nine minute long ‘Imago Mortis’, which washes over the listener slowly, inexorably, like an unstoppable, all-consuming tide of lava.
A highlight of ‘Rom 5:12’, and indeed Marduk’s career to date. The ominous, martial ‘1651’ is another departure for Marduk, with menacing keys and percussion overlain by Mortuus’ ghastly voice.
But the track that most epitomises the Swedes newfound willingness to experiment is the fantastic ‘Accuser/Opposer’, a Black Metal duet between Mortuus and Primordial’s Nemtheanga.
Again clocking in at almost nine minutes, the Latin mass samples (ala Void Of Silence), the trade off between the diabolical and the dramatic vocals and the Gregorian chant at the end show Marduk in a completely different, unexpected light.
Another highlight in the band’s career, in what might arguably by the best album they’ve recorded.
The only negative is the horribly clangy bass sound, but in spite of this one drawback it’s fair to say that there won’t be many Black Metal albums that come close to ‘Rom 5:12’ this year.
A huge amount of credit has to go to Morgan for having the courage to record ‘Rom 5:12’.
In doing so, he’s torn asunder many of the stereotypes associated with the band at the risk of alienating the hardcore still hoping for another ‘Panzer Division Marduk’.
4.4 / 5 – DBM ::: 11/05/07