2019 is slowly unveiling some fine releases. With Altarage, Overkill and Candlemass all making me grin thus far in the past three months, despite a slow start and some disappointments (Venom, Queensryche and Legion of the Damned). Naturally, your ears prick up when you hear Flo Mounier, Rune Eriksen and David Vincent have decided to get together and make some unholy communion. Straight away I thought we had potential AOTY material right here given the obvious talent and experience present on this record. I wasn't disappointed. Whilst not flawless, 'Something Wicked Marches In' is a glorious display of DM, performed by intelligent and capable artists who manage to individually stamp their authority on the record yet at the same time are mature enough to work as a complete and cohesive unit.
Let's start with David Vincent. He's by no means at an 'Altars...' or 'Blessed...' level of stature here yet his performance grabs the attention, not in the least due to the vocals being so forward in the mix. His grim and menacing style compliments the music perfectly, adding atmosphere and clearly enunciated declarations of wicked intent alongside his familiar growls. The painful memory of 'Illud...' is put to bed firmly here, much more effectively than Morbid Angel's mediocre follow up offering of 2017, it has to be said.
The dissonant , gnawing and at times melancholic guitar of Eriksen builds Mayhem-esque structures within solid chugging death metal riffs, offering variety and diverse pace throughout. Again, whilst sounding like Eriksen throughout the record it never feels at any point like his guitar work is dominating proceedings. His work moulds well around the percussion and vocal performances, crafting a real sense of balance and true artistic unison.
Then of course we have the machine that is Mounier. The famed Cryptopsy skin-basher is as you would expect on good form here, the varied pace of the album lending well to showcase the many sides to the repertoire of the Frenchman. Whether it is the faster pace that dominates much of the album or the more mid-paced tracks or passages that populate the album in abundance, Flo is there blasting and pounding as required with all the surety and aptitude you would expect from a man of his experience and ability.
Standout tracks include the title and opening track that sets the tone so well for the rest of the album with its multifarious pace. Straight away the performance feels tight and professional and as the blasting opening to 'Praevalidus' smashes into the listener like some DM freight train the quality level is immediately maintained. The ritualistic feel of 'Monolilith' with its chanted admiration of the demon of the night is superb and as enticing as the subject matter herself.
As I say, it is not a flawless record. For a start the bass is virtually lost in the mix (not 'And Justice For All...' lost but, nonetheless, undervalued somewhat in the mix. There are also times when you forget you are listening to an album as such since some of the tracks merge together a little and sound the same, almost like you are listening to established group jamming in their studio instead of recording a full-length. These are only minor quibbles since when 'Something Wicked Marches In' is on point it is fucking amazing.