Once upon a time, former Morbid Angel frontman David Vincent was a death-metal rock star.
On subgenre-defining albums like 1993’s Covenant, his bestial roar — “Was that a bear?” Butt-Head quipped upon viewing the video for that LP’s closing track “God of Emptiness” — and sinister charisma made an unforgettable impression.
But ever since his initial exit from that group in 1996, Vincent die-hards have anxiously awaited a worthy follow-up. His work in S&M-themed industrial-metal outfit the Genitorturers flew mostly under the radar; Morbid Angel’s techno-infused 2011 LP Illud Divinum Insanus, issued after Vincent’s return to the band seven years prior, landed with a resounding thud; and a surprisingly legit 2017 country single (yes, you read that right) put his formidable pipes to very different use.
So for fans, there’s a lot riding on Something Wicked Marches In, the upcoming debut from new Vincent-fronted supergroup Vltimas. The band’s two other members also bring serious underground cred to the table. Guitarist Rune Eriksen formerly played in Mayhem, during a phase when the Norwegian black-metal heavyweights made some of their most bizarre and challenging LPs, and now works with fellow veterans Aura Noir, among others. Drummer Flo Mounier co-founded Cryptopsy, a Montreal death-metal institution known for outrageous speed and technicality.
If the Vltimas tracks revealed so far aren’t necessarily surprising, they’re pretty damn satisfying, likely Vincent’s strongest material in more than 20 years. New single “Total Destroy!” kicks off with a rampaging, blast-beat-driven riff reminiscent of early-2000s Mayhem, before segueing into a thrashy verse that harks back to Morbid Angel’s streamlined 1995 classic Domination. Returning to his trademark lyrical fixations of chaos and armageddon, Vincent growls out what sound like lines from a diabolical sermon: “The dark days on horizon/The monsters pull my strings/And I in turn spew madness/Until the hell choir sings.”
Vincent’s vintage delivery was all about raw aggression; here, he almost sounds like he’s having fun with his words, throwing in a hint of dramatic relish and even hints of a stagy Eastern European accent. It’s a strange tactic, but it suits the music’s unapologetically over-the-top might. Eriksen and Mounier match him with intensity and imagination throughout the excellently produced track (listen for the guitarist’s outlandish, ear-catching solo around the halfway mark), the three musicians from different wings of the metal underground aligning with impressive focus.
Morbid Angel themselves made an impressive, Vincent-less comeback in 2017; the singer countered by forming I Am Morbid, a self-tribute band of sorts that performs the band’s early material on the road. (Former Morbid drummer Pete Sandoval is back in action too, having resurrected his old grindcore band Terrorizer.) But from what we’re hearing, Something Wicked Marches In, out March 29th, could come even closer to recapturing the spirit that made that band’s early material so compelling. We can’t wait to hear more.