International supergroup Vltimas released a killer debut in 2019,  Something Wicked Marches In, which I reviewed and gave high praises of their stamp on blackened death metal.  One of the many things going for that debut was how damn catchy it was – I still listen to that sucker!  The same members return with Flo Mounier (Cryptopsy) on drums, David Vincent ( ex- Morbid Angel) on vox and Rune Eriksen (Aura Noir)on guitars.

Epic is 9 songs in 37 minutes.  “Volens Discordant” opens and is a forgettable 1 minute interlude/intro, with the meat and potatoes erupting with the title track, next.  The song begins with a terrific slow burn opening with a terrific rhythm section with Vincent doing some crooning.  This vocal style might be a deal-breaker for some, I’m not sure.  He enunciates perfectly, very clear.  His vocals are deep and it’s Vincent, but a departure from the debut, because as I stated, he does actually do some “singing” on this song.  Honestly, I was not expecting to like the crooning, which I knew beforehand was going to be on this, but for these ears, it works.  I actually am a fan of Vincent’s country outlaw singles from years ago, yes, shame, right?? Whatever.  Again this song is a different type of opening tune, especially after the interlude, but it’s a good, slow-paced rumbling number.  Personally, after that interlude, they should have gone into a vicious blasting number.

“Miserere” is up next and is faster.  A galloping number with a multitude of blasts and Vincent getting back to more of his gruff delivery that was on the debut album, but the extra enunciation and clearer style could be off-putting to some.  The chorus has even clearer vocals, but they are very catchy.  The double bass is pummeling on this song and the black metal riffing and melodies is excellent and fits perfectly with the dearth of metal leanings.

“Exercitus Irae” is a quick number with the monster blast beats and the guitar riffing is out-fucking-standing.  The song settles into a slower rumbling heaviness with more catchy vocal arrangements – these moments, throughout the album, will go over quite well in a live setting, with the fans singing along to these moments.  More crooning from Vincent, as he holds the croons out, as opposed to them being longer growls, they’re longer croons…interesting.

“Scorcher” is the shortest song on the album.  It starts with isolated atmospheric guitar feedback then builds up and right into a monstrous blast.  Vincent sounds disgustingly evil on this track, going a bit deeper before he settles into his mid-range style, which he is quite comfortable with.  The tremendous blasts and vicious velocity of this song should have been the song to open the album, in my opinion.  But I was not consulted about the song arrangements, so I’ll shut up.  And any time you have the chorus with Die, Die, Die – come on – that is classic.  Again these moments will go over excellent, in a live setting and Flo really is blasting the unholy hell out of his drum kit – poor snare drum, RIP!

“Nature’s Fangs” has a lot of melodic moments and with the atmosphere and Vincent crooning OOOOHHHHH, OHHH, a few times, I tell you, maybe you kind reader, will find these new vocal styles cringy, but for me, I am loving it.  Maybe as a death metal vocalist, I appreciate vocalists expanding their sound over the years and developing, and I see Vincent doing that, and I appreciate it a lot.  It adds an extra layer and makes Vltimas stand out among so many other bands, playing this style.  This the catchiest tune on the album.  “Spoils of War” ends the album, is the longest at close to six minutes.  It’s a slower, moodier number with a lot of atmosphere.  Good song.  The album ends with how the album began, meaning slow and brooding, with the musical arrangements.

I really like Epic a lot!!  It’s different than their debut.  The varying vocal changes courtesy of David Vincent, well, I have mentioned them many times throughout the review, but I feel they are well done.  The music is a bit more atmospheric and moodier, but there are plenty of lethal and brutal moments.  The production on this sucker is lights out.  This album is meant to be played loud and proud!  Vltimas have returned folks!!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
March 11th, 2024


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