"Epic lives up to its title, treading the line between imperious grandeur and ridiculous pomposity": new VLTIMAS album lives up to its member's legendary death metal pedigree

David Vincent, Rune ‘Blasphemer’ Eriksen and Flo Mounier live up to their reputation as extreme metal's leading lights

Vltimas 2024
(Image: © Jolanda Siemonsa)

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Such is the proclivity for extreme metal musicians to embark on multiple projects that death, doom and black metal supergroups aren’t as rare as found in more commercial echelons. But even by these metrics, the résumés of its members ensured Vltimas’s arrival came with more expectations. However, it was that very gravitas of frontman David Vincent that became the hitch with 2019’s Something Wicked Marches In

With his position as death metal’s most recognisable voice, his trademark roars and decipherable diction meant even the most well-executed proposition couldn’t help but sound like, and thus be compared to, Morbid Angel’s unattainable heights.

Where this follow-up thrives is Rune ‘Blasphemer’ Eriksen’s riffs bringing more of an icy, grandiose feel than the more intricate, warped labyrinth of its predecessor. The chemistry of the band is instantly more organic and results in Epic living up to its title, treading the line between imperious grandeur and ridiculous pomposity. 

Never is this more apparent than on the title track’s subversive crawl, with David revelling in a full baritone bellow, and Mephisto Manifesto’s histrionic march, like 1349 covering Judas Priest. After quenching his thirst for violent blasting on Cryptopsy’s recent triumphant return, Flo Mounier uses his powder sparingly, indulging in speed on the aptly titled Scorcher, while elsewhere laying a sturdier foundation for the likes of Miserere and Invictus’s stately ceremony. 

Exercitus Irae’s nefarious atmosphere spits fiendish venom and ostentatious clout, while Spoils Of War, with its grim riffs that suddenly summon a glorious trad metal lead, is another leftfield bolt. While Epic is still undoubtedly dense and masterfully crafted, three luminaries of metal’s underbelly having such an enjoyable time creating an unashamedly bombastic affair is reason enough to applaud its triumph.

Epic is out March 15 via Season Of Mist. 

Adam Brennan

Rugby, Sean Bean and power ballad superfan Adam has been writing for Hammer since 2007, and has a bad habit of constructing sentences longer than most Dream Theater songs. Can usually be found cowering at the back of gigs in Bristol and Cardiff. Bruce Dickinson once called him a 'sad bastard'.