Twice As heavy: Vltimas – Epic

Twice as brutal, twice as deadly, twice as fun. That’s our segment Twice As Heavy. A new, heavily anticipated and crushing record that simply demands to be looked at from more than one angle. Additionally, the editors would fight tooth and nail to determine who ultimately gets their hands on the golden ticket. This time around, we’re tackling Epic by Vltimas. Marleen (favourite genre: black metal) and MaartenO (favourite genre: metalcore/deathcore) are taking charge of this segment.

We undoubtedly recognise Portugal-based Rune ‘Blasphemer’ Eriksen as the guitarist of Aura Noir, Mayhem, and Ava Inferi. When the latter two bands became a thing of the past for the musician, the Norwegian decided to form a new band in 2015 and reached out to Canadian drummer Flo Mounier (among others Cryptopsy) and American vocalist David Vincent (ex-Morbid Angel) to gauge their interest. The deal was quickly sealed, leading to the release of the mighty Something Wicked Marches In in 2019. The metal world universally acclaimed the debut of the supergroup.

Five years later, the highly anticipated follow-up comes in the form of the album Epic. Live forces have been recruited for this: Dutchman Ype Terwisscha van Scheltinga (ex-Dodecahedron) joins on bass, and João Duarte (Corpus Christii) from Portugal on guitar. While last time the artwork was sourced from Poland (courtesy of the esteemed Zbigniew M. Bielak), Italy was chosen for the visual framing of Epic. Artist Daniele Valeriani seems to have been inspired by the Cerberus (a three-headed beast) for this occasion.

How does Epic differ from Something Wicked Marches In?

MaartenO: The debut was generally harder, faster, and more relentless. This Epic still contains some songs that maintain that approach, including Scorcher and, to a lesser extent, Exercitus Irae and Invictus. Additionally, in many more tracks, there’s a slight decrease in tempo, allowing for memorable moments, complemented by some nice traditional solo work here and there (Epic, Miserere, or Spoils Of War). The powerful riffs and driving drums shine much better this way, although the key to success is variety. In that regard, Epic is more balanced than its predecessor without losing its bite. The versatile closer Spoils Of War is a perfect example of this.

Marleen: Something Wicked Marches In hit me like a bomb. I immediately jumped on my bike to grab the record at the store. It was so fresh, so cool. The surprising combination of musicians and styles made a deep impression. The LP has been played to death, but Total Destroy and Praevalidus still regularly make an appearance here. Compared to that, Epic sounds more theatrical, and bolder. Thanks to the strong chemistry, Vltimas has become even more original. Take, for example, the titular track Epic. David’s death metal vocals are incredibly dramatic and extravagant. Getting crazier with his 58 years? But Blasphemer’s tasty guitar work more than compensates for it. However, it’s noticeable that the vocals are much ‘cleaner’ than on the predecessor. The variation is also greater. Invictus (nomen est omen?) is a good example of that. A truly epic melody navigates through drums with unprecedented precision to an almost post-rock guitar play. A feat we haven’t heard from this gentleman before!

Furthermore, Vltimas has used more Latin titles, such as Volens Discordant (wishing for chaos), Miserere (have mercy), Exercitus Irae (army of anger), and Invictus (unconquered). In that respect, they could have easily named the album Epicus. Finally, Epic has Volens Discordant as an instrumental intro to set the mood right. A fine choice.

It takes a lot of confidence to name your album Epic. Do you think it’s a fitting title?

MaartenO: Well, it’s just an album title, of course. However, once you’ve listened to the record a few times, you’ll notice that the title fits the music and its character. The musicianship is even nonchalant at times, but oh so convincing. Add to that the fact that the musicians have earned their stripes, and you’ll conclude the same as I: why not!

Marleen: It’s certainly bold, but with their track record, I think it’s appropriate. It also exudes strength, which fits well with the music. Blasphemer once again proves himself as a riffmeister; it’s incredible what that man can do with his guitar! Take the melodies in Miserere, with almost mischievous riffs. This song has everything to become a hit: sharp drums, deep vocals, a delightful chorus, tasty guitar solo…

Did it really have to take five years?

MaartenO: Good work takes time, and Rome wasn’t built in a day. Perhaps we’re spoiled by most bands releasing a new album every two years, but I’m okay with a longer wait. It builds momentum, gives something to look forward to, and if records like Epic are the result, then I’m a patient man.

Marleen: Completely agree with MaartenO. Let’s also not forget that a pandemic hasn’t made it easier for this international group to write and record music together…

Are David Vincent’s vocals like a fine wine?

MaartenO: Firstly, I don’t drink wine, so I don’t recognize the difference between good or bad types. The man certainly has a unique and recognizable voice, and he maintains that balance and assertiveness even more on this Epic compared to the debut. The music on this album also lends itself perfectly to that. The grunts are raw and dark, while his clean singing sounds heavy and epic.

Marleen: He certainly increasingly showcases his vocal variation neatly. In Exercitus Irae, I can really enjoy his biting “Marching, Marching!”. What a delightful riff this song has again, bravo! His voice also sounds very good at a slower pace, like in Mephisto Manifesto. This comes close to Monolilith from the debut album. The contrast between his clean vocals and the fury of Scorcher is also very memorable.

What is the best song on Epic?

MaartenO: Mephisto Manifesto! The simplistic yet very effective guitar riff(s) groove like crazy, the choruses serve as delightful work vitamins (“I’m working… I’m working…”) and inspire action, while Vincent’s old school ‘heavy metal’ vocals complete the song entirely. And if that singing doesn’t provide the icing on the cake, then it’s the heavy, choir-like additions in the background that create a dark framing. Party time!

Marleen: As a black metal fan, I choose Scorcher. Thanks to the blastbeat fest, this is by far the most charred track. Blissfully aggressive tempo, that’s how I like my metal!

Finally, the crucial question: is this album material for the year-end lists?

MaartenO: Epic is an eccentric album, crafted by a group of eccentric musicians. The record is thoughtfully put together and listens very smoothly, flowing as a cohesive whole. The level of accessibility ensures that you’ll easily listen to it several times in a row, and the variety prevents you from getting bored quickly. All in all, these are the ingredients for a top album, and indeed: it’s material for the year-end lists! Now, if only we could see them live.

Marleen: Just like in 2019, Vltimas will also end up (high?) on my year-end list this year. Once again, it’s a solid album where traditional (death) metal sound is dressed in a contemporary style. The album is mixed in such a way that the instruments come forward balanced. I’m very fond of the original and unique sound thanks to David Vincent’s unmistakable vocals and Blasphemer’s roaring riffs. The rich experience of these gentlemen is evident. If you have the chance, I would definitely go to the shows. You can catch them on March 23 in Enschede, March 24 in Drachten, June 20 in Utrecht, and June 21 during Graspop Metal Meeting.

Score Maarten: 88/100

Score Marleen: 90/100




Season of Mist, 2024


  1. Volens Discordant
  2. EPIC
  3. Miserere
  4. Exercitus Irae
  5. Mephisto Manifesto
  6. Scorcher
  7. Invictus
  8. Nature’s Fangs
  9. Spoils Of War


  • David Vincent – Vocals
  • Rune ‘Blasphemer’ Eriksen – Guitar
  • Flo Mounier – Drums
  • Ype TVS – Bass guitar