8 years. 8 fucking years. Imagine if a loved one had been gone for nearly eight whole years then you had received word that they were due to make a return, so you looked anxiously at the days rolling by as the date approached. Each one seemed to grow longer as the big day drew closer. Finally, the day arrives and your dear, dear friend rings the doorbell. Excitedly you run to the door and open it, only to see that in the intervening years they’ve had a swastika and matching Hitler ‘tache tattooed on their face. You only have a fleeting moment to take this in, however, as 2 seconds later they’ve clubbed you over the head with a claw hammer and are now frantically arse-raping both your body and your cherished shared childhood memories on your own fucking doorstep. Imagine this. Keep the imagery in your mind and then – and only then – listen to Illud Divinum Insanus, the new and long awaited album from Morbid Angel.
Following your bog standard metal intro track, opener Too Extreme! blurbs out at you and your first reaction, I GUARANTEE, will be “what the fuck?”, maybe accompanied by an actual cartoon double-take and full-on eye-rubbing. Imagine the intensity, power and speed of early Berzerker, then entirely remove all intensity, power and speed so you’re left only with their flabby, artificial bass drum sound. Now loop it slowly and repetitively over and over and over and over and over and you’re halfway to the sound that this musical prolapse is achieving. Add in David Vincent shouting “Extreme!!!” and “We are your new religion!” over it like he’s trying to forcefully influence your opinion – which here is a lot like screaming “Fillet steak!” in someones face while force-feeding them mushed up dog turd on toast – and what may be guitars (I’m honestly not sure) that sound like merry-go-round music being played at quarter speed and there you have it. One eight year gestation aborted right onto your face.
Existo Vulgare is at least a Death Metal song, though it is underwhelming when compared to any of the greats or indeed fillers from the bands past. Blades For Baal is a significant step up and is finally something that Morbid Angel fans can get their teeth into, despite sounding like a fairly faithful rehash of the fast parts of Nothing But Fear from Domination. Funnily enough, in the sea of forced dance beats, rapping and industrial that comprise the majority of Illud… in an attempt to be ‘cutting-edge’ and ‘relevant’, this blast from the past is the freshest sounding track on the album.
I Am Morbid shows that not everything from 1995 stands the test of time quite as well, as the sub-Far Beyond Driven groove riff which ushers in this jaw-droppingly spineless attempt at commercialism is so incredibly poor that the fully fledged Disturbed song that follows it isn’t even a surprise. Honestly, this is Rob Zombie levels of shit. As a shitmus test, try going Uh-wah-ah-ah-ah over it in David Draiman style and you will see that not only does it work, it actually sounds better than David Vincent’s vocals. Remember when you thought that Morbid Angel’s slower songs were like God Of Emptiness or Where The Slime Live? Forget it.
10 More Dead features a riff at least reminiscent of the aforementioned slow classics and despite some really bad lyrics and ill-concieved gang vocals is boosted by a strong second half, but it’s hard to know whether the sorrow caused by the previous track is just making it seem better as it goes on. This theory is proved correct as Destructos Vs. The Earth/Attack begins and goes from sounding like the thankfully long forgotten Powerman 5000 to Marilyn Manson, a big mish-mash of industrial sounding nonsense that will have you desperately scratching at your face to try and get it off. But you just can’t, it’s already on there. Fuck! As the minutes – 7 of them – ticked by with the repetitive, monotonous droning of Destructos… I prayed that the Attack part was going to come in and, you know, attack things a bit. Sadly it’s merely a 20 second long piece that again sounds like The Berzerker. At least Tim Yeung actually gets to play the drums fast. Yay.
Nevermore, being the first song that surfaced from the album, has a familiarity to it that is so, so welcome after the harrowing experiences that have passed. It’s not a great track on its own merits, but yet again is elevated high above itself by virtue of its standing on a ladder in a field of manure. Beauty Meets Beast, while suffering from the bad title, bad lyrics affliction that is also troubling the album, at least continues the musical momentum, being another solid track with a rather awesome solo section that, with its slightly more melodic tendencies, would be right at home on Domination.
After those two tracks you could almost think you were listening to a Morbid Angel album. Sadly the next song, Radikult, is the worst
song thing ever. EVER. Radikult? Oh yeah, cos da kidz is all saying radical, yeah? Cos it’s 1991 yeah? And cult means kind of evil, yeah? And the K means it’s more evil? Yeah. They are repping themselves about their longevity and popularity, which brings to mind the most vomit-inducing trappings of hip-hop, describing themselves as ‘Hardcore Radicals’ which, as well as being bite-your-fist cringeworthy and making them sound like a bad WWE tag team, is patently untrue. This song has to be heard to be believed. It’s like one of the most base level Nu-Metal tracks from The Burning Red being covered by Hatebreed with extra riffs borrowed from The Beautiful People. And it’s over 7 minutes long. And that’s David Vincent bro-rapping over it. Wait… is that David Vincent saying “Cop-killa”?
Stop… Stop… He’s already dead.
Profundis – Mea Culpa, as well as aptly being Latin for I’m really, really sorry, presumably an admission of guilt for the preceding cluster wank, is just a load of hardcore dance music fucking bollocks. The carnival guitars are back from Too Extreme! and by now I just want them to make it stop. Thankfully it eventually does and I will never, ever have to listen to it again… Now for the gruelling years of therapy it will take to make me forget the whole nightmare happened.
While I am a musical grump at the best of times, I honestly have nothing against bands trying to broaden their sound and add in some different twists – providing it’s done well and has artistic merit. This, however, is like Iron Maiden releasing a Reggae album, Nile dabbling in R&B or Chuck Schuldiner returning from the grave and faithfully covering Chico Time. Yes, musicians can do what they wish, but releasing an album with less than 5 tracks that are recognisable as Morbid Angel after an 8 year gap is just spitting in the face of the very fans who allow them to do this for a living. If Trey Azagthoth and David Vincent had written 3 more shit songs and released them all as a side project called Treyvid Vincenthoth it would just have been very funny, but to put this half-baked turd out under the Morbid Angel name is a tragic and potentially irretrievable folly. It’s incredible and worrying to think that during the writing, recording, mixing and promotion process no-one had the balls to speak out and say “Hang on a minute here lads, this is actually an ass load of shit”. Shame on you.
Come back St. Anger, all is forgiven.