Release Date: June 7, 2011
Death metal’s native sons, Morbid Angel have spent five years working on their eighth studio album, Illud Divinum Insanus, their first since 2003’s Heretic, and the first with vocalist David Vincent since 1995’s Domination. The Floridian extreme metallists laid out the blueprint for death metal, and the words “iconic” and “legendary” are usually found close to their names when fans and journalists talk about them. David and guitarist/founder Trey Azagthoth recording together again after 16 years? One can imagine the anticipation and grand expectations. In a sense perhaps the expectation bar was set too high, and anything the band released was set up to fall short in some regard. However, no one could have forecast such a mind numbing clusterfuck collapse as fans will get when the record drops on June 7th. In pop culture terminology Illud Divinum Insanus is an epic fail and I threw up a little in my ears just listening to this record.
It should be noted that drummer Pete Sandoval did not participate in the recording of this album. He was out recovering from back surgery. Hate Eternal skin-meister Tim Yeung got the nod behind the kit. This is also the first Morbid Angel appearance for second guitarist Destructhor.
There’s an old joke that married men die earlier than single men, because they want to. And while it’s not exactly the same, I can’t help but think as I listen to Illud Divinum Insanus, that Sandoval’s excuse for not performing on this record had less to do with his back than it did his desire not to commit musical genocide, as his band mates surely did. Sandoval chose life. On the flipside, new guitarist Destructhor chose death. Ironically, the only standout track on the record was penned by him.
Morbid Angel is a fucking death metal band, so many fans will likely be disappointed with the introduction of the industrial elements found on Illud Divinum Insanus. Still, even Morbid Angel has the right to grow and experiment, even if all fans want is another crushing beast like Covenant or Domination. The problem with the experimentation on Illud Divinum Insanus is that’s terrible. Worse than Metallica’s St. Anger terrible. That’s not to say the record is without some redeeming qualities. They are simply too few to salvage the album, or the expectations that Morbid Angel’s legacy evokes.
The record kicks off with an industrial/symphonic intro which goes by the grin worthy name of “Omni Potens”. A decent if otherwise quirky start to the record. My good humor quickly evaporates however, as this segues into, “Too Extreme!” Their exclamation point, not mine. The title alone should have set off alarm bells, but my allegiance to the masters overcame my better judgment. Note to self; rename this song “What The Fuck?”, then clean out my ears with a power drill. This song is that bad. And I don’t mean bad in that pop culture “bad is the bomb” sort of way. I mean it in the classic, “I wouldn’t piss on your face if your teeth were on fire” kind of bad.
The lyrical content alone is enough to sink this techno/industrial/death pop bullshit, but the abomination of the music is unfathomable. Imagine Rammstein eating Marilyn Manson and Ministry whole then regurgitating them, and you’d still have something easier to swallow than this bile.
While the listener is still in a state of shock and aural revulsion, the band jumps into their classic death metal groove for the tracks “Existo Vulgoré” and “Blades of Baal”. First off, it boggles the mind that Morbid Angel didn’t simply start off with these two tracks. It certainly would have lessened the shock of the atrocity to come. But, if nothing else “Too Extreme!” makes “Existo Vulgoré” seem more potent than it truly is.
I won’t drag you track by track through this sonic debacle, but I will say that the album’s four most apalling songs, (the aforementioned “Too Extreme!”, the hip-hopping embarrassment of “I Am Morbid”, the Slipknot wannabe, “Radikult”, and insipid Zombie inspired banality of “Destructos vs. The Earth/Attack” ) are also the longest four on the record.
Blended in between the tracks above are two more death metal hopefuls, “Beauty Meets Beast,” and a track we’ve been listening to for a while, “Nevermore”. It is the latter track that the band baited us with, leading us to believe a pulverizing new album was on the way. Instead we got one true fist-to-the-face Morbid Angel track, three we’ll-take-what-we-can-get death romps, and 30+ minutes of nausea inducing aural detritus. Even the final song, “Profundis-Mea Culpa,” seems like an acknowledgement from the band that they know this record is a joke.
Unfortunately the joke’s on their fans.
Even the production is poorly done. Vincent’s vocals are too high, and the vocal effects too overdone. Trey’s trademark guitar shredding is all but invisible here, and even the lethal foot and stick work of Yeung is reigned in. This is a tale of two albums. Half being the more traditional, albeit less-than-stellar, Morbid Angel style songs, and the other half is poorly conceived, derivitive pandering, and self-gratutitous musical flagelation. Or perhaps masterbation, dependent on your point of view.
Illud Divinum Insanus would not be considered worthy listening even under another name, but it is blasphemous sacrilege to put the Morbid Angel name on it. Perhaps it’s not coincidental that the album title ends in ANUS because this record sucks ass! My exclamation point, not theirs.
Guys, what the hell were you thinking?
Standout track: “Blades of Baal”